Notre Dame had four of its 12 committed players from the 2018 class in attendance at the June 10th Irish Invasion, but a number of top target and other talented prospects were also in attendance.
A look at how Notre Dame’s top targets and other prospects performed at the camp:
The most impressive player at camp was Blairtown (N.J.) Blair Academy defensive end Jayson Oweh, who was recently inserted into the Rivals250. Oweh has only played football for a year, and it’s apparent that he still needs a lot of work as a player.
What cannot be questioned is his tremendous frame and elite athletic skills. Oweh is 6-5 and has the frame to at least grow to be 260 pounds, possibly over 270, and still get faster and more explosive.
He has outstanding lower body explosiveness, which was evidenced by his 4.57 in the 40-yard dash. That is truly elite speed for a player that is 6-5 and checked in this summer at over 230 pounds.
Just as important is the fact his speed and explosiveness translated over into football drills. Oweh’s burst off the line is truly elite; he’s an agile athlete that changes directions well and once he learns proper hand technique and placement that will be a strength as well. I was impressed with how fast and physical Oweh was with his hands.
Another New Jersey player defender showed why he’s at the top of the board for Notre Dame’s staff. Jersey City (N.J.) St. Peter’s Prep rover Shayne Simon had an impressive showing at the Irish Invasion.
Simon made a strong impression during drills, where his quick feet, loose hips and athleticism allowed him to shine. Everything Simon does on the football field is smooth and easy. He’s a natural athlete and a natural football player. His change of direction will be important for him at the rover spot in Notre Dame’s defense, should he eventually end up in the class.
Indianapolis (Ind.) Lawrence Central linebacker Cameron McGrone continued an impressive summer. Despite offseason knee surgery McGrone continues to impress with his speed and athleticism. McGrone ran a 4.62 in his first 40-yard dash attempt, which brought a smile to the faces of the Notre Dame coaches doing the timing.
Where the recovery from his knee injury still shows is with some of the change of direction drills. McGrone shows good agility and explosiveness when planting off the leg he didn’t injure, but at times he looks a bit hesitant to explode off his other leg. That is natural and the more he does it the more comfortable he will get.
What I really liked about McGrone was his foot speed. When he does get back to full-speed his athleticism is really going to take off even more.
Mishawaka (Ind.) Penn safety Paul Moala was the biggest surprise of the camp. Moala has good film but questions remained about whether or not he was athletically on the level he would need to be in order to play at Notre Dame. Moala answered those questions and put on a good show at the Irish Invasion.
Moala initially caught the eye of those in attendance by posting a 4.4 with his first 40-yard dash. He followed that up with good work in position drills.
Defensive coordinator Mike Elko put him through a number of change of direction drills, and Moala looked good in each of them. He was quick with his backpedal, he showed good lateral quickness and he transitioned much easier than I thought he would going in.
Indianapolis (Ind.) North Central cornerback D.J. Johnson was not at full speed after rolling on his ankle in the early going, but the young man earned my respect during the event because he didn’t stop working out.
Johnson has already been offered by Notre Dame and the fact he wasn’t 100-percent meant he had every reason not to work out, but yet he fought through some pain and kept after it. That willingness to compete in less than ideal circumstances says something about Johnson.
Johnson isn’t the fastest player, running a 4.5-plus in the 40-yard dash, although he did have a slight stumble when he ran. What he did show was an ease of motion that allows him to maximize the speed he does have. Johnson has nimble feet, he keeps them low to the ground and he can quickly plant and drive.
I was hoping that Coatesville (Pa.) defensive back Avery Young would run a good 40-time, but he did not. Young was timed around a 4.7, but outside of that I liked what I saw from him. Young is a good athlete that shows some explosive potential with some work. He was physical in one-on-one’s and showed good instincts in coverage.
Avon (Ind.) wide receiver Isaac Guerendo had an impressive 40-yard dash time of a 4.45. He is a strong athlete but that didn’t translate into football specific drills as well as it did for Moala. He has to work on his catching technique, but the athleticism is definitely there.
Solon (Ohio) cornerback Taj Ward had a good workout as well. He’s a quick athlete with relatively fast feet and good coverage instincts.
West Lafayette (Ind.) defensive end George Karlaftis wasn’t as impressive at Irish Invasion as he was at the Nike Football The Opening Regional in Chicago. Karlaftis was pressing and was trying to do too much. He’s also a pretty raw player, which isn't surprising from a young man who has yet to play his junior season of high school.
Karlaftis has to work on using his hands better, but the power and motor that makes him a top prospect were on full display. He showed good foot quickness, but his lack of technique had him out of position and off balance far too often.
Once he learns how to play with a good base and use his hands better he’ll be a major force. All the tools are there.
Another in-state player caught my eye at the Irish Invasion, and his raw talent is truly special. Fort Wayne (Ind.) Wayne wide receiver Craig Young has all the tools to be a five-star player, he just lacks the feel for the game and the technique.
Young is every bit of 6-4 and he’s put together incredibly well for a young player. He posted a 4.48 in the 40-yard dash, which is impressive for someone his age and size. The next step for Young is harnessing all that athleticism into a finely tuned football player.
Young is a three-sport athlete who has yet to really focus on becoming a fundamentally sound football player. He fights the ball too much; Young has a tendency to slowly put his hands out for the ball and he has stiff fingers. What he must learn to do is shoot his hands at the ball and soften his fingers. It can be coached, and once he does that he’ll catch the ball just fine.
Young’s upside is truly elite.
Coatesville (Pa.) running back Aaron Young – the younger brother of Avery Young – was arguably the most impressive back in attendance. Young lacks ideal size, but he’s fast ad explosive. He was extremely hard to guard during one-on-one’s.
LaGrange Park (Ill.) Nazareth Academy wide receiver Michael Love is the younger brother of Notre Dame sophomore cornerback Julian Love. The younger Love lacks his brother’s size, and that is the biggest knock on him at this point. It might keep him from being as heavily recruited as his brother.
What Love can do is run and catch the football. He showed very good speed and he tracked the deep ball well. When defensive backs got hands on him Love had some issues, but he’s not easy to get hands on and if corners don’t get hands on him he can run by them.
Hilinski has prototype size and arm strength. He throws with good power and knows how to use touch. The California native gets good zip on the ball and he can get it downfield quite well for a young player. The more his body physically matures the stronger his arm is going to get. Hilinski showed good timing and a very good feel for passing the ball for such a young player.
Hilinski will have to work on ball placement – not surprising for a sophomore – but he has very good raw tools.
Howell is on the shorter side but he gets very good zip on the football and he was accurate as a passer.
Hewitt (Ala.) Trussville quarterback Paul Tyson has very good size and he has some arm potential, but he he’s a bit slow footed in the pocket and the ball doesn’t jump out of his hand yet.