Film Study: Notre Dame early enrollee OL Robert Hainsey

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

OL Robert Hainsey, 6-5, 295; Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy.

The numbers: Hainsey helped pave the way for an IMG offense that racked up more than 2,000 passing yards, 1,879 rushing yards and 36.4 points per game. The Ascenders (11-0) finished the season undefeated and extended the program’s winning streak to 29 games.

The rankings: 247Sports – Four stars, No. 8 offensive guard. Rivals – Four stars, No. 11 offensive tackle.

FILM BREAKDOWN

Film link here.

First impression: Hainsey is a versatile offensive lineman with strength in the running game and in pass protection. Two years playing against top competition has definitely aided his development. Hainsey has found a successful blend of technique and toughness.

Strengths: Unlike with most highlight films of offensive line recruits, you don’t have to wait long to see Hainsey show his skills as a pass blocker. He plays like an offensive tackle while having the build of an offensive guard. His quick feet, strong punch and balance allow him to provide a wall for his quarterback. As a run blocker, Hainsey positions himself well to shield defenders away from the ball carrier. He also pulls with a purpose and moves well laterally. As a bonus, Hainsey clearly knows what to do with the ball in his hands for a two-point conversion.

Proof of prowess: (:16) As Hainsey retreats to make contact with an oncoming pass rusher, said pass rusher decides to jump in the air in an ill-advised attempt to deflect a pass. As soon as the defender leaps, Hainsey initiates his punch and takes him on a ride to the ground. I doubt the defender did that again … (:48) Hainsey fights off a nice hit from the defensive end and counters with his own punch. As soon as the defender loses balance, Hainsey flattens him … (2:48) Hainsey pulls to his right and finds his mark. He powers his way through the line and takes down a defender.

Competition level: Most games were probably easier than practices for Hainsey, who had to square off against Florida State commit Joshua Kaindoh and Georgia commit Robert Beal, two of the best defensive ends in the country, at IMG. Yet the IMG schedule was still loaded with top teams from around the country. The Ascenders defeated the No. 1 team in Georgia (Grayson), the No. 2 and No. 3 teams in Maryland (St. John’s and St. Frances) and the No. 3 team in California (Centennial) — all rankings via MaxPreps. Against St. John’s, Hainsey had to block Texas A&M commit Tyree Johnson and Maryland commit Kofi Wardlow. Hainsey also challenged himself at The Opening and the Under Armour All-America Game.

Left to prove: Can Hainsey stay outside at tackle or will he move inside? Recruiting services are split on his projection, and it’s easy to understand why. Hainsey has the thick build of a guard, but he plays well in space. Hainsey’s few struggles in pass protection at all-star events usually came with speed rushers on the outside. If he moves to the interior, he’ll have to adapt to playing in tight quarters and rooting defenders out of their gaps. With Notre Dame’s depth on the offensive line, Harry Hiestand should have plenty of time to determine Hainsey’s best position.

tjames@ndinsider.com

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Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Freshman offensive lineman Robert Hainsey, who enrolled at Notre Dame earlier this month, talks with former Irish player Mike Golic during practice for the Under Armour All-America Game. (Photo courtesy of Intersport)