Irish Illustrated – In the film room…Su’a Cravens

Name : Su’a Cravens
Height/Weight : 6-1, 205
Position : Safety/linebacker
Hometown : Murrieta, Calif.
High School : Vista Murrieta
Statistics : Credited with 96 tackles, 12 sacks, five fumbles forced and three interceptions as a junior for 14-0 Vista Murrieta (10-4 with forfeits), which won the California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section championship. Rushed for 673 yards and 15 touchdowns, caught passes for 339 yards and four touchdowns.

Assets A big, powerful-striding, strong athlete with a multi-dimensional skill set. Strong hips and legs puts him on a physical level not often seen from a junior in high school, which he also had as a freshman and sophomore. Quick enough to play safety, but growing into a major college linebacker with tremendous edge skills against the run and as a pass rusher.

Excellent pad level. Gets into the lower body/legs of a ball carrier and disarms him. Great bounce in his step. His lower-body strength is evident by his quick change of direction. Ball carriers don’t fake him out because of that lower-body strength and wide tackling base. Also shows excellent hip turn and make-up speed to run with downfield receivers.

Natural pass-rush instincts. Can go through or around blockers. A physically dominant athlete. One way or another, always making an impact on the game.? Also shows natural running back skills. Has some wiggle, but predominately, a big, powerful, long-striding north-south runner who will run you over or run around you.

Room for improvement His high school coach, Coley Candaele, has talked about Cravens learning how to become a team player within the framework of the defense and “not just running around making plays. Said Candaele: “That’s been an adjustment.” Rivals’ Adam Gorney observed that Cravens isn’t necessarily a “big hit” guy, but is always in the right spot (although the film we’ve seen shows plenty of physicality). At 6-foot-1, does not have prototypical OLB size, but could still be growing height-wise.

Offers The big boys jumped in early, including Arkansas, Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Stanford and USC. Also offering scholarships are Arizona, Arizona State, Boise State, Cal, Colorado, Hawaii (where his brother, Siaki, plays), North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Purdue, UCLA, Washington and Utah State.

Schools that have shown an interest but have not offered include Alabama, Clemson, Tennessee, Texas and Vanderbilt.

Early line Although Cravens named a top five in December of USC, Oklahoma, Stanford, Notre Dame and Arkansas, the waters have been muddied a bit in recent weeks by offers from Michigan, Florida and Nebraska. That prompted Cravens to say on Jan. 18 that Michigan would definitely get one of his visits, as would Oklahoma and Arkansas. (Cravens became familiar with Brady Hoke and his staff during his sophomore season when Hoke and Co., were still at San Diego State.)

Cravens attended USC and UCLA games during the fall. Three-star Vista Murrieta offensive tackle Corey Whitaker is headed to Nebraska, which gives the Cornhuskers a connection to Cravens. Four-star defensive end Jeremy Castro, another teammate of Cravens, is expected to sign with UCLA.

As for Notre Dame, the Irish definitely are in pursuit, led by lead recruiter Mike Denbrock. For Notre Dame’s sake, Cravens hopefully won’t make a decision based upon his perception of Denbrock’s sense of humor. “He’s a good coach, but his jokes aren’t very funny,” said Cravens to Irish Illustrated’s Steve Hare. “(The jokes) are too bad to even remember.”

One thing the team Cravens eventually commits to won’t have to worry about is the validity of his verbal pledge. “I’m not going to be a guy who commits and then de-commits and decides to go somewhere else,” Cravens told Rivals. “I’m going to wait until I’m 100 percent decided in my heart and that’s where I’m going to go.”

ND’s 2013 S/OLB recruiting Safeties that have received offers from Notre Dame, in addition to Cravens, include Marcell Harris (Groveland, Fla.), Leon McQuay III (Seffner, Fla.), Max Redfield (Mission Viejo, Calif.), Dymonte Thomas (Alliance, Ohio; Michigan commit), Jayme Thompson (Toledo, Ohio), and Nick Washington (Jacksonville, Fla.).

Outside linebackers who have been offered a scholarship by the Irish are James Hearns (Tallahassee, Fla.), Michael Hutchings (Concord, Calif.), E.J. Levenberry, Jr. (Woodbridge, Va.) and Jaylon Smith (Fort Wayne, Ind.).

Summary Originally recruited by USC as a running back, it quickly because apparent to the Trojans and everyone else that this is a very special defensive prospect whose versatility and sheer physical superiority make him a rare breed, and those skills must be utilized stopping opposing ball carriers/quarterbacks.

You line this kid up at strong safety – or outside linebacker if he out-grows safety, which he probably will – and turn him loose. He makes such an impact on the edge as a run defender and pass rusher that you’d hate to take him away from that area on the field. Yet he probably could be a dynamic inside linebacker as well with his ability to pursue from the inside out.

Notre Dame may have to make up ground already with Michigan, Oklahoma and Arkansas among his “sure visits.” He has yet to place Notre Dame in that category. With four safeties coming in this season and no outside linebackers (provided Romeo Okwara plays defensive end), Notre Dame will have a specific need at outside linebacker in the signing class of 2013.

This is a no-brainer five-star selection. His hip/leg drive is that of a major college football player today, and quite honestly, it likely will take an injury or a misplaced set of values/focus for this young man not to end up playing on Sundays. He is the real deal.

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