Under Armour All-America practice notes 12-28
KISSIMMEE, Fla. — The sun was shining on the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex on Wednesday for day one of practice for the Under Armour All-America Game. Of course it was.
Getting a chance to escape the wintry slumber of South Bend for some Florida sunshine is always welcomed by this intrepid reporter. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.
Temperatures hit the low 80s, which will likely be the hottest day of the week. Players from cooler climates were forced to adjust on the fly. The staff made sure to give plenty of breaks for hydration for the players.
The first practice day at events like this usually involve a lot of organization, installation and a feeling out process for the players and coaches. It’s also a chance for us reporters to size up the recruits. I’ve seen four of the five Notre Dame commits competing in the game in person previously, but it’s nice to get a chance to see them again and gauge their progress.
The Notre Dame commit I was most interested in sizing up was linebacker David Adams. I first saw Adams play in November of 2015 when Notre Dame sent five coaches to a Pittsburgh Central Catholic game while in town to play the University of Pittsburgh.
My main focus was on 2016 cornerback Damar Hamlin that day, but Adams was already a 2017 linebacker target receiving attention from the Irish. When I left that game, a blowout win for Pittsburgh Central Catholic, I wasn’t blown away by the physical stature of Adams. He was certainly productive, but I expected to be more impressed by the build of one of the top inside linebackers in the 2017 class.
Those worries were lessened on Wednesday. Adams still might be shorter than the 6-foot-2 he’s listed at, but he fit in physically with the rest of the linebackers on Team Armour. Adams might not have the athleticism of Alabama linebacker commit Dylan Moses, but he looks like he belongs on the same field as him.
Linebackers are a tough position to judge at all-star events with no tackling in practice, but Adams made a solid impression on day one.
Speaking of impressions, I’ve decided that Florida State defensive end commit Joshua Kaindoh is the most physically impressive recruit in pads I’ve seen in person during my five years in the business. Not necessarily the best player, but he definitely the guy you want leading your team off the bus. The 6-foot-6, 256-pound Kaindoh is a sight to see. There’s no doubt why he’s been rated by Rivals as a five-star recruit with such a high ceiling.
Offensive line commit Robert Hainsey help set the tone early for Team Highlight. In the first rep of the inside run drill against his team’s defense, Hainsey cleared a hole for his running back and received praise from one of the coaches.
“Thatta way, Notre Dame!” the coach yelled.
It was just the beginning of an active day for Hainsey, who didn’t shy away from any opportunities. He lined up at guard and tackle on both sides of the line throughout practice. My guess is he’ll play guard come Sunday.
His best effort in the one-on-one pass protection segment came against Phidarian Mathis (below). Hainsey also split a pair of reps against Kaindoh, his teammate at IMG Academy. Kaindoh beat Hainsey around the edge with a speed rush on the first rep. Hainsey held strong inside on the second rep.
#NotreDame OL commit Robert Hainsey (@RH56__) stoning Phidarian Mathis. pic.twitter.com/lMHGcb6QXG
— Tyler James (@TJamesNDI) December 28, 2016
And apparently, Hainsey got a fresh hair cut upon arrival Tuesday.
Irish commits Avery Davis and Paulson Adebo have played against each other on Texas high school football fields, but the two will combine on the Team Armour offense. Adebo, who has been recruited as a cornerback by Notre Dame, is playing wide receiver. Davis, at quarterback, hit Adebo for a touchdown against some busted coverage. I spoke with Adebo after practice about playing the position and the strength of his commitment ($).
I didn’t catch much of tight end commit Brock Wright, but I plan to later in the week. I have little doubt that Wright’s one of the best tight ends in the 2017 class, and probably the best blocker at the position. He’s been impressing me since the Irish Invasion in 2015.
We’ll see what Thursday has in store for Notre Dame’s commits. Maybe more skywriting messages?
Does this qualify as a #NotreDame recruiting pitch? pic.twitter.com/wO3So7Fz9M
— Tyler James (@TJamesNDI) December 28, 2016
We won’t be allowed to provide video from Thursday’s practice as it will be televised later in the day on ESPNU from 4-7 p.m. EST.
*All photos courtesy of Intersport.