Notre Dame had more than 1/2 of this year’s recruiting class on display in San Antonio this weekend for the Army All American Bowl and here are some observations after watching the game and seeing random video clips throughout the week. All in all, the ND guys were very impressive.
- Dayne Crist, QB
Crist looked like a natural leader on the field and threw a very nice pass. He’s got a big league arm and a quick release. After watching him play in person earlier this year, the one knock Ihad on Crist was his accuracy and that was a bit evident on Saturday as well. Crist missed a couple open receivers, but overall, he turned in a fantastic performance. Crist was 5 of 12 for 113 yards with a 56 yard touchdown to fellow ND commit Michael Floyd. He showed he’s got all the tools to be a star quarterback for the Irish.
- Michael Floyd, WR
If there was a better wide receiver in the game, I didn’t see him. Floyd showed he can burn a corner one on one when he torched Michigan commit Boubacar Cissoko on the 56 yard touchdown. He also showed he can use his body to shield a defender in the end zone when he caught a jump ball from Andrew Luck for a score over fellow ND commit Robert Blanton. Floyd’s performance did nothing to quiet the internet chatter that he will start from day one at Notre Dame.
- John Goodman, WR
Goodman looked pretty skinny compared to the other wide receivers in the game, but he looked pretty good out there and ended up catching a fourth quarter touchdown pass over Gerrell Robinson after Robinson picked Arizona State over the Irish. The Samardzija comparisons are a bit premature right now because he doesn’t have the kind of size and strength that Jeff had, but he looks like he’ll be a pretty good receiver.
- Kyle Rudolph, TE
Rudolph didn’t see too much action in the passing game this weekend, but by all accounts he was pretty impressive throughout the week in practice. Rudolph will be the #3 tight end next year at least and appears ready to play.
- Lane Clelland, OL
Clelland will probably drop down in the recruiting rankings a bit after the game, because it showed that he is still a bit raw and needs some work in the weight room before he’s ready to play.
- Mike Golic Jr, OL
Golic was easily the smallest offensive lineman in the game, but he actually surprised me with how well he played despite the size disadvantage he was at. Golic looked like a very polished blocker already and looked pretty good at run blocking. He is going to need to spend a ton of time in the weight room, but if he makes Reuben Mendoza his best friend once he gets to Notre Dame, Golic is going to be much more than a “filler” recruit as many felt.
- Trevor Robinson, OL
Robinson got some rave reviews throughout the week, but didn’t quite live up to those reports in the game. Robinson was not by any means disappointing, but he did not dominate in the game as many reports had suggested he was doing all week in practice.
- Darius Flemming, DE/OLB
Flemming was playing defensive end in the 4-3 defense the East team was using and showed that he is quick off the line and can rush the quarterback pretty well. Flemming nearly had (and probably should have had) Luck sacked in the end zone for a safety. He was tough to block for the West OL whenever he was in the game and showed that he will most likely be able to come in and play next year. Brian Smith and Kerry Neal will likely cement the starting OLB positions in the spring, but I would expect we will be seeing Darius get snaps on passing downs next fall.
- Sean Cywnar, DT
Cywnar ended up recovering a botched snap by Crist in the first half and showed a good motor in the game. He reminded me of a much bigger Pat Kuntz during the game. He’s not the biggest or fastest guy, but he plays hard from snap until the whistle. With Cywnar enrolling early, it is conceivable that he will be worked into ND’s thin defensive line rotation next year.
- Brandon Newman, NT
No one player may have surprised people as much this week. By all accounts, Newman was much, much better than most people expected he would be in practice all week long. Newman showed that he is quick off the snap and can handle double teams. He will need to start working on his conditioning right away, however, as he showed up pretty out of shape. Still, Newman probably could not have surprised anyone anymore than he did this week. Newman could be able to take some snaps at NT next year if necessary.
- Anthony McDonald, LB
McDonald was playing in a 4-3 defense this weekend after playing a 3-4 in high school and looked a bit out of place at times. He over pursues a couple of running plays early, but he looked pretty athletic for an inside linebacker and his game should translate very well into Notre Dame’s 3-4 attack. He wasn’t among the most impressive linebackers in the game, but he was far from the least impressive either.
- Steve Filer, LB
Filer was adjusting to the 4-3 defense this week just like McDonald so its tough to judge his performance too much. He did make one nice stop on a run play in the game, but other than that, his name was not called that much. He already looks about as big as Mo Crum though which is encouraging considering our lack of size among the interior linebackers.
- Robert Blanton, CB/S
Blanton played safety in the game, but will be lining up as a corner once he gets to Notre Dame. Blanton looked great in run support and hit pretty well. He’ll need to add some size before he’s an every down type of player, but he raised some eyebrows this week. He did get beat by Floyd in the jump ball in the end zone primarily because Floyd just out positioned him and shielded him from the ball showing that Blanton will need some work on his technique as well.
- Jonas Gray, RB
Gray was slowed by injuries during the week and didn’t see a whole lot of action. He had a couple runs up the middle, but never really got into space to show his speed. He had 3 attempts for 8 yards in his limited action.