Notre Dame football recruiting: Kizer's skills blend well with system

TYLER JAMES - <a href="http:

DeShone Kizer found a fit at Notre Dame.

But when the four-star quarterback makes his way to South Bend nextsummer, the question will be how Kizer fits in the Irish spreadoffense.

On paper and on film, Kizer brings a number of qualities that canexcel in an offense designed by Brian Kelly. The 6-foot-4, 215-poundpossesses the height to sit in the pocket and pick apart secondaries,but also has the athleticism to stretch the pocket and make plays withhis legs.

Kelly has shown an affinity for dual-threat quarterbacks at NotreDame. Everett Golson was given the reins as a redshirt freshman in2012 in part because of his play-making ability. The Irish pickedanother dual-threat quarterback in the 2013 recruiting class withfreshman Malik Zaire.

A dual-threat quarterback isn't a necessity in the spread offense, butKelly has certainly established that trend. That's why CBS SportsNetwork recruiting analyst Tom Lemming saw a potential match withKizer and Notre Dame before the quarterback committed.

"He has that skill set that you want in a spread offense quarterbackthat can throw on the run and can tuck and run when he gets forcedout," Lemming said. "He's got the intangibles that I think NotreDame's looking for."

Kizer runs a variation of the spread offense at Toledo CentralCatholic, which won the Division II state championship in Ohio lastseason.

"We run a lot of the same concepts," Kizer said. "Notre Dame is aschool that can come out and run a pro-style offense for you and theycan also run a spread offense for you. I believe at my school I do thesame thing. We can come out in a drive and do nothing but doubletights, power it up the gut, run some play-action and all pro-stylestuff. But we can also come out and spread you out with five wide.Notre Dame does one of the best jobs in the world of doing that."

Despite growing up in a family of Michigan fans, Kizer kept a closeeye on the Irish during the 2012 season. As a part of a recruitingvisit to Michigan State last September, Kizer watched the Irish beatthe Spartans 20-3 in East Lansing. He came away impressed with NotreDame's style of play that led the team to a national championshipappearance.

"Sitting down and watching some film of their offense really showed methat that's the style of offense I want to have. A lot of the callsand a lot of the checks are all run through the quarterback," Kizersaid. "They give you a lot of power out there. I believe that'sexactly what I want to do when I'm in college. There's no betteroffense that I can run than what Notre Dame has."

Battling with Kentucky

Not known as a power in the Southeastern Conference, the University ofKentucky football program has found success on the recruiting trailthis offseason since hiring Mike Stoops as head coach.

Despite a 2-10 record last season, the Wildcats have started the 2014cycle strong and collected a class of 15 verbal commitments that ranksas No. 5 on and No. 7 on

On Monday, defensive back Darius West, who recently received an offerto Notre Dame, committed to the Wildcats. The 6-0, 195-pound recruitfrom Lima (Ohio) Central Catholic picked Kentucky before making aplanned visit to Notre Dame later in June.

The Irish and Wildcats historically don't compete for the samerecruits, but Stoops has claimed eight verbal commitments from thetalent-rich state of Ohio that Notre Dame has repeatedly mined forplayers.

The Irish made another shared target with Kentucky on Tuesday whensafeties coach Bob Elliott extended an offer to defensive tackle MattElam.. The 6-6, 340-pound rising senior from Elizabethtown, Ky., saidhe hadn't heard from the Notre Dame coach at all until Elliott reachedout to offer.

One of the top prospects in the Bluegrass State, Elam ranks as the No.20 defensive tackle according to 247Sports and No. 24 according toRivals.

Elam said the offer from Notre Dame put the Irish in his top fivewhich also includes Kentucky, Ohio State, Alabama and Louisville.

Defensive line visitors

As the Irish continue to look to fill the void that was meant to befilled by Eddie Vanderdoes in the 2013 class, the coaching staff hasbeen able to raise interest in multiple defensive lineman in the 2014class.

On Monday, defensive end Solomon Thomas made a visit to Notre Dame'scampus. The four-star prospect from Coppell, Texas, made the tripfollowing the Rivals 100 Challenge in Chicago over the weekend.

The 6-3, 256-pound Thomas ranks as a top five strongside defensive endaccording to both Rivals and 247Sports and a top 40 recruit overall.

Another top defensive line target, Thomas Holley, plans to visit laterin June. The 6-4, 290-pound prospect from Brooklyn, N.Y., attends thesame high school, Lincoln, as Irish linebacker Ishaq Williams.

Holley ranks as the No. 4 defensive tackle and No. 84 overallaccording to Rivals. 247Sports slates Holley as the No. 9 defensivetackle and No. 70 overall.

Staff writer Tyler James:


DeShone Kizer