Notre Dame Football: Alex Bars

Brian Kelly spoke with reporters on national signing day for more than an hour. Here's a quick look at his thoughts on each of the 23 additions to the Irish roster:

Justin Brent (Speedway, Ind./Speedway): "When I got a chance to see him work out this morning, the first thing that stood out to me is that he does not look like a freshman. He had his shirt off this morning and he was running around, and he looks like a senior."

[+] EnlargeNotre Dame defensive end commit Andrew Trumbetti, the No. 2-ranked prospect in the state of New Jersey, shows off his Under Armour gear.
Courtesy of IntersportDE Andrew Trumbetti's athleticism -- he returned kicks in high school -- is just one of the things that impressed the Irish.
Andrew Trumbetti (Demarest, N.J./Northern Valley Region): "The thing that really put him over the top for us is when we were watching his film, he was returning kickoffs in high school, and not many times do you see a defensive lineman returning kickoffs."

Alex Bars (Nashville/Montgomery Bell Academy): "Dad played here, it's an easy leap; not so much. Sometimes you've got to work harder to get that young man to come to Notre Dame because he wants to go off on his own sometimes."

Grant Blankenship (The Colony, Texas/The Colony): "We got three players from Texas, all of them offered by the University of Texas. I don't know if that happens very often."

Jonathan Bonner (Chesterfield, Mo./Parkway Central): "When you talk about the right fit to Notre Dame, Jonathan possessed all of the right characteristics, academics, socially, and then as a football player."

Jimmy Byrne (Cleveland/Saint Ignatius): "Physical, moves his feet well, and again, I think what you'll see with all of our offensive linemen, they all can get out and move their feet. They all have the ability to run block, pass pro."

Daniel Cage (Cincinnati/Winton Woods):
"This guy is a ferocious player. He's an inside player, and we love the way he got off the ball. His strength, lower body strength, he's a guy that's going to play the shade, he can play the nose."

Jay Hayes (Brooklyn, N.Y./Poly Prep Country Day): "One of his quotes when I was with him was, ‘Coach, some of these guys don't get it. They don't really understand why you would come to Notre Dame.’ And he's such a thoughtful kid at his age that he understands why he would come to Notre Dame for all the right reasons, getting a degree and opening up doors for him for the rest of his life."

Kolin Hill (Schertz, Texas/Samuel Clemens): "A right fit for Notre Dame, character, high energy, yes, sir, no, sir, had all those things that we really liked. He was engaging. Really impressed our admissions people."

Corey Holmes (Fort Lauderdale, Fl./Saint Thomas Aquinas): "He has a lot of the same feelings in terms of where TJ Jones developed, but he's 6-2. This kid is longer. He's a bigger kid than TJ. But he's got a lot of those mannerisms and characteristics. "

DeShone Kizer (Toledo, Ohio/Central Catholic): "He's going to be able to do the multidimensional things that we love. Now we've got three quarterbacks on campus that all do the same things."

[+] EnlargeTyler Luatua
Tom Hauck for Student SportsTE Tyler Luatua made an impression on and off the field with Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly.
Tyler Luatua (La Mirada, Calif./La Mirada): "People said, ‘Well, he didn't talk enough. He wasn't engaging enough. I didn't hear enough from him.’ I said, ‘Well, you just don't know him well enough because when you get to know Tyler Luatua, he's just like Justin Utupo; you can't shut him up.’"

Greer Martini (Woodberry Forest, Va./Woodberry Forest School): "His leadership skills, his ability to recognize and really -- you have to have leaders. He's a really good player, and he's a really good leader, and he'll be a very good linebacker for us here at Notre Dame and will also be a guy that makes others around him better."

Peter Mokwuah (Staten Island, N.Y./St. Joseph-By-The-Sea): "We've had a great Nigerian connection here, Romeo Okwara, Prince Shembo, just to name a few, and then Pete was able to connect Catholic institution, goes to a Catholic school. That profile fit very well for us."

Nyles Morgan (Crete, Ill./Crete-Monee): "Every time I'm with him, he just wants to talk about football, and he's a good student, and his mom and dad want him to just talk about academics, and he's a good student and he recognizes the value of getting a degree at Notre Dame."

Sam Mustipher (Olney, Md./Our Lady of Good Counsel): "All these guys can be big and strong and physical, but if they can't move their feet, if they can't bend, if they can't get out of their stance and do a good job and moving and bending, then we're moving on, and I think -- I sound like a broken record with the offensive line, but those are the characteristics."

Quenton Nelson (Red Bank, N.J./Red Bank Catholic): "He's going to come after you play after play after play. And again, his desire to want to be great is what always stood out about Quenton is that he's always pushing himself. Every time we talk to him he's coming back from something."

Tyler Newsome (Carrollton, Ga./Carrollton): "He was such an intriguing young man in all the kids that we saw that when we saw him punting, there was nobody that was even close to with the potential upside that he has. "

Nile Sykes (Lombard, Ill./Montini Catholic): "We want people that want to be part of Notre Dame and be part of our family, and to bring Nile and his family in, he's a versatile player. He can play inside, he can play outside."

Drue Tranquill (Fort Wayne, Ind./Carroll): "People have asked does he play safety, does he play running back? I don't know where he plays, but he's going to play somewhere here at Notre Dame because he's a darned good football player."

Nick Watkins (Dallas/Bishop Dunne): "This is draft day, you're getting a No. 1 draft pick. This kid is an exceptional football player. We think we got one of the best corners around. Long, athletic, can really do a lot of things for us."

Nic Weishar (Chicago, Ill./Marist): "He's the finest pass catching tight end that we saw. You could argue about who it is, but we think he is. We love his ball skills, we love his ability to use his body to control defenders, has a knack of catching the football in the air and taking it away from people. "

Jhonny Williams (Berrien Springs, Mich./Berrien Springs): "There's no ceiling on Jhonny Williams' future. He's an engaging young man. He just recognizes that he's got a great opportunity at Notre Dame, and we're excited to provide him that opportunity."
The biggest surprise of the day was an early one, and a considerably positive one for Notre Dame, as Winton Woods (Ohio) High four-star defensive lineman Daniel Cage faxed in his national letter of intent to the Irish. Cage adds to a rather large haul across the defensive line for the Irish, who have announced 22 signatures so far, including nine ESPN 300 prospects (and including both of their January enrollees, Andrew Trumbetti and Justin Brent).

The other verbal commit? Probably not worth getting stressed over, as the biggest recruit of them all, Nyles Morgan, tweeted that he signed.

Coach Brian Kelly meets the media at noon ET, so we will have more then.

(* denotes ESPN 300 prospect)
Still waiting on …
  • Four-star ILB Nyles Morgan (Crete, Ill./Crete Monee)*

As expected, Day 2 at the Under Armour All-America practices were smoother, more concise and much more productive. The players are now starting to think less and play more. Natural ability is starting to come to the forefront, which allows for them to be more productive. There have been fewer dropped passes, fewer misses by the QBs and the offensive lines are starting to jell quicker than expected. Perhaps the most impressive thing about this group is there have not been any true letdowns. They have stepped up and been as advertised almost top to bottom for both squads. Let’s hit the highlights of the day:

Top performers

WR Cameron Sims (Monroe, La./Ouachita Parish): Sims might not wow anyone with his 40-yard dash time, but it may not matter. Sims is so similar to Mike Evans at Texas A&M. He just makes plays. He has extremely long arms and is outstanding when in contested matchups. The ball will look like it is uncatchable and then next thing you know he jumps out of nowhere, extends and makes a play and the defender is left scratching his head. When it comes down to it, the QBs for Team Highlight can trust that if they need to throw it up, Sims will make a play. The most basic thing about the position is catching the football and Sims has no problem doing that.


LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- One thing is for sure for all the 2014 Under Armour All-Americans: This isn’t high school anymore. Day 1 is about gauging the competition. Some guys dive right in and some test the waters with their big toe, but by the end of the first day of practice, all those in attendance have a pretty good idea of where they stand and what they need to do to compete and get better.

Given that it is Day 1, the playbook is introduced (Team Nitro is going no huddle with wrist bands and limited plays), and there can be sloppy moments of indecision and uncertainty. With each rep, most, if not all, prospects began to get a better feel for what is expected. Most importantly, the center-quarterback exchanges were very good for the most part, which is generally the biggest worry. Upon completion of the first practice, here are some observations and things to look for over the week:

Top Performers


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ESPN 300 TE Luatua picks Notre Dame

December, 16, 2013
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With four tight ends making significant contributions to NFL rosters, Notre Dame is doing everything it can to chase down Stanford as the present day Tight End U.

The Fighting Irish took another step toward that goal on Monday, grabbing a commitment from ESPN 300 tight end Tyler Luatua (La Mirada, Calif./La Mirada).

[+] EnlargeTyler Luatua
Tom Hauck for Student SportsTyler Luatua, the No. 1 tight end in the ESPN 300, is a big commitment for Notre Dame.
Luatua, the nation's No. 76 overall prospect and No. 1 recruit at his position, whittled his choices down to Alabama and Notre Dame, before announcing for the Fighting Irish on Twitter on Monday morning.

Early on in his recruitment, Luatua was split between Alabama -- the school where his older brother, Isaac, attends and plays football -- and USC -- the hometown favorite. But even before the Trojans faded in their recruitment of Luatua, Notre Dame made a significant impression and grabbed virtually all of his attention. He took an official visit to see the Fighting Irish beat the Trojans in mid-October, and though he also attended Alabama's big recruiting weekend in early November, it wasn't enough to unseat Notre Dame, which built a solid relationship with the 6-foot-3, 243-pound tight end and had been his leader for a significant amount of time.

Luatua's commitment doesn't only give Notre Dame a big-time player at a position in which they continue to build strength, it's also another outstanding California prospect making their way to South Bend, Ind. In the 2013 class, Notre Dame was able to swoop in and grab four-star safety Max Redfield away from several Pac-12 programs. In 2014, Luatua joins four-star defensive tackle Matt Dickerson (San Mateo, Calif./Junipero Serra), who held offers from Oregon, UCLA, USC and Washington.

He joins a tight end group that is getting a significant influx of talent. Four-star tight end Nic Weishar (Chicago/Marist) is part of the 2014 class, and four-stars Mike Heuerman and Durham Smythe signed with Notre Dame in the 2013 class.

Luatua is commitment No. 23 for Notre Dame. He is the eighth ESPN 300 prospect and the 15th four-star commitment. He is also the No. 2 prospect in the class, behind only offensive tackle Alex Bars (Nashville, Tenn./Montgomery Bell Academy), who is ranked No. 51.

UA Game jersey tour: Alex Bars

November, 12, 2013
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ESPN 300 offensive tackle Alex Bars (Nashville, Tenn./Montgomery Bell Academy) was presented his honorary game jersey for the 2014 Under Armour All-America High School Football Game during the American Family Insurance Selection Tour at Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville, Tenn., on Monday. The event was part of the three-month jersey tour for the UA game.

Bars, a Notre Dame commit, is one of 90 players who have been selected to compete in the seventh annual Under Armour All-America Game, a nationally televised competition spotlighting the country’s top high school seniors. The 2014 Under Armour All-America Game is set for 4 p.m. ET on Jan. 2 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., and will be televised on ESPN.

[+] EnlargeAlex Bars
Courtesy of IntersportNotre Dame offensive line commit Alex Bars is ranked as the No. 2 recruit in Tennessee.
“Thank you for selecting me as an Under Armour All-American,” Bars said. “I’m both honored and excited to be chosen. I would like to thank my classmates and the entire staff at MBA for their support. A special thanks to my coaches and my teammates -- y’all played an important role in helping me achieve my goals. I can’t imagine a better group of guys playing beside me. I would also like to thank my parents for the sacrifices and support, and providing me with everything I need to get here today. Lastly, when I wear this jersey in January, know that I will be representing not only myself but all of MBA."

Montgomery Bell Academy head coach Marty Euverard said Bars is a special player and an even better person.

“I would like to congratulate Alex and his mom and dad," Euverard said. "Hard work does pay off, and Alex is a special football player, but more than that I’ve just watched him over the last three years ... he’s just an incredible young man off the field. I’m really proud to coach him.”

For Bars, the chance to play on ESPN against the top players in the country put the Under Armour All-America Game over the top.

"It’s awesome (playing on ESPN). You can’t beat it," he said. "I can’t wait, it’s going to be really cool. I want to see how I play against the best. I’m going to be coached by NFL coaches, play against the best players, and should be real cool and a lot of fun.”

The 6-foot-6, 285-pound Bars is ranked the No. 51 overall prospect and No. 6 offensive tackle in the Class of 2014. He committed to Notre Dame over offers from Florida State, Georgia, Michigan, LSU and a host of others.

Two commits highlight big weekend

August, 5, 2013
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A quiet two weeks gave way to two busy days this past weekend, as Notre Dame hauled in a pair of four-star defensive prospects from different pockets of the country.

Outside linebacker Richard Yeargin III (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./University School of Nova South) and defensive tackle Matt Dickerson (San Mateo, Calif./Junipero Serra) committed to the Irish on Friday and Saturday, respectively, giving the program seven defensive pledges in the class of 2014.

Our Jared Shanker has a good breakdown of what these pick-ups mean for the Irish and their national reach, saying that their front-seven in this class could be as good as any in the country and that it is always a big get for Notre Dame when it can scoop up a premier player not far from USC's backyard.

"I just knew it was the school when I walked on campus," Dickerson, who visited Notre Dame on Friday, told Shanker. "I felt it in my heart."

Here's a look at Notre Dame's 17-man recruiting class from the class of 2014, which includes seven ESPN300 prospects (*).

Blankenship is No. 14 for ND

July, 8, 2013
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Everett Golson made most of the headlines during another holiday weekend by telling a local television station that he plans on returning to Notre Dame. He could have some company, then, in three-star defensive end Grant Blankenship (The Colony, Texas/The Colony).

Blankenship committed to the Irish on Friday, according to multiple reports, Insider giving the program its 14th recruit from the Class of 2014.

As the South Bend Tribune's Tyler James notes, news of the 6-foot-5, 230-pounder's commitment comes nearly one year to the day of the Irish's first commitment from this class.

Here is a list of all 14 Irish commitments from this class. ESPN150 members are designated with one asterisk (*), while ESPN300 members are designated with two (**).

Irish recruiting roundup

June, 19, 2013
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Where were we? Oh, yeah .
Notre Dame has moved up one spot to No. 7 in the latest ESPN class of 2014 recruiting rankings.

The Irish have jumped Florida, which fell four spots to No. 8. Notre Dame has steadily climbed throughout this cycle, currently boasting 10 commitments as it continues to bolster the offensive line.

This week, our Jared Shanker said the Irish's offensive line class has the potential to be the best in the nation, as the addition of ESPN 150 offensive tackle Alex Bars (Nashville, Tenn./Montgomery Bell Academy) last week gave Notre Dame four offensive line commitments, one year after landing five in the class of 2013. Three of the Irish's four current offensive line commitments are four-star prospects.

The top three classes from this cycle remain unchanged, as Michigan holds the top spot, with Texas coming in at No. 2 and LSU right behind the Longhorns at No. 3.

Texas A&M, Florida State and Tennessee round out the group currently ahead of Notre Dame, which finished fourth in the class of 2013 rankings. (That class included five-star defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes (Auburn, Calif./Placer), whose status remains up in the air).

Irish recruiting roundup

May, 22, 2013
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As we search for Eddie Vanderdoes' next move ...

Alex Bars is No. 10 for Irish

May, 17, 2013
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ESPN 150 offensive tackle Alex Bars (Nashville, Tenn./Montgomery Bell Academy) has a brother, Blake, at Michigan. He has another brother, Brad, at Penn State.

But he has decided to follow in his father Joe's footsteps, committing to Notre Dame on Friday. Bars ranks as the Irish’s 10th commitment.

Joe Bars played linebacker for the Irish.

“It was pretty great,” Bars said of telling his father the news. “I really appreciated him not pressuring me to go to his alma mater. I think he's pretty happy, though. He's excited for me."

To read Jared Shanker's full story, click here.

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