Irish recruits hit the All-Star circuit

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With National Signing Day still over a month away, there’s plenty that can happen as Brian Kelly prepares to make a slew of in-home visits. But before many recruits enroll early at their colleges of choice for the Spring semester, the annual All-Star game circuit takes place in the coming days.

With a contingent not as large as past years, the Irish still have a large group of recruits participating in the annual All-Star games. Here’s a quick run-down:

US ARMY ALL-AMERICAN BOWL (January 9th on NBC)

A game usually filled with Irish commitments and a Midwestern flavor isn’t especially packed with Notre Dame commits, but still filled with some intriguing prospects.

New signee Austin Collinsworth is joined on the East Roster by Notre Dame commits Christian Lombard and Blake Lueders. They’ll have time to lean on hot prospect Matt James, who is still considering the Irish, along with Ohio State and Cincinnati, and maybe even swing for the fences and see if they can get Chris Martin back into the fold for Notre Dame, although that train has probably long left the station. Other targets include undeclared California athlete Anthony Barr, Illinois wide receiver and current USC commit Kyle Prater, and still undeclared offensive lineman Seantrel Henderson from St. Paul, Minnesota, who recently added the USA Today Offensive Player of the Year award to his mantel.

ESPN UNDER-ARMOR ALL-AMERICAN BOWL (January 2nd on ESPN)

ESPN’s addition to the All-Star circuit, played in Orlando, also features some Irish commitments.

Highly touted wide receiver prospect Tai-ler Jones leads the way for the Irish in Orlando, where he is joined by defensive tackle Louis Nix. Recent de-commit Toney Hurd, Jr. is also participating at cornerback, and Hurd has been quiet about whether or not he’s still considering the Irish. Other Irish targets like undeclared California safety Dietrich Riley, California cornerback Joshua Shaw, who has verbally committed to Florida, and St. Thomas Aquinas corner Cody Riggs, who has also committed to the Gators. All three are players that coach Brian Kelly likely has an interest in.

OFFENSE-DEFENSE ALL-AMERICAN BOWL (January 2nd)

Played in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, the Offense-Defense Bowl will feature quarterback Andrew Hendrix, linebacker/defensive end recruit Prince Shembo, and defensive lineman Justin Utopo. Expect Brian Kelly to be keeping an eye on Illinois defensive back Corey Cooper as well, and North Carolina commit (and Cincinnati native) tight end Alex Smith, who was recruited by Kerry Coombs and Kelly for the Bearcats.