Blue and Gold Illustrated

February 2017

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 39 of 55

40 FEBRUARY 2017 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED FOOTBALL RECRUITING A number of Notre Dame commits had strong all-star game performances BY BRYAN DRISKELL T he last four months have not been overly kind to the Fighting Irish football program. After going 4-8 during the 2016 season, Notre Dame has struggled to add to its recruiting class, and the bad karma of the on- field performance has spread to the group of incoming players. Five members of the 2017 class that were once committed to Notre Dame have since changed their minds about playing for the Irish, with Mansfield (Texas) High four- star athlete Paulson Adebo being the most recent loss. Much of the talk about the class centers around the misses, the de- commits and the fact none of the players that made announcements during the two national all-star games — the Under Armour All- American Game and the U.S. Army All-American Bowl — picked the Irish. What is lost is just how much tal- ent still remains in the 2017 class, despite its low number. The Irish had 16 commits and a No. 13 national re- cruiting ranking from Rivals through Jan. 10, and every school ahead of Notre Dame had more commitments. Plus, multiple members of the class performed well at the all-star events. UNDER ARMOUR ALL-AMERICAN GAME Notre Dame had four committed players and a top prospect in the Under Armour game, and all five of those players had their standout moments. Cypress (Texas) Cy-Fair four-star tight end commit Brock Wright was the show stealer for Notre Dame all week in practice. Analysts from ev- ery network noted Wright's college- ready physique and his ability to handle himself in the run game. His work in the pass game was also impressive, and Wright led Team Highlight in receiving during the contest, hauling in two passes for 45 yards. He showed off the skills that make him Rivals' and ESPN's top- ranked tight end. Rivals national recruiting director Mike Farrell came away from the event impressed with the Texas tal- ent. "I'm a big fan of Brock Wright," Farrell said following the Under Armour game. "He's a tremendous safety valve, he's a guy that's going to be able to get down field, come back to the football, box out his op- ponent and catch the ball reliably." Farrell believes that Wright will soon become a favorite of Notre Dame's quarterbacks. "He's got good hands, he's pow- erfully built and he's a physical kid. He's going to be a good in-line blocker," Farrell continued. "I love this guy. I think he's going to have a really good career in college. I think he's going to be a quarterback's best friend." Wright was chosen as a team cap- tain for Team Highlight. Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy four-star offensive line commit Rob- ert Hainsey played left tackle the last two years in high school, but he spent time at right tackle and guard during the week of Under Armour practices. After a rough opening day, Hain- sey settled in for the Team Highlight line. He had impressive one-on- one victories against Lafayette (La.) Notre Dame five-star nose guard Ty- ler Shelvin. Hainsey impressed with his ability to physically match up against the 360-pound Shelvin. Rivals ranked Hainsey as the na- tion's 79th-best player, and Farrell saw those traits during practice. "He was dominant with his tech- nique," Farrell said. "He's a physical guy and very aggressive. You have to like his aggressiveness. You can't teach that. "That's important as an offensive lineman. You want a guy who wants to just knock you in the dirt, and that's what Hainsey does." Hainsey won the American Family Insurance Skills Challenge champi- onship by completing the obstacle course almost eight seconds faster than any other offensive lineman. Pittsburgh (Pa.) Central Catholic four-star linebacker commit David Adams only had one tackle in the game, but he had a solid week of practice. The 6-2, 225-pounder built his reputation as a strong run de- fender, and all-star games are not ideal for flashing those skills. Adams was still able to impress his coaches with his athleticism and coverage ability. "He's a really smart football player, really instinctive with a high football IQ," said Bellville (Mich.) High head coach Jermain Crowell, who coached linebackers for Team Armour. "He plays downhill, he's good in pass coverage and he's a good communi- cator. I like him. "He can run a little bit better than it appears. I think the fact that he has a high football IQ, he's there before it happens." Cedar Hill (Texas) High quarter- back commit Avery Davis had an up- and-down week, showing flashes of brilliant play but also struggling with consistency. That performance car- ried over into the actual game, with Davis completing just three of his 12 pass attempts, but one was a 79-yard touchdown pass to East St. Louis (Ill.) High wide receiver Jeff Thomas. Davis, Adams and their Team Ar- National All-Star Games Recap Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy Rivals100 offen- sive lineman Robert Hainsey will add much needed versatility to the Irish offensive line and could provide depth across multiple positions. PHOTO COURTESY RIVALS.COM

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Blue and Gold Illustrated - February 2017