Film Study: Notre Dame OL commit John Dirksen

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

OL John Dirksen, 6-5, 290; Maria Stein (Ohio) Marion Local.

The numbers: Dirksen paved the way for a team that scored 503 points in his sophomore season. Marion Local (13-2) lost to Kirtland in the OHSAA Division VI state championship.

The rankings: 247Sports – Three stars, No. 35 offensive tackle. Rivals – Three stars.


Film link here

First impression: Dirksen is a bruising offensive lineman always looking for a defender to bully. He pulverizes lesser opponents in his path. Dirksen plays tackle, but his traits could land him at guard at Notre Dame.

Strengths: Dirksen does what the biggest player on the field should do: dominate. He was already inflicting damage on opposing defenses as a sophomore. Not only does Dirksen overpower defenders in front of him, he’s constantly moving downfield to find another block. He rarely takes himself out of the play by going to the ground when finishing a block. Dirksen uses a strong punch and active feet to control smaller defensive linemen like rag dolls.

Proof of prowess: (:52) Dirksen seals off a defensive lineman to the inside to allow for a sweep. He takes the defender to the ground and immediately moves to a linebacker and knocks him down too … (1:28) Dirksen overwhelms a defensive lineman with a two-handed shot to the chest. The defender flails his arms as a result and gets taken for a ride to the dirt … (2:06) Dirksen shows his athleticism by serving as a lead blocker on a screen pass. He moves around an edge defender, knocks a linebacker out of the way and plows into a defensive back to finish the path to the end zone.

Competition level: Ohio has rightly earned its reputation as a football breeding ground in the Midwest. However, Dirksen often doesn’t play against the best the state has to offer. Marion is in the Division VI classification in Ohio, the second-smallest in the state. Only three teams on Marion’s schedule in 2015 finished inside the state’s top 50, according to MaxPreps: Coldwater (No. 12), Kirtland (No. 45) and Mechanicsburg (No. 49). None of the teams featured a player ranked by Rivals in the top 60 of the 2016 or 2017 classes.

Left to prove: How will Dirksen react when faced with stronger competition? He’s so much bigger than the defenders he’s been asked to block, it’s only natural that he overpowers them. Dirksen will need to sharpen his technique to take on the tougher tasks. Pass blocking wasn’t a big part of Dirksen’s highlight reel, but that will likely be a deciding factor if he can stay outside at tackle. When dropping in pass protection, Dirksen showed a tendency for turning his shoulders early in his set. He will want to try to stay square to the line of scrimmage for as long as possible to create a tougher challenge for pass rushers.


Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Notre Dame's offensive line coach Harry Hiestand has found consistent success on the recruiting trail. SBT Photo/GREG SWIERCZ