Film Study: Early-enrolled Notre Dame S Isaiah Robertson

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

S Isaiah Robertson, 6-2, 195; Naperville (Ill.) Neuqua Valley.

The numbers: Robertson was limited for part of his senior season with a hamstring injury, but he still recorded 50 tackles, two fumble recoveries and an interception on defense. He added 29 catches for 380 yards and four touchdowns as a wide receiver. Neuqua Valley (8-2) lost in the first round of the IHSA Class 8A playoffs.

The rankings: 247Sports – Four stars, No. 23 safety. Rivals – Four stars, No. 18 athlete.

FILM BREAKDOWN

Film link here.

First impression: Robertson is a sure tackler on defense. He’s also been a playmaker as a wide receiver. He should be able to put those skills together to become a reliable safety for Notre Dame.

Strengths: Robertson has displayed good instincts as a safety. He reads the play developing in front of him well and puts himself in a position to make a tackle. When Robertson arrives at the ball, he doesn’t slow down. He explodes into his tackles and tries to prevent the ball carrier from even falling forward. His future at Notre Dame will likely be on defense, but Robertson has been a solid receiver in high school. He might be a better receiver than Notre Dame’s only commitment at the position – Michael Young. Robertson tracks the ball well and has good body control when leaping to make a catch.

Proof of prowess: (:41) The opposing running back finds a nice hole in the Neuqua Valley defense, but Robertson closes it quickly. He charges down from his safety position, wraps up the ball carrier and drives him back for an emphatic tackle … (1:10) Robertson’s game awareness is on display in a punt return situation. He starts the play nearly 15 yards off the line of scrimmage, but when he recognizes a loose ball following a high snap, Robertson runs to the play. When the punter dives to get on the ball, Robertson is still 20 yards away. He doesn’t give up on the play and when no one can pick up the ball, Robertson scoops it up, dodges an attempted tackle and scores a touchdown … (3:18) Robertson makes a mistake and picks the wrong side of a block to try and attack the running back. But he redeems himself by pivoting and getting back into the play. His first attempt to bring down the running back is a failed lunge, but Robertson regains his balance and quickly closes the gap to chase down the defender. The fast burst of speed from Robertson is impressive.

Competition level: Neuqua Valley plays in the top-heavy DuPage Valley Conference and received a playoff bid in the highest classification in Illinois. The Wildcats won eight straight games before losing to Glenbard North, the No. 12 team in the state, according to MaxPreps, and Glenbard West (No. 8) in the final two weeks of the season. Neuqua Valley did beat conference foe Naperville North (No. 25). Robertson played against few FBS-level players as a senior. Glenbard North featured Northwestern wide receiver commit Jace James.

Left to prove: I would have liked to see more of Robertson in coverage during his highlights. His experience as a receiver should allow him to make plays on the ball in the air, but how will he fare backpedaling and keeping everything in front of him? Can Robertson keep up with receivers down the field? It’s too hard to judge from these highlights. With safety being such a critical position for Notre Dame in recent years, Robertson getting a chance to work with defensive coordinator Mike Elko as an early enrollee is extremely valuable.

tjames@ndinsider.com

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Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Safety Isaiah Robertson enrolled at Notre Dame earlier this month. (Photo courtesy of Daniel White/Daily Herald)