Orlando Sentinel

Irish recruiting: Taking a look at the high school All-Star games

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Happy New Year, everybody.

While college football’s grandest day is upon us, two prep showcases are just around the corner. As you’d expect, Notre Dame commitments and recruiting targets will be on display. The rosters of the Under Armour All-America Game and the US Army All-American Bowl are filled with names that should be familiar to Irish fans.

Brian Kelly and his coaching staff are well on their way to putting together another elite recruiting class. It may lack the five-star prospects that last year’s cycle had in Jaylon Smith, Greg Bryant and Max Redfield, but the depth of this group should be its strength.

“As Notre Dame puts the finishing touches on another Top10 class, you have to like the balance with this group,” 247 Sports’ Steve Wiltfong told me. “The Irish are again landing difference makers in the trenches, with Andrew Trumbetti on defense and Alex Bars and Quenton Nelson on offense being three guys in those areas I like a lot.

“Coach Kelly and company are also bringing in more talent at the skill positions with Nic Weishar and Justin Brent two guys that will catch a ton of balls in South Bend and Nick Watkins adding to what is becoming a very talented secondary.”

Lets run through some names to watch in both games.

UNDER ARMOUR ALL-AMERICA GAME
January 2, 2014 — 4pm ET
ESPN

Notre Dame Commitments:

Alex Bars, OT — Will likely start at left tackle. Always a good sign.
Corey Holmes, WR — After an injury plagued season, Holmes opening eyes. Compares to TJ Jones.
Tyler Luatua, TE — A recruitment worth watching. Still listening to Alabama, USC and UCLA.
Isaiah McKenzie, WR — Still needs to clear some academic hoops, but working hard to do so.
Sam Mustipher, OG — Big bodied interior lineman will benefit from tough competition.
Andrew Trumbetti, DE/OLB — Has impressed this week with pass rush skills and relentless energy.
Nick Watkins, CB — Dallas athlete makes his debut on the recruiting circuit. Another good CB addition.

Irish Recruiting Targets:

Thomas Holley, DT — Does Bill O’Brien’s departure to the NFL get the Irish back in the mix?
Adoree Jackson, CB — One of the elite athletes in the country. Still a longshot.
Braden Smith, OL — Lining up next to Alex Bars at left guard this week. Would be a huge addition.
John “JuJu” Smith, S/WR — Might be tough to pry him from USC, but an elite athlete.

US ARMY ALL-AMERICAN BOWL
January 4, 2014 — 1pm ET
NBC

Notre Dame Commitments:

Quenton Nelson, OT — Starting LT that’s been impressive this week. Rivals has him a Top 25 player.
Nic Weishar, TE — Has opened some eyes this week with his elite ball skills.
Richard Yeargin III, OLB — Clemson is chasing, but Yeargin’s saying all the right things about Notre Dame.

Irish Recruiting Targets:

Matt Elam, DT — Just eliminated the Irish and was remarkably candid why.
Damien Mama, OL — Named a top four that didn’t include Notre Dame.
Nyles Morgan, ILB — Chicagoland prospect that Irish staff wouldn’t quit on. Could pledge to ND during game.
Nathan Starks, RB — One time target that might be a back burner option if ND wants a back.