Blue and Gold Illustrated

May 2017 Issue

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 37 of 63

38 MAY 2017 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY COREY BODDEN Notre Dame is focusing on a small number of blockers in the 2018 class, with only eight offers extended by of- fensive line coach Harry Hiestand as of late April. One of those eight came off the board in February, when Brentwood (Tenn.) High three-star tackle Cole Mabry committed to the Irish follow- ing his visit for Junior Day. A month later, Hiestand reeled in his second pledge for the class by landing Maria Stein (Ohio) Marion Local High three-star tackle John Dirksen during the junior 's trip to South Bend March 24-25. He picked the Irish over offers from Michigan State, Northwestern, Kentucky and Iowa State, among others. Dirksen — the No. 35 prospect in Ohio according to Rivals — kept a very low profile on social media and in the recruiting world by not participating in Twitter, etc., or media interviews. That is why there are little, if any, comments from Dirksen in regards to his recruit- ment or commitment to the Irish. On the field, Dirksen's play does the talking. He missed the majority of his junior year with a leg injury, but he made his mark for Marion Local early in his career. Marion Local has been nothing short of dominant since head coach Tim Goodwin arrived in 1999. The program has won nine state championships in its history with the first coming in year two of Goodwin's tenure in 2000. It is very unusual for a freshman to play at Marion Local, let alone start, but that is exactly what Dirksen did when he arrived at the school in 2014. "He was better than everyone else," Goodwin said with a laugh. "Some kids were just born to be certain things. He was born to be a college of- fensive lineman. He has what people are looking for. "He weighs 305 pounds right now, and he's got a wide frame and room to put on more. There's a lot of potential there." The 6-5 Dirksen possesses a lot of qualities top programs covet when evaluating offensive linemen. "He's a prototypical offensive line- man at the next level," Goodwin said. "He's got the package. He's got the size, strength and the agility. He's a smart and tough kid. He's grown up on a dairy farm, and he's got a work ethic like you wouldn't believe. "We're probably a 65/35 run/pass split, and he doesn't get challenged on pass protection like he would in college. … He can be a mauler. We pull him a lot, and he can move. His strength is his strength. He's a strong kid and gets off the ball, plays with an attitude and is relentless." Goodwin anticipates protecting the quarterback at the college level will be the area where Dirksen will need the most development. "I think pass protection will be the biggest thing coming from a smaller school," Goodwin said. "He's been go- ing to camps for a while, but he doesn't see it on a day-to-day basis. "It's going to be a transition for any high school kid to move on to a Notre Dame-type program." Outworking Dirksen on or off the field is not likely. "He's in the top 10 in his class right now. He's got some ability there," Goodwin said. "I think most impor- tantly dairy farming is in his family, and you're never going to outwork a dairy farmer. He's just a worker. "He's a great kid, very likeable. He's very high in the leadership area as well. I wouldn't be surprised if he goes somewhere and becomes a team captain at some point." Notre Dame will now turn its at- tention to adding to the duo of Mabry and Dirksen. The top three targets left on the board are four-star tackle Nick Petit-Frere of Tampa (Fla.) Berkeley Prep, who is ranked as the No. 168 overall player nationally; Traverse City (Mich.) West three-star tackle Ryan Hayes, who is ranked as the No. 49 tackle nationally; and Suwanee (Ga.) North Gwinnett three-star guard War- ren Ericson, who is ranked as the No. 19 guard in the class. ✦ FILM ANALYSIS Strengths John Dirksen is a physically imposing young offensive lineman … Using the term "country strong" is more fitting for him than any other recruit, considering he has grown up on a dairy farm … Is not pudgy and doesn't possess a lot of bad body weight … He's just large all around, and he showed very good strength even as a sophomore … Comes hard off the line and shows an impressive leg drive, although he must learn to use his hands instead of forearm blocking most of the time … A quality athlete that projects as a tackle or guard at the next level … Makes his living as a run blocker right now, but he shows good instincts in protec- tion, and he's athletic and instinctive enough to handle himself in space. Areas For Improvement Tends to block with his forearms and doesn't use his hands well, which needs to be corrected … Continuing to work on his footwork on the edge is something he needs to do, but overall his game is sound. — Bryan Driskell COMMITMENT PROFILE JOHN DIRKSEN The Latest Irish Pledge Is A 'Prototypical Offensive Lineman' Dirksen, Rivals' No. 35 prospect in Ohio, picked Notre Dame over offers from Michigan State, Northwestern, Kentucky and Iowa State, among others. PHOTO BY SONNY FULKS/PRESS PROS MAGAZINE

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Blue and Gold Illustrated - May 2017 Issue