Gunner Kiel

Irish recruiting targets getting five-star treatment

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If you’re looking for a way too early listing of five-star recruits, SI.com has an interesting list that includes quite a few Notre Dame targets, namely Arik Armstead, Dorial Green-Beckham, Andrus Peat, and Gunner Kiel, names we mentioned earlier in the week.

Here’s the rationale SI.com (with a special assist from 247Sports.com) gave for awarding these recruits five-star ratings:

Arik Armstead:

The towering athlete stands 6-foot-7 and weighs 280 pounds. He is far from maxed out physically, and he has incredible athleticism and explosiveness at that size. In fact, the one problem with comparing Armstead to the dominant tackles of past classes is that he could very well end up on the defensive side of the ball because of his rare versatility and athleticism.

Dorial Green-Beckham:

Green-Beckham is undoubtedly one of the top athletes in the country in any sport in the class of 2012. He is one of the nation’s top football players, too. He has tremendous strength as a receiver because of his advanced size and frame. He has the ability to run away from defenders because of his elite speed. He even has soft hands and route-running ability. He has accumulated more than 2,300 receiving yards in the last two seasons.

Andrus Peat:

For an offensive lineman, size is only the first part of the equation. Peat has that (6-6, 280), but what makes him special is the athleticism that accompanies his size. For a big kid, Peat is extremely athletic getting downfield and on the run. He has great feet in pass protection, and is light-footed at his size. He is also explosive at the point of attack, showing the strength to issue a punch and the mindset to finish a block. Peat has plenty of pedigree to his credit, as well. Father Todd Peat Sr. is a seven-year NFL veteran and brother Todd Peat Jr. was one of the top prospects in the class of 2011 and signed with Nebraska. It’s a strong statement, but Andrus may be the best of the Peat bunch.

Gunner Kiel:

In what is shaping up to be a fantastic year for quarterbacks, Kiel gets the first nod as the best of the bunch. With good size, a strong arm, a quick release and good accuracy, Kiel has all of the tools. But he also has the intangibles.

Kiel is a competitive, physical kid who can take a hit, deliver a hit and make plays with his feet if necessary. He exhibits the same kind of play-making ability that has been Andrew Luck’s signature over the past two seasons at Stanford. With elite quarterbacks like Zeke Pike, Jameis Winston, Connor Brewer and others in the class of 2012, Kiel will need all of those competitive juices to maintain the top spot.

The fact that the top quarterback in the country happens to live in Indiana and also has family ties to the Irish is a pretty good bit of luck for the Irish. As for guys like Armstead and Peat, their obvious ties to power programs USC and Nebraska might add a little bit more work for the Irish on the recruiting front, but there’s still over 11 months until next signing day.

 

Five Irish players sign UFA contracts

Matthias Farley
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Notre Dame had seven players selected in the 2016 NFL Draft, trailing only Ohio State, Clemson and UCLA on the weekend tally. But after the draft finished, the Irish had five more players get their shot at playing on Sundays.

Chris Brown signed with the Dallas Cowboys. Romeo Okwara will begin his career with the New York Giants. Matthias Farley and Amir Carlisle signed contracts with the Arizona Cardinal. Elijah Shumate agreed to a contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

After missing two seasons, Ishaq Williams will be at Giants rookie camp next weekend as well, working as a tryout player. Expect Jarrett Grace to receive similar opportunities.

Count me among those that thought both Brown and Okwara would hear their names called. Brown’s senior season, not to mention his intriguing measureables, had some projecting him as early as the fifth round.

Okwara, still 20 years old and fresh off leading Notre Dame in sacks in back-to-back seasons, intrigued a lot of teams with his ability to play both defensive end and outside linebacker. He’ll get a chance to make the Giants—the team didn’t draft a defensive end after selecting just one last year, and they’re in desperate need of pass rushers.

Both Shumate and Farley feel like contenders to earn a spot on rosters, both because of their versatility and special teams skills. Shumate played nickel back as a freshman and improved greatly at safety during 2015. Farley bounced around everywhere and was Notre Dame’s special teams captain.

Carlisle might fit a similar mold. He played running back, receiver and returned kicks and punts throughout his college career. With a 4.4 during Notre Dame’s Pro Day, he likely showed the Cardinals enough to take a shot, and now he’ll join an offense with Michael Floyd and Troy Niklas.

 

Robertson picks Cal over Notre Dame, UGA

Demetris Robertson
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Demetris Robertson‘s decision wasn’t trending in Notre Dame’s direction. But those that expected the Savannah star athlete to pick the in-state Bulldogs were in for a surprise when Robertson chose Cal on Sunday afternoon.

Notre Dame’s pursuit of the five-star athlete, recruited to play outside receiver and hopefully replace Will Fuller, likely ended Sunday afternoon with Robertson making the surprise decision to take his substantial talents to Berkeley. And give credit to Robertson for doing what he said all along—picking a school that’ll give him the chance to earn an exceptional education and likely contribute from Day One.

“I am excited to take my talents to the University of California, Berkeley. The first reason is that the education was a big part of my decision. I wanted to keep that foundation,” Robertson said, per CFT. “When I went there, it felt like home. Me and the coaching staff have a great relationship. That’s where I felt were the best of all things for me.”

Adding one final twist in all of this is that Robertson has no letter-of-intent to sign. Because he’s blown three months through Signing Day, Robertson merely enrolls at a college when the time comes. That means until then, Kirby Smart and the Georgia staff will continue to sell Robertson on staying home and helping the Dawgs rebuild. Smart visited with Robertson Saturday night and had multiple assistant coaches at his track meet this weekend.

Summer school begins in June for Notre Dame. Their freshman receiving class looks complete with early enrollee Kevin Stepherson and soon-to-arrive pass-catchers Javon McKinley and Chase Claypool.

Sheldon Day drafted in 4th round by Jaguars

North Carolina v Notre Dame
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Former Notre Dame captain Sheldon Day didn’t have to wait long on Saturday to hear his name called. The Indianapolis native, All-American, and the Irish’s two-time defensive lineman of the year was pick number 103, the fourth pick of the fourth round on Saturday afternoon.

Day was the seventh Irish player drafted, following first rounders Ronnie Stanley and Will Fuller, second round selections Jaylon Smith and Nick Martin, and third rounders KeiVarae Russell and C.J. Prosise.

Day has a chance to contribute as he joins the 24th-ranked defense in the league. Joining a draft class heavy on defensive players—Jalen Ramsey, Myles Jack and Yannick Ngakoue already picked ahead of him—the front seven will also include last year’s No. 3 overall pick Dante Fowler, who missed the entire season with a knee injury.

Scouted by the Jaguars at the Senior Bowl, Day doesn’t necessarily have the size to be a traditional defensive tackle. But under Gus Bradley’s attacking system (Bradley coordinated the Seahawks defense for four seasons), Day will find a niche and a role in a young defense that’s seen a heavy investment the past two years.

Smith, Martin, Russell and Prosise all drafted Friday night

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - SEPTEMBER 13: William Fuller #7 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Nick Martin #72 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrate a touchdown during the game against the Purdue Boilermakers at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 13, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
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Jaylon Smith, Nick Martin, KeiVarae Russell and C.J. Prosise were all selected on Friday, with four Irish teammates taken on the second night of the NFL Draft. As mentioned, Smith came off the board at pick 34, with the Cowboys gambling on the injured knee of the Butkus Award winner. Nick Martin was selected at pick 50, joining former teammate Will Fuller in Houston.

The third round saw Russell and Prosise come off the board, with Kansas City jumping on the confident cornerback and the Seahawks taking Notre Dame’s breakout running back. It capped off a huge night for the Irish with Sheldon Day, one of the more productive football players in college football, still on the board for teams to pick.

Here’s a smattering of instant reactions from the immediate aftermath.