Film study: Notre Dame CB commit Julian Love
CB Julian Love, 5-11, 175; La Grange (Ill.) Nazareth Academy.
The numbers: Love made plays on both sides of the ball in his senior season at Nazareth Academy. He rushed for 1,067 yards and 18 touchdowns on 104 carries and caught 29 passes for 662 yards and seven touchdowns. He added 92 tackles, 19 tackles for a loss, three forced fumbles, one interception and one fumble returned for a touchdown on defense. The Roadrunners (12-2) finished the season with an IHSA Class 5A state championship.
The rankings: Rivals – Four stars, No. 21 cornerback. 247Sports – Three stars, No. 51 cornerback.
First impression: Julian Love is the definition of a playmaker. He impacts the game all over the field and on both sides of the ball. While his future at Notre Dame is likely to be on defense, his highlights at running back are as impressive as either of the Irish running back commits for 2016.
Strengths: Love is a smart football player who uses his athleticism to put him in a position to make plays. On defense, Love is a physical tackler with no fear for playing near the line of scrimmage. He’s shown a comfort for blitzing as well. In coverage, Love reads the quarterback well and has the speed to break on passes when he may appear to be beat. He makes plays on the ball with ease from his time playing wide receiver and running back. As a defensive back, Love always has the chance to turn a turnover into a touchdown. As an offensive player, Love is shifty and uses good vision to find open areas to expose. His speed takes care of the rest.
He did what? (1:14) Love crashes into the left tackle and knocks him to the ground. Love then darts into the backfield and dives to take down the running back from the back side of the play … (1:37) Love meets fellow Irish commit Cole Kmet for a collision on a running play. Love stands up Kmet and rips the ball out of his hands while Kmet tries to break the tackle. Love then picks up the ball and returns the fumble for a touchdown … (4:55) Working in single coverage on a slot receiver, Love sticks with the receiver on an out route. The receiver breaks away from Love when he cuts, but Love quickly recovers to sprint in front of him and intercept the pass.
Competition level: Despite winning a state championship in Class 5A, Nazareth Academy also played against a couple teams in the highest classifications, 7A and 8A. Four teams on the schedule finished in the Illinois top 25 from MaxPreps: Joliet Catholic (No. 8), Marist (No. 14), Lincoln-Way West (No. 16) and Benet Academy (No. 22). The best player Love went against all season was likely Kmet, a 2017 Notre Dame tight end commit, but Love didn’t have to cover him as Kmet played quarterback most of the game.
Left to prove: In order to allow him to have a greater impact on the game, Love rarely played strictly cornerback in high school. He was used more as a safety so teams couldn’t avoid him. But if he’s asked to play cornerback at Notre Dame, he’s going to need to get used to playing on an island more. His ability to play man coverage will dictate his opportunities to get on the field. And while Love showed a lot of shiftiness as an offensive player, it will be intriguing to watch how that translates to his work as a defensive back. He doesn’t have great size, so Love will need to nail the footwork and body positioning necessary for college cornerbacks.