Notre Dame recruits to take field today with some of nation’s best, if not all

Notre Dame football recruit Derrik Allen
Notre Dame football recruit George Takacs
Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly speaks to the media on National Signing Day last February at the Guglielmino Athletics Complex in South Bend. (By Tom Davis of
Notre Dame football assistant coach Brian Polian speaks to the media on National Signing Day last February at the Guglielmino Athletics Complex in South Bend. (By Tom Davis of
Notre Dame football recruit Jayson Ademilola
Notre Dame football recruit Phil Jurkovec
Notre Dame football recruit Shayne Simon

Over 100 of the nation’s best high school senior football players will gather today in San Antonio for the annual U.S. Army All-American Bowl (1 p.m., NBC). However, despite the level of scrutiny devoted to getting THE best players involved in this game, Notre Dame recruiting coordinator Brian Polian talked recently of slowing down in assessing and passing judgment on high school athletes.

“It’s amazing,” Polian said on National Signing Day last month, “everybody talks about how great the (recruiting) classes are. They put stars on them. Talk to me in 10 years. That is when you’ll know how good a class was, because there is always going to be a five-star (player) that never gets on the field and transfers three times, and then there is somebody you never heard of.”

The Fighting Irish coaches signed 21 players last month and are planning on securing written commitments from several more athletes next month on the second of two National Signing Days (Feb. 7). Five of those 21 Notre Dame prospects will be participating in today’s game, including George Takacs (tight end), Phil Jurkovec (quarterback), Jayson Ademilola (defensive line), Shayne Simon (linebacker), and Derrick Allen (safety).

A couple other Irish recruits, Jack Lamb (linebacker) and Houston Griffith (cornerback) participated in the Under Armor All-American Game Thursday in Orlando.

Polian pointed specifically to the 2017 Heisman Trophy winner, Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, who walked on not only at Texas Tech to begin his collegiate career, but later with the Sooners, after transferring to Oklahoma.

“In terms of meeting our needs,” Polian continued, “we felt confident that the places we needed to create competition quickly, we were able to identify guys that we think can do that. (But) Nobody really knows.”

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Polian doesn’t “really know” which recruits will eventually flourish with the Irish, but Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly does know that he has confidence in Allen’s ability to defend passes.

The Notre Dame safety prospect impressed the Irish coaches quickly with his ball skills.

“He was the first guy we saw that had the ability to cover man-to-man,” Kelly explained, “play the ball in the air and get the ball down on the ground with his size.”

“That was the trait that we had to have in this class. It was a must, must, must; it was underlined like five times.”

Allen played both ways for Lassiter High School in Marietta, Georgia, but had his senior year cut short after suffering a hand injury. However, he still played enough football to register 54 solo tackles and pick off three passes in eight games.

As a receiver, he caught 14 passes and scored four times.

Notre Dame signed players from 13 different states, but two of those players (Allen and tight end Tommy Tremble) were from Georgia.

Kelly explained that going into Georgia to find players shouldn’t surprise any one, regardless of the college program that is doing such.

“Everybody recruits in Georgia,” Kelly said. “There are players coming out of Georgia for Assumption College, my alma mater, that went to the (NCAA Division II) playoffs.”

“My point being is that it’s such a fertile ground in recruiting you just need to be in there and there are great football players in there. It’s just having a presence and getting back into a very, very good recruiting area for us. We need to have a great presence there.”

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