Film study: Notre Dame S enrollee Devin Studstill

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

S Devin Studstill, 6-0, 189; Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.) High.

The numbers: Studstill recorded 36 tackles and one interception in his senior season at Palm Beach Gardens. He added 18 receptions and three touchdowns on offense. The Gators (6-4) ended their season with a first-round loss in the FHSAA Class 8A playoffs.

The rankings: 247Sports — Four stars, No. 12 safety. Rivals — Three stars, No. 45 athlete

FILM BREAKDOWN

First impression: Studstill is an explosive player who impacted the game on both sides of the ball. His speed and football IQ allows Studstill to diagnose plays and promptly disrupt them. Studstill could develop at either safety position or as a nickelback at Notre Dame.

Strengths: Studstill’s football instincts stand out in his defensive highlights. He reads plays quickly and immediately breaks on the ball. He can make up a lot of ground in a short amount of time. Studstill also changes directions with precision. When Studstill arrives to the ball, he’s a sure tackler with an appreciation for contact. In coverage, Studstill turns and runs with receivers well. He has a knack for getting his arm or hand in the way at the last moment to break up a pass. Studstill’s skills on the offensive side of the ball could make him a candidate as a special teams return man. He could also do some damage returning interceptions and fumbles.

He did what? (:51) Studstill shows his speed and shiftiness on a 10-yard touchdown catch. He makes the catch on a short drag route in the middle of the field, but realizes he’s outflanked. So Studstill cuts back to the direction he came from and makes the first defender miss. Then with four defenders in front of him, he sprints to end zone before than can close on him … (3:27) Studstill starts out of the picture as a deep safety. As soon as he recognizes the wide receiver screen, he charges downfield where he meets a blocker. He delivers a hit on the blocker and powers through to wrap up the ball carrier … (3:59) Lined up in the slot, Studstill starts his backpedal before quickly reading a swing pass to the running back. When the quarterback releases the ball, Studstill is 10 yards away from the receiver. He closes the gap so quickly that the receiver barely has time to haul in the pass and take two steps before getting leveled by Studstill.

Competition level: Studstill played against a number of talented skill players in his high school career. The programs on the Palm Beach Gardens schedule regularly produce Division I talent. The best team on the 2015 slate was Dwyer, which featured three-star quarterback Todd Centeio and Washington State wide receiver commit Isaiah Johnson. MaxPreps rated Dwyer as the No. 49 team in Florida. Studstill also faced wide receiver Ahmmon Richards of Wellington, a four-star recruit.

Left to prove: There’s little doubt that Studstill could be a talented strong safety. And that skill set could allow him to push for playing time as a freshman with Elijah Shumate no longer around for the Irish. But will Studstill’s coverage skills be polished enough? That seems to be the biggest question. Most of his highlights are coming up and making tackles near the line of scrimmage. He’ll need to be as comfortable retreating in coverage. That could allow him to also be a free safety in the future. He appears to have the speed and explosiveness to play both positions. Early lessons from defensive backs coach Todd Lyght this spring should be helpful.

tjames@ndinsider.com

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Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Notre Dame safety Devin Studstill could challenge for playing time as a freshman. (Photo courtesy of Palm Beach Post)