Blue and Gold Illustrated

February 2017

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

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Page 40 of 55 FEBRUARY 2017 41 FOOTBALL RECRUITING mour squad won the game by a 24-21 score. The top uncommitted player on the board for Notre Dame is Rich- mond (Va.) Benedictine four-star linebacker Ellis Brooks, who plans on visiting Notre Dame the weekend of Jan. 28. Brooks, Rivals' No. 9 inside linebacker nationally, was second on Team Highlight with six tackles in the game, and Farrell named him the "Silent Assassin" award winner following the game for dominating despite not getting much attention. Should Brooks end up signing with Notre Dame, it would give the Irish five players in the Under Armour game, the second most for the pro- gram in the 10-year history of the game. U.S. ARMY ALL-AMERICAN BOWL The Fighting Irish have had 97 former players participate in this game, now in its 15th year, but Notre Dame's two committed players in this year's contest are its fewest since 2005 when just one commit played in the game. Wexford (Pa.) North Allegheny of- fensive tackle Joshua Lugg is one of the most hotly debated prospects in the class for Notre Dame. Scout ranks Lugg as the nation's No. 140 overall player and ranks him as the No. 160 player, but Lugg is un- ranked by The four-star offensive tackle shined in practice. After two of the three practice days open to the media, Lugg was named one of the 12 prac- tice standouts. He showed off impressive athleti- cism throughout the week of practice, something that was not always evi- dent on his high school film. Despite a lack of experience in pass protec- tion, Lugg displayed good footwork, technique and instincts against some of the nation's top pass rushers. Whether it was speed rushes off the edge or athletic double moves to the inside, Lugg was able to use good angles and his length to handle rush after rush. His strong play carried over into the game, where Lugg started at right tackle and was constantly matched up against Redlands (Calif.) East Valley five-star end Jaelen Phillips and Tulsa (Okla.) Memorial four-star edge player Isaiah Thomas. Phillips is ranked as the No. 18 player in the country and Thomas is No. 209, but neither had any success against Lugg. His length and quickness were too much for the West pass rushers, and his strong play helped the victorious East team outgain the West 316 to 144 yards in its 27-17 victory. Rivals picked Lugg as one of the top dozen performers for the week of practices and the game, and gave him its "Bull Market" award for the prospect who had raised his stock the most during the week. "The Notre Dame commit has cer- tainly taken steps to improve since last offseason when we saw him, and displayed an excellent level of athleti- cism for the position," wrote the site. Lugg's teammate throughout the week was Arlington Heights (Ill.) St. Viator four-star tight end Cole Kmet. The 6-foot-5 Kmet made his living catching the football during his ca- reer with the Lions, but it was his run blocking that earned him constant accolades during the week of practice leading up to the game. Indianapolis (Ind.) Ben Davis head coach Mike Kirshner was the head coach for the East squad, and Kir- shner was impressed with Kmet's toughness and intelligence in prac- tice. "He's very smart and very savvy about the game of football," Kirshner said. "He understands the type of things I'm sure any tight end is going to be called to do. "You've got to be a hybrid guy, you've got to be able to put your hand on the ground and block, you've got to be able to move inside sometimes and become a fullback, sometimes be- come a slot. His length and strength to be able to get himself away from man coverage is impressive. I think that will serve him well." ✦ Notre Dame commitments Cole Kmet (left) and Joshua Lugg participated in the Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio. The two Irish representatives marked the fewest for the program since 2005. PHOTO BY BRYAN DRISKELL

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