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Notre Dame Football Recruiting: Players to Watch in High School All-Star Games

Keith ArnoldNotre Dame Lead WriterJanuary 1, 2014

Notre Dame Football Recruiting: Players to Watch in High School All-Star Games

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    247sports.com

    With the college football season winding down, recruiting is heating up. Over the next few days, high school all-star games will showcase the stars of tomorrow, and feature a ton of talent that'll be playing in South Bend. 

    Notre Dame sits at 22 official commitments with nine recruits participating in high school football's two biggest all-star games. The Irish are also in the mix for a handful of undecided players as well.

    Let's get you up to speed on the Notre Dame prospects you should be keeping an eye on. 

     

    Game: Under Armour All-America Game

    Date: Thursday, January 2, 2014

    Time: 4 p.m. ET

    Place: Tropicana Field (St. Petersburg, Fla.)

    Television: ESPN

     

    Game: US Army All-American Bowl

    Date: Saturday, January 4, 2014

    Time: 1 p.m. ET

    Place: Alamodome (San Antonio)

    Television: NBC

     

    All recruiting information comes from 247Sports unless otherwise noted.

Alex Bars, 4-Star Offensive Tackle, Commitment

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    247sports.com

    Committed to Notre Dame

    Under Armour All-America Game: Jan. 2, 4 p.m. ET, ESPN

     

    Skinny: One of the elite offensive tackles in the country, Alex Bars is another national recruit who decided to head to South Bend. Bars' brother currently plays at Michigan, but that didn't stop him from committing to the Irish. 

    He projects as a true left-tackle candidate for the Irish. He's looked good in practices this week, playing up to his national reputation.

Corey Holmes, 4-Star WR, Committed

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    247sports.com

    Committed to Notre Dame

    Under Armour All-America Game: Jan. 2, 4 p.m. ET, ESPN

     

    Skinny: Notre Dame went back into Florida powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas to land Corey Holmes, a lanky speedster who reminds some of TJ Jones. While nagging injuries have slowed Holmes down this season, he's impressed during all-star-game practices and should walk into South Bend and compete. 

    A deep threat with highly developed skills, Holmes is one to watch. 

Tyler Luatua, 4-Star TE, Committed

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    247sports.com

    Committed to Notre Dame

    Under Armour All-America Game: Jan. 2, 4 p.m. ET, ESPN

     

    Skinny: Notre Dame beat out Alabama for Tyler Luatua's services, receiving the talented tight ends' pledge in early December. But Luatua's most recent comments (subscription required) to 247 Sports' Tom Loy indicate that while he's committed, he's not necessarily a done deal.

    Expect him to continue to listen to Alabama, USC and UCLA, with the Crimson Tide holding a valuable chip in Tyler's brother Isaac playing for Nick Saban. But the Irish's track record developing tight ends is second-to-none, and Mike Denbrock has done a great job recruiting this Southern California prospect.  

Isaiah McKenzie, 3-Star WR, Commitment

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    247sports.com

    Committed to Notre Dame*

    Under Armour All-America Game: Jan. 2, 4 p.m. ET, ESPN

     

    Skinny: If the asterisk exists, it's because Isaiah McKenzie lists himself as a commitment to Notre Dame but openly acknowledges that he has some academic work to do before he's officially accepted. He's continuing to take the SAT in hopes of landing a qualifying score, and if he does that, the Irish will get an electric return man and slot receiver whom they haven't had since Brian Kelly arrived. 

    McKenzie has had his highlights make SportsCenter, but his personal story tops even his best highlight. And if his attitude on clearing the academic hurdles to attend Notre Dame is any indication, he'll be a great representative on and off the field.  

    "They gave me an opportunity to go to their school," McKenzie told IrishIllustrated.com. "They gave me an offer. What I wanted to do is take that offer and run with it. I really liked Notre Dame when I went to go visit. Everything was family oriented. The scenery was awesome. I stuck with it because it’s what I wanna do."

Sam Mustipher, 4-Star OG, Commitment

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    247sports.com

    Committed to Notre Dame

    Under Armour All-America Game: Jan. 2, 4 p.m. ET, ESPN

     

    Skinny: Another elite offensive-line prospect, Sam Mustipher projects to play on the interior of the offensive line for Harry Hiestand. With offers from Alabama, Ohio State, Michigan and other elite programs, Mustiper pledged to the Irish after unofficially visiting South Bend, Columbus and Ann Arbor. 

    He's a top-shelf interior-line prospect who will add to the impressive depth chart the Irish are amassing.

Quenton Nelson, 4-Star OT, Committed

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    247sports.com

    Committed to Notre Dame

    U.S. Army All-American Bowl: Jan. 4, 1 p.m. ET, NBC

     

    Skinny: If Bars is one of the elite left tackles at the Under Armour game, Quenton Nelson has solidified that reputation at the Army bowl game with a dominating week of practice. Nelson is another player who has the potential to play early in South Bend, helping the Irish stockpile talent at tackle after the depth chart got precariously thin. 

    A candidate for a fifth star if he plays well this week, Nelson reminds some of Steve Elmer, a guy who ended up starting as a freshman for the Irish. 

Andrew Trumbetti, 4-Star DE, Commitment

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    247sports.com

    Committed to Notre Dame

    Under Armour All-America Game: Jan. 2, 4 p.m. ET, ESPN

     

    Skinny: Nobody is quite sure what position Andrew Trumbetti will play when he gets to Notre Dame. But after seeing him perform in Orlando, it looks like the Irish will be getting a terror no matter where he plays. Trumbetti won the lineman skills competition, an indication of his athleticism and speed. 

    Trumbetti is enrolling early, starting school in a few weeks and beginning winter conditioning workouts with the team. The Irish can use another body in the front seven and an edge-rusher like Trumbetti might see the field sooner than later.

Nick Watkins, 4-Star CB, Commitment

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    247Sports.com

    Committed to Notre Dame

    Under Armour All-America Game: Jan. 2, 4 p.m. ET, ESPN

     

    Skinny: Watkins committed to Notre Dame in June, giving the Irish another intriguing cornerback prospect after landing a nice group in last year's recruiting cycle. Long, lanky and athletic, Nick Watkins is getting his first taste of the national recruiting scene after being one of the premiere players in Dallas. 

    The perfect cornerback recruit for Brian Kelly, Watkins will try and step into Bennett Jackson's spot.

Nic Weishar, 4-Star TE, Commitment

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    247Sports.com

    Committed to Notre Dame

    U.S. Army All-American Bowl Jan. 4, 1 p.m. ET, NBC

     

    Skinny: Nic Weishar plays like a Tyler Eifert clone, with the 6'5", 235-pounder looking fluid and smooth as a wide receiver. While he has some growing into his body to do, Weishar is drawing solid reviews for his work on the East squad in San Antonio, one of the best tight ends on the all-star circuit. 

    With a crowded depth chart in front of him and Tyler Luatua coming in at the same time, there's no rush to get Weishar on the field. But it looks as though tight ends coach Scott Booker has another talented player coming into his stable.

Richard Yeargin III, 4-Star LB, Commitment

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    247Sports.com

    Committed to Notre Dame

    U.S. Army All-American Bowl: Jan. 4, 1 p.m. ET, NBC

     

    Skinny: Richard Yeargin III was a key early commitment to an Irish coaching staff that needs to restock the linebacker position. The Fort Lauderdale product brings great versatility with him to South Bend, athletic enough to play in space or rush the passer but large enough to slide inside and help fill Dan Fox and Carlo Calabrese's shoes. 

    Clemson is giving chase after this talented athlete, but Yeargin seems committed to the Irish. He's been helping by working on Nyles Morgan with Irish commits Nelson and Weishar.

Nyles Morgan, 4-Star LB, Uncommitted

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    247sports.com

    Uncommitted 

    U.S. Army All-American Bowl: Jan. 4, 1 p.m. ET, NBC

     

    Skinny: Nyles Morgan is scheduled to announce his decision during the game, and according to 247 Sports' crystal ball the 4-star linebacker is Notre Dame's to lose. That the Irish coaching staff find themselves in this position is a credit to a relentless pursuit of the inside linebacker. 

    247Sports has Morgan as the No. 3 inside linebacker in the country. If the Irish land the Chicagoland product, they'll be bringing in an elite player at a position of need. 

    Helping in Morgan's recruitment is freshman linebacker Jaylon Smith. He and Morgan have grown friendly throughout the process, and Morgan talked about the two making a strong combination at linebacker for the Irish to Steve Wiltfong of 247 Sports. 

Braden Smith, 4-Star OT, Uncommitted

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    247Sports.com

    Uncommitted

    Under Armour All-America Game: Jan. 2, 4 p.m. ET, ESPN

     

    Skinny: The Irish are still in the running for Braden Smith, who announced he's down to four schools with Notre Dame among them. According to the South Bend Tribune's Tyler James, Smith will take an official visit the weekend of January 17. 

    Adding Smith to the recruiting class would be the cherry on top of an already elite offensive line class. One of the physical freaks of the current recruiting cycle, the 6'6", 290-pounder has been lining up next to Alex Bars at left guard during bowl practices, giving Irish fans a potential taste of the future. 

    Smith is the last offensive lineman the Irish are chasing. 

John "JuJu" Smith, 5-Star Athlete, Uncommitted

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    247sports.com

    Uncommitted

    Under Armour All-America Game: Jan. 2, 4 p.m. ET, ESPN

     

    Skinny: One of the elite athletes in the country, John "JuJu" Smith projects as a safety for the Irish but could play on either side of the ball and make an impact. The Irish are hanging in there with Smith but need to battle USC, Alabama, UCLA, Oregon and Ohio State for his signature. 

    Smith took an official visit to South Bend the same weekend as Tyler Luatua did, and the two are friends. But Smith's also got a family connection at USC with his uncle on the coaching staff. The Long Beach Poly product might be hard to pull away from the Trojans. 

    Steve Sarkisian has already made his sales pitch to Smith. Expect Brian Kelly to do the same. 

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