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Freshman Focus: Michael Deeb

Jun 24, 2013, 2:09 PM EDT


All-American Manti Te’o is gone. Dan Fox and Carlo Calabrese will move on after this season as well. Left to take over on the inside are recruits handpicked by Brian Kelly and Bob Diaco to play in this defense.

Those selections haven’t been plentiful. Already put on scholarship is recruiting walk-on Joe Schmidt, who has mostly played special teams. While the staff has high hopes for Te’o’s replacement, Jarrett Grace, there’s not a lot of depth at the inside linebacker position, especially after this season.

That’s what makes the signing of a player like Michael Deeb so important. At 6-foot-2, 240-pounds, Deeb is a ready-made middle linebacker, a physical specimen that will immediately look the part getting off the bus. He may not have been the most highly recruited player the Irish were chasing at the position (that would be Alex Anzalone, who left the Irish at the altar just days before early enrollment), but he’s a guy the staff has looked long and hard at and feels confident he’ll fit their system.

“We had eyes on Michael Deeb. Michael came here to our camp. We were able to observe Michael,” Kelly said on Signing Day. “We love his energy, we love the way he plays the game, and obviously from our standpoint feel like he’s a guy that can come in and obviously compete for us.”

By default, Deeb will have to compete, first on special teams and in ’14 for a starting role. Let’s take a closer look at the Florida product and see what he has to offer.


Deeb may be one of the least highly decorated players in the Irish recruiting class. He falls outside of every services’ Top 250, though he does have some intriguing scholarship offers, namely Florida State.

Perhaps what’s most interesting about Deeb is his development as a football player. Listening to the Irish coaching staff talk about Deeb, they saw a football player who dramatically improved between his junior and senior seasons. Playing for one of the top programs in Florida, Deeb improved on all the minor deficiencies the coaching staff saw in his game — things they asked Deeb to work on.

A highly productive football player on Fridays doesn’t always equate to that on Saturdays, and there’s likely a level of athleticism missing that kept some programs from offering him. That said, Deeb profiles perfectly as a program fit both on and off the field, and he’s a guy the staff thinks will end up being a productive player in their system.


Expect to see Deeb on the field almost immediately, a special teams presence almost from the start. From there, it might only be a season before Deeb finds his way into the starting rotation at linebacker, just from a numbers perspective.

The depth chart in ’13 looks to be fine at the top with the platoon of Fox and Calabrese partnering with Grace to anchor the defense. But the development of Kendall Moore — a productive player when given the opportunity, but one that clearly still is missing a few elements to his game — will likely determine whether its Deeb that slides in or Moore.

There’s no doubt that looking at the numbers, finding inside linebackers is a key to this recruiting class. Numbers almost demand that Deeb find his way onto the field in this defense, and making sure guys like Grace, ’14 prospect Greer Martini, and at least one more body get infused into the depth chart.


It’s hard to look at Deeb and not think of other Irish linebackers. First and foremost, it’ll be interesting to see if Deeb has more athleticism than Carlo Calabrese, a hit first, ask questions later type player that struggles athletically with some of the demands of his position. Since Bob Diaco took over the defense, Calabrese has been a productive player, especially in the run game.

Another player Deeb reminds me of is Mike Goolsby, the highly touted Chicagoland prospect who wasn’t the all-everything player many expected, but still had a productive finish to his collegiate career. Goolsby had a little bit more height than Deeb, but both players should bring a physicality to the field immediately.

The combination of necessity and ability will determine a lot about Deeb’s next four seasons. The staff expects him to see the field quickly, and if they believe he can be a cover man on special teams perhaps he’s faster than many recruiting experts think. All reports call Deeb an excellent leader and a born football player. Those virtues are also important ones for a linebacker.

Expect Deeb to be a contributor from the start. His ceiling? That’s up to the evaluation and development skills of the staff, and the want-to of the player.



  1. mtflsmitty - Jun 24, 2013 at 3:36 PM

    Will be interesting to see how BK’s “process” impacts a guy like Deeb. Clearly, Deeb is not expected to be a game changing sort of guy, at least not yet. But his recruitment says something about how Diaco feels about fitting certain type players into his system.

    Keith, NBC HQ has received calls from Mr. And Mrs. Tiller and Mr. And Mrs. Tillery. Both sets of parents want to know which if their sons has recently committed to The Irish.

  2. papadec - Jun 24, 2013 at 3:52 PM

    Which “OF” – we all make mistakes. Or is it UV?

  3. fnc111 - Jun 24, 2013 at 4:01 PM

    CBK’s “process” is to get to the nfl ASAP.

    • danirish - Jun 25, 2013 at 11:28 AM

      Now where is my spray can of “Troll-b-Gon!”

    • shaunodame - Jul 5, 2013 at 1:25 PM

      FNC’s “process” is to be as inaccurate and unoriginal as possible. Slander and accusations of complete fabrication are a MUST. lameeeeeee

  4. padomer - Jun 24, 2013 at 4:12 PM

    MLB seems like a difficult position to project…think of some stars from previous college and NFL years and many of them were not highly sought of – the PSU LB’s, Luke Keuchly, Urlacher, etc. It’s always nice to sign an unheralded MLB who catches your attention and refuses to let it go. Seems like a hard working, high motor kid that will not allow himself to be anything less that at least a contributor. Whenever the term “motor” is listed as someone’s strength, you know you have a player that will never leave you asking “what if?” Kid is a gamer.

  5. padomer - Jun 24, 2013 at 4:15 PM

    P.S. I’ve been searching the net for news about the camp namely what Lorenzo, Elam, Holmes and the other big timers thoughts were. Can’t find a thing. Does anybody have a link or know personally where we stand with each after the visits?

    Did hear about the mammoth LT from Leesiana, thats huge.

  6. dudeacow - Jun 24, 2013 at 4:55 PM

    Back when he committed, someone on this board mentioned how big his neck is. I read an ESPN article on a NFL ILB and it went in rather extensively on the fact that you can tell how strong a player is and how hard he hits by how muscular his neck is. In that case, Deeb will be great. I’ve always been insanely high on Michael, and find it hard to believe that he won’t start for at least two seasons. I think he’ll be starting by next year.

    His forte is the run game, obviously, but he also picked off four passes, I think, in his senior year. Kinda like a poor man’s version of Te’o, I guess.

  7. gtizzo - Jun 24, 2013 at 8:04 PM

    Deeb will be the next Danny Spond at ND. Spond was an unsung hero last season as Manti, Nix and others took the spotlight. He will do his job be productive and the people will wonder if some higher level recruit will take his place. Odds are he also ends up an unsung hero as it is more likely Jaylon Smith will take the spotlight at linebacker in the future.

  8. 4horsemenrideagain - Jun 24, 2013 at 8:19 PM

    This kids looks like a young chuck lidell. He is going to put the “hit” back in “oh sh!t”

  9. loadofwash - Jun 24, 2013 at 9:25 PM

    Looks way to small to be an impact vs the big boys. Me thinks history repeats itself tirelessly with this program. Oh well fellas, D-Fence, who are we kidding…

    • danirish - Jun 25, 2013 at 11:29 AM

      Run Forrest, run!

    • bernhtp - Jun 25, 2013 at 11:31 AM

      Obviously way too small to be successful as a middle linebacker.'o-69245

  10. jerseyshorendfan1 - Jun 24, 2013 at 10:14 PM

    Hey jackload, look, I don’t care if you post here. I don’t care if you’re a Bama fan or if you follow the Nitwit Lions of State Penn (or is it Penn State? I can’t seem to keep that straight). However, can you stop using the phrase “me thinks”? It was appropriate for like Shakespeare and it doesn’t make you sound intelligent (well, to be frank, none of your posts do that). It just sounds really stupid. You may now carry on with your meaningless shit.

    Regarding the article, I love guys like Deeb who fly completely under the radar and then become a pleasant surprise. I can hear it now……..ND Stadium, 4th quarter, opponent driving to try and tie the score, it’s third and short and the crowd begins to chant, “Deeb-fense, Deeb-fense, Deeb-fense!” I see big things ahead for this kid.

    • papadec - Jun 25, 2013 at 2:06 AM

      Right on joisey – right on! To be a bit corny with a throw back expression – “it ain’t the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog”. Or something like that – if I didn’t get the quote quite right.

  11. yaketyyacc - Jun 25, 2013 at 7:12 AM

    remember what Einstein’s math teacher told him: Albert, math is your biggest weakness, stay away from it.” finally we know the teacher’s name: loadowash. you were wrong then, and hey why change.
    Thanks for the slogan DEEB FENSE. the young man looks just right.

  12. andy44teg - Jun 25, 2013 at 10:36 AM

    I don’t know why any of you guys are ragging on his size. 6’2″ 240 is a brick shit house!

    • 4horsemenrideagain - Jun 25, 2013 at 3:38 PM

      240 lbs BEFORE Longo puts him to work.

      this kid is going to be something, just watch his clips. he plays angry and tackles like the ballcarrier took his lunch money or maybe stole his camaro, wrecked it, spraypainted the opposing team’s name all over it and then parked it in front of his school.

      • jerseyshorendfan1 - Jun 25, 2013 at 10:18 PM

        Love the reference. “Well, which is it? Is he gonna shit or is he gonna kill us?”
        “First he’s gonna shit, THEN he’s gonna kill us.”

      • 4horsemenrideagain - Jun 26, 2013 at 9:52 AM

        jerz, glad you caught it. i was going to add “my old man has a killer set of tools” to drive the point home.

  13. 1historian - Jun 25, 2013 at 12:32 PM

    To all of you including Keith who seem to be damning this kid with faint praise: I quote you

    “Hit first ask questions later”

    sounds like a good starting point to me.

  14. tsombanj - Jun 25, 2013 at 2:30 PM

    I think Pete Bercich when I look at this kid. And that’s the kind of guy you would line up next to any day of the week. You can keep your stars and recruiting service love affairs, this kid puts on his helmet and plays every down.

  15. 4horsemenrideagain - Jun 26, 2013 at 11:50 AM

    I’ve heard Deeb is wearing #42. The second coming of Stonebreaker, not to be blasphemous or anything.

    • 1historian - Jun 26, 2013 at 3:14 PM

      I would settle for that.

      What a name for a d player – Atonebreaker

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