Blue and Gold Illustrated

February 2018

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

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Page 30 of 47 FEBRUARY 2018 31 FOOTBALL RECRUITING BY BRYAN DRISKELL N otre Dame signed 21 student- athletes in college football's first-ever early signing period Dec. 20-22. It is a balanced class that Rivals ranked as the na- tion's No. 6 haul as of Jan. 2. Five signees ranked in the Rivals100 and nine were in the Rivals250. Ten signees in the class earned five- star upside grades on the Blue & Gold Illustrated Big Board. In comparison, the 2017 class had just two five-star upside players and the 2016 class had seven such players. Below is a breakdown — by po- sition, starting at quarterback — of each signee and what they bring to the roster. PHIL JURKOVEC • QB • 6-5, 204 Pittsburgh • Pine-Richland H.S. Jurkovec is a brilliant dual-threat quarterback who passed for 3,969 yards and 39 touch- downs as a senior, while adding 1,211 yards and another 24 touchdowns on the ground to lead Pine-Richland to a 16-0 record and its first-ever state championship. During his senior sea- son he showed improved mechanics and accuracy, which complemented his dynamic playmaking ability. In an ideal situation, Jurkovec would redshirt as freshman, learn the offense and compete for the starting spot in 2019. However, if the quarter- back play doesn't improve in 2018, the Irish coaches might be forced to get the ultra-talented Jurkovec ready to play. Jurkovec earned a five-star grade on the BGI Big Board, and Rivals ranks him as the No. 55 overall player in the country. JAHMIR SMITH • RB • 5-10, 198 Sanford, N.C. • Lee County H.S. Smith produced well beyond his consensus three-star status, rushing for 3,858 yards and 67 touchdowns the last two seasons. He lacks breakaway speed, but he makes up for it with nimble footwork, good agility and strong sec- ond-level anticipation. His vision and feel for the game are impres- sive, and he has always been light on his feet for a bigger back. During his senior campaign, Smith was able to get downhill quicker, making him an improved runner. It also made him an ideal fit in the Notre Dame offense, which wants backs such as Josh Adams that can pound defenses between the tackles. KEVIN AUSTIN • WR • 6-2, 197 Fort Lauderdale, Fla. • North Broward Prep When watching Austin it is im- possible not to be re- minded of former Irish star Michael Floyd, who finished his career as Notre Dame's all-time leading receiver. Austin is a powerful player that is hard to bring down in space. He shows excellent balance and is an explosive athlete, traits that make him dynamic with the ball in his hands. His ability to track the ball is im- pressive, and he competes hard for the football. Austin can beat teams over the top, he can outplay defend- ers for the ball and he's productive after the catch. Those traits will give him a chance to push for early play- ing time. Austin was ranked as the No. 81 overall player in the country by Ri- vals and was listed No. 83 by ESPN. MICAH JONES • WR • 6-5, 202 Gurnee, Ill. • Warren Township H.S. Jones earned Illinois Player of the Year hon- ors from The Chicago Tribune after hauling in 53 passes for 710 yards and 12 touchdowns as a senior. He has outstand- ing size with top-notch ball skills. He is adept at high-pointing the football and competing hard for the ball. Jones isn't a burner, but at 6-5 with incredibly long arms and wing span he doesn't have to be. He knows how to get open, he positions himself well and he plays to his strengths. He can make plays all over the field, but he's especially effective in the red zone. Rivals ranked Jones as the nation's No. 179 overall player. BRADEN LENZY • WR • 6-0, 175 Tigard, Ore. • Tigard H.S. Lenzy is one of the most dynamic players in the country, possessing elite speed and a strong all-around athletic skill set. He is a bit undersized, but he's tough and plays bigger than his size. He uses his speed and quickness to gain excellent separation as a route runner. The Tigard star is a game changer after the catch, something Notre Dame currently lacks at the position. Lenzy is a confident pass catcher who tracks the ball well and has a knack for finding openings in the defense. He needs refinement from a technique standpoint, but once that comes his game is going to explode. 247Sports ranks Lenzy as the na- tion's No. 144 overall player. GEORGE TAKACS • TE • 6-6, 244 Naples, Fla. • Gulf Coast H.S. Takacs is a throwback tight end with good athleticism for his excellent size and a good feel for mak- ing plays in the pass game. He competes as a blocker, driving his feet well and using his strength to get the job done. The Gulf Coast standout posted a 4.87 in the 40-yard dash and leaped 33.3 inches at the Nike Football The Opening Regional in Miami, impres- sive numbers for his size. Takacs demonstrates good ball skills, mostly working the under- IMMEDIATE IMPACT Notre Dame's 2018 early 0signees will provide depth and playmaking ability right away

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