Notre Dame DE target Gustin known as hitman

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

Porter Gustin knows plenty about hitting quarterbacks.

That’s why when he’s standing in the pocket as a quarterback himself, a bit of his defensive mentality comes back.

A broken left hand and a broken left thumb ended his quarterback stint early as a junior, but the Notre Dame recruiting target will return under center again this fall for Salem (Utah) Hills High. If he looks like a linebacker play-ing quarterback, that’s because the 6-foot-4, 240-pounder is.

“I try to be as aggressive as possible at quarterback,” Gustin said. “So if I get a chance to run into somebody I usually take it. The defense transfers a little over to offense for me.”

Notre Dame, like many other college programs, projects Gustin as an outside linebacker or defensive end in their defensive system. After a couple stops at his high school, Notre Dame outside linebackers coach Bob Elliott extended an offer to Gustin in May.

The Irish, like USC, Ohio State, UCLA, LSU and a slew of other programs, have been captivated by the dynamic blend of size and athleticism Gustin owns. His ability to sling the ball as a quarterback has little to do with it.

“A lot of those schools like that I have a lot of height, length and size,” Gustin said. “I’m also able to have some speed at that size that I’m at. They also like the ability to cover ground and be able to drop back but also to be able to rush the quarterback.”

As a junior, Gustin completed 63 of his 107 passes for 1,273 yards and 13 touchdowns. He rushed for another 260 yards and two touchdowns with only three interceptions. On defense, he tallied 78 tackles, 17 tackles for a loss and two sacks.

Gustin’s combine numbers reflect the freakish athleticism shown on his highlight reel. At Nike’s The Opening camp in early July, Gustin finished in the top 10 of some of the nation’s best prospects in SPARQ testing, which measures various athletic feats.

He was credited with a 40-yard dash time of 4.63 seconds, a 20-yard shuttle time of 4.13, and a vertical jump of 34 inches.

“It was definitely a great opportunity out there playing with the best of the best,” said Gustin, who also competed as an outside linebacker in the seven-on-seven tournament. “It was a good preview of what players I’m going to be playing with at the next level. It was good to go out there and prove that even at my size, I can do well at the combine.”

247Sports slates Gustin as a five-star prospect, the No. 4 outside linebacker and No. 23 overall in the 2015 class. Rivals rates him as a four-star prospect, the No. 7 outside linebacker and No. 113 regardless of position.

With the work of Elliott, the Irish have secured Gustin’s first official visit for the upcoming season. He’s planning to attend Notre Dame’s Sept. 6 home game against Michigan. The Irish aren’t necessarily the leaders in his recruit-ment with the rival Trojans make a strong push of their own, but they’re in a position to make a serious impact in the coming months.

“They’re definitely in my top group,” Gustin said. “I’ll be able to make a better decision about them when I go on a visit.”

Gustin’s right hand has healed, but he broke his left hand again in July. He’s hoping to be ready to go when his season starts in late August. At the same time, he’s keeping his eyes open to the recruiting process with a number of schools in mind.

“I like USC a lot,” Gustin said. “Ohio State, I really want to get up there and visit them. I talk a lot to UCLA, LSU, and I like Washington a lot. There’s a couple other schools that are up there, but not a whole lot of them.”


Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Notre Dame defensive line target Porter Gustin knows his way to the quarterback. (Photo provided)