Film Study: Notre Dame S commit Nicco Fertitta
S commit Nicco Fertitta, 5-10, 170, Las Vegas Bishop Gorman
The numbers: Fertitta tallied 47 tackles, four interceptions, 3.5 tackles for a loss, two fumble recoveries, one sack, one fumble recovery and one touchdown in an undefeated season. Bishop Gorman (15-0) won the NIAA Division I state title.
The rankings: Rivals — Three stars, No. 51 S. 247Sports — Three stars, No. 75 S.
First impression: Fertitta is a hard-hitting safety who flies all over the field. Despite his smaller stature, offenses are likely to remember where he’s at on the field. His big hits bring a soundtrack of “oohs” to his highlight film.
Strengths: Fertitta might not impress you standing on a sideline, but he plays possessed between the stripes. His attitude and toughness make up for his physical limitations. His closing speed allows him to arrive at the ball quicker than opposing players may expect. When he gets there, he’s going to give the ball carrier his best shot. Fertitta will go for the big hit if he gets a chance. He seems to have a knack for making plays to get his fellow defenders fired up. His football instincts allow him to anticipate what the offense is throwing at him. Fertitta should be able to compete for time on special teams early in his Irish career.
He did what? (:10) Fertitta’s film opens with two big hits, but the second one is more impressive. Lined up in man coverage on a slot receiver, Fertitta recognizes the bubble route quickly. He closes in on the receiver and wallops him immediately after catching the pass … (:16) Fertitta drops back in man coverage before seeing Oregon quarterback commit Travis Waller scrambling his way. He zooms past the receiver who has slowed down to try to block him and trips up Waller for a short gain before he can turn the corner … (1:51) Fertitta blitzes off the edge and forces a sack fumble to secure a Bishop Gorman victory in overtime.
Competition level: Bishop Gorman cruised through the highest classification in Nevada and survived an early gauntlet against out-of-state competition. The Gaels defeated the likes of Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco, quarterbacked by UCLA commit Josh Rosen, Anaheim (Calif.) Servite, featuring Oregon QB commit Travis Walller and Irish wide receiver target Equanimeous St. Brown, Phoenix Brophy Prep, South Jordan (Utah) Bingham and Corona (Calif.) Centennial. USA Today named Bishop Gorman the 2014 high school national champion.
Left to prove: Fertitta will have to find a way to take advantage of his best attributes in college. His highlights don’t show many plays of him going up in coverage against bigger wide receivers, which will likely be an issue moving forward. Fertitta might not be best-suited to be the last man to beat on a defense. His skills are better served making plays on the ball closer to the line of scrimmage. Fertitta will need to get stronger and faster to allow his hard-hitting style to transition to Notre Dame. Defenses will try to exploit his aggressiveness. Fertitta could risk future injuries if he doesn’t control his body better when flying in for tackles.
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