By Michael Rubin, Domer Sports Report
Notre Dame Football
In part two of our series, we will take a look at who the Irish are looking to bring in next year to play the fullback position. Notre Dame currently has offers out to two of the nations top ranked fullbacks.
- Toben Opurum is a 6'2 230lb fullback from Plano, Texas. Currently, Opurum holds offers from Arkansas, Florida, Kansas, LSU, Nebraska, Purdue, Texas and Notre Dame. He is considered a tweener by many recruiters. Florida, Kansas, Purdue, Texas Tech and Arkansas all view Opurum as a running back and Notre Dame and LSU view him as a fullback. Toben, a running back for Plano East, prefers to play running back in college, but is still considering the possibility of playing fullback. The Irish offered him a scholarship over the summer when he came to South Bend for a visit. Opurum wants to make a decision on his position and where he will attend school after his Plano East season is over. Recruiting Coordinator Rob Ianello and Charlie Weis have been in contact with Opurum and Ianello actually went to Plano East HS to visit him this past weekend. If Opurum decides that he wants to play fullback in college he would probably schedule another visit to Notre Dame in the winter but if he prefers running back, it appears he will not be visiting South Bend. Here is espn.com's scouting report on Opurum:
"Opurum is physically impressive as a running back prospect with his great size and above average straight-line speed. He is tall, well-built and still lean enough to add another 10-15 pounds of added bulk while retaining his current speed and quickness. Hands are soft and overall receiving skills are good making full or H-back a strong possibility. Has a knack for finding the soft spots in zone defenses, snags most balls with his hands, transitions quickly upfield and can make the first defender miss. As a runner, he shows some shiftiness through the hole and possesses adequate lateral quickness for his size to sidestep the initial traffic and bounce outside. Lacks good urgency out of his stance through the hole but can be a load at the high school level to bring down once he builds speed. Runs through arm tackles with his long, strong stride and thicker thighs. However, he displays very little burst through the hole and runs without good body-tilt. Will struggle retaining current yards after contact production at the next level and could expose his body to big hits. He is a big target out of the backfield as a pass catcher, but his long body often hinders his suddenness as an in-line runner. Marginal extra gear when he gets outside or finds a north-south seam. Overall, Opurum looks good on paper as a running back prospect but lacks good explosiveness as a downhill, in-line runner and the perimeter speed and quickness to hurt you outside. Tools to develop into an effective tailback but upside may be better as a tight end, full or H-back at a BCS level program."
- The other fullback the Irish are targeting is 6'1 215lb Tyler Gaffney from San Diego, California. Gaffney has scholarship offers from San Diego State, USC, Stanford, UCLA, Utah and the Irish. A 4-star fullback according to Rivals.com, Gaffney recently narrowed his choices down to three schools. Stanford, USC, and Notre Dame all made the cut. USC likes him as a running back or fullback. Stanford sees him strictly as a tailback and the Irish want to use him purely at fullback. Gaffney will take an official visit to South Bend November 21 to watch the Irish take on Syracuse. It is said that Tyler grew up rooting for the Irish and loves the tradition. Through four games this season he has rushed for more than 600 yards and 14 touchdowns. Here is his evaluation from espn.com:
"Gaffney is a load of a back at the high school level with a good blend of size, speed and determination as an in-line runner. He is tall, thickly-built but does a job of running with proper shoulder lean and body-tilt. Shows deceptive lateral quickness and burst bouncing it outside and turning the corner but most production stems off tough, explosive, between the tackles runs. Hits the hole with good urgency and is quick to square up his shoulders out of his initial cut and head north south. Generates good speed and power quickly allowing him to run through arm tackles and bounce out of traffic; this kid finishes runs. Possesses a thick and powerful upper- and lower- body and runs low to the ground with great leg drive; difficult to wrap him up solidly. However, he currently lacks the vision, suddenness and feel for the cutback lane to project well as zone runner at the next level. Struggles picking and sliding through traffic, slipping through the small creases and making something out of nothing. A true north-south back that could continue to develop the size and strength necessary to wear down a defense as a college runner and occasionally break off a long run with his good top-end speed. Overall, Gaffney could be productive in the right downhill, power running system or potentially make a slide down to fullback or over to defense as an outside linebacker with his great size to speed measurables. Great athlete for his size and should be an asset on special teams as well."