ADDISON, Ill. — Auston Robertson had the matchup to prove himself.
The 6-foot-5, 240-pound defensive end lined up across four-star offensive tackle recruit Ben Bredeson. Both players are considered among the best at their position in the Midwest and find themselves high on Notre Dame's 2016 recruiting board.
Robertson would walk away a clear winner in three consecutive reps against Bredeson in the final 1-on-1 pass rush group of the day at Nike's The Opening Regional in the Chicago area (footage below).
Robertson beat Bredeson twice inside before showing off his pure speed around the edge on the final play. The sequence, with players wearing shorts and shirts instead of bulky shoulder pads, provided a snapshot of the weapon Robertson can be in pursuit of the quarterback.
He fared well for a defensive end of any caliber — let alone one that played mostly wide receiver two seasons ago. Robertson was complimentary of Sunday's competition, specifically Bredeson.
“He was pretty good. Thus far, he's the best talent I've gone against,” Robertson said.
Both Rivals and 247Sports peg Robertson as a four-star prospect and the No. 9 weakside defensive end in the country. He's jockeying for the title of top 2016 recruit in Indiana.
An invite to The Opening Finals in July wasn't extended Robertson's way, but he should have cemented himself as one of the candidates to receive a bid in the coming months. If Robertson does compete in the finals, he plans to do so as a committed prospect.
With a top three of Michigan State, Notre Dame and Ohio State, Robertson is scheduled to announce his verbal commitment June 7 at the Redefining Athletic Standards Football Camp, the same camp at which Irish linebacker Jaylon Smith made public his pledge to Notre Dame.
The two Fort Wayne products keep in regular contact. Robertson, a junior at Wayne High School, also works with the AWP Sports Training group in Fort Wayne that helped Smith and former Irish tight end Tyler Eifert, defensive lineman Tony Springmann and wide receiver John Goodman before him.
“I text Jaylon all the time,” Robertson said. “He seems to like it up there. Jaylon shows a lot of the same qualities that I think I have.”
Robertson may get a chance to reunite with Smith soon. The defensive end has been invited to visit Notre Dame next weekend but needs to sort out a potential scheduling conflict before solidifying his plans.
His last visit to Notre Dame came in March, when he watched new defensive line coach Keith Gilmore closely for the first time.
“I like the way he coaches from what I saw of his coaching style,” Robertson said.
The two keep in touch on Twitter as he tries to develop another relationship with a Notre Dame coach in addition to recruiting coordinator Mike Elston, who has been recruiting Robertson from the start. Both Gilmore and Elston stopped by Wayne in the first week of the Irish coaches hitting the road for the evaluation period.
Defensive end remains a high position of need for the Irish despite the verbal commitment of 2016 recruit Julian Okwara.
The next month will be used by Robertson to settle his mind.
“It's going to come down to my relationship with the coaches,” Robertson said, “life after college and what the program can do for me.”
Four 2016 recruits received invites Sunday to The Opening Finals in July: 2016 Notre Dame wide receiver target Donnie Corley (Detroit), Penn State defensive back commit LaVert Hill (Detroit), defensive lineman Mike Panasiuk (Roselle, Ill.) and Minnesota linebacker commit Carter Coughlin (Eden Prairie, Minn.).
The recruits will spend July 7-10 competing against 162 of the top high school football players in the country at Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Ore.
The coaching staff at Sunday's camp selected MVPs for each position group. The following players received the honors: 2016 Michigan State quarterback commit Messiah DeWeaver (Huber Heights, Ohio), 2016 running back Isaac Collins (Maple Grove, Minn.), 2017 wide receiver K.J. Hamler (Orchard Lake, Mich), 2016 offensive lineman Jake Cerny (Traverse City, Mich.) 2016 linebacker Kyle Johnson (Jacksonville, Fla.), plus Hill and Panasiuk.