Film Study: Notre Dame CB commit Julian Love

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

CB commit Julian Love, 5-11, 175; La Grange Park (Ill.) Nazareth Academy.

The numbers: Love recorded 72 tackles and five interceptions — three of which he returned for a touchdown — in his junior season at Nazareth Academy. On offense, Love rushed for 780 yards and nine touchdowns, and caught 20 passes for 547 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also returned one punt and one kickoff for a touchdownThe Roadrunners finished 14-0 with a Class 6A state championship.

The rankings: Rivals – Three stars, No. 30 cornerback. 247Sports – Three stars, No. 50 cornerback.

FILM BREAKDOWN

First impression: Love does it all on offense and defense. He shows his athleticism and ball skills on both sides of the field. He brings versatility as a defensive back and special teams player.

Strengths:  Love has a nose for the ball as a defensive back. Whether it’s playing center field at safety or in man coverage as a cornerback, Love finds a way to get between his receiver and the ball. If he gets his hands on it, he knows what to do with it. As a tackler, Love is aggressive and will apply a hard lick on the ball carrier. Playing on offense and as a returner, Love runs with good vision and is hard to take down. He has decent speed, but he makes most of his yardage because of his shiftiness.

He did what? (1:23) Love delivers a big hit on a receiver catching a ball in the flat. The seven-yard cushion Love gives the slot receiver at the snap of the ball is erased when Love reads the play. By the time the receiver catches the pass, he has little time to turn around before getting whacked by Love. … (4:56) Sometimes the ball just finds the hands of playmakers. When a screen pass is deflected into the air, Love quickly reacts and gets himself in position to intercept it. He then returns the interception for a touchdown. … (9:12) Love appears to get beat inside on a post route, but he’s able to make up the ground to deflect what could have been a touchdown pass. … (9:20) Love catches a simple crossing route for a first down. But after shaking off one defender and high-stepping away from another one diving at his feet, Love sprints his way to the end zone.

Competition level: Love’s highlight reel starts with a play against likely the best receiver he’s had to play against: Northwestern signee Flynn Nagel. Love intercepted what could have been Nagel’s 29th touchdown catch of the season. Nagel was held scoreless with six catches for 70 yards by Love in the state championship game. The rest of Love’s season was played against mostly inferior competition especially at the receiver position. Wins over talented Joliet Catholic and St. Francis teams stand as Nazareth’s most impressive of the season.

Left to prove: Because Love does so many things for his football team, he has some refining to do on his cornerback skills. He plays a lot of safety for Nazareth, so he doesn’t get challenged in one-on-one situations a lot. He’ll need to make a leap in technical precision to defend elite wide receivers in man coverage. While he has the size of a cornerback, Love could improve on his speed a bit. His strong coverage instincts will only take him so far.

tjames@ndinsider.com | 574-235-6214 | Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Cornerback recruit Julian Love committed to Notre Dame on Saturday, March 21. (Photo courtesy of Chicago Tribune/John J. Kim)