Notebook: Notre Dame CB commit Paulson Adebo showing versatility, potential

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Trying to locate Notre Dame cornerback commit Paulson Adebo during Sunday’s Under Armour All-America Game might be a little challenging for the unprepared.

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

First, you likely won’t find Adebo playing cornerback at all. Despite being recruited by the Irish as a defensive back, Adebo will line up at wide receiver all week for Team Armour.

And if you’re looking for Adebo on the Team Armour roster, you’ll find the 6-foot, 180-pound senior from Mansfield (Texas) High listed as Saiid Adebo. It’s his given name, but he prefers to be called Paulson, his middle name.

With that settled, onto the less confusing details. Like why he’s an All-American and became a top priority for Notre Dame long ago.

Adebo brings versatility to the football field — hence his ability to play wide receiver at an All-American game when he's a projected college cornerback. He could even wind up playing safety at Notre Dame. Just put him on the field and let him figure it out.

“I think I did pretty well,” Adebo said following the first day of practice at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. “It’s rough on the first day, but I think I was as good as I can be having sat out of football for a while. Just getting back into the feel of things.”

Wide receiver isn’t foreign to Adebo. Even though he missed multiple games this past season with a sprained knee and bruised shoulder, Adebo still led Mansfield in receptions (25) and receiving yards (494). Adebo did the same as a junior with 41 catches for 730 yards and 11 touchdowns in a run-heavy offense.

On one play during seven-on-seven action on Wednesday, Adebo sprang loose from coverage for a wide-open touchdown reception from Notre Dame quarterback commit Avery Davis. The two are joined by three other Irish pledges as Under Armour All-Americans: tight end Brock Wright, offensive lineman Robert Hainsey and linebacker David Adams. They will all return to the practice field on Thursday, which will be aired on a six-hour delay from 4-7 p.m. EST on ESPNU.

Next fall, Adebo will likely line up trying to prevent Davis from completing passes in practice at Notre Dame. Will he take any mental notes from this week to use at his advantage?

“No sir,” Adebo said with a smile. “I’m just trying to win this game and compete out here.”

Since committing to Notre Dame in June, Adebo has stayed true to his word. In the middle of Notre Dame’s 4-8 season, teams started reaching out to Adebo. His responses curtailed the pursuit.

Even the Texas coaching staff has yet to reach out to Adebo since Tom Herman took over as head coach of the program.

“Teams have bad seasons, but the thing that drew me to Notre Dame, it wasn’t necessarily the records or anything,” Adebo said of sticking to his pledge. “It was just the potential to be a good football team and to have a great academic degree.”

After he finishes the week at wide receiver, Adebo said he’s ready to learn from Notre Dame defensive backs coach Todd Lyght. The experience as a college and NFL player attracted Adebo to Lyght.

Adebo appears to have the pedigree to be a successful cornerback. Both Rivals and 247Sports peg Adebo as a four-star cornerback. 247Sports slates him 27th at the position. Rivals ranks him No. 30.

All three freshman cornerbacks played for Notre Dame last season. Adebo could be next in line.

“I feel like I can come in and make a contribution,” Adebo said. “Just come in with a great work ethic and be ready to work.”

LB eyes visit

Ellis Brooks reported a scholarship offer from Notre Dame last February, but his name as a target faded with the Irish landing three commitments from linebackers.

But now that four-star linebacker Pete Werner has left Notre Dame’s class for Ohio State, the Irish are once again pursing Brooks. The 6-foot-2, 230-pound linebacker said Notre Dame linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator Mike Elston has been in touch with him since Werner’s move.

Now Brooks, a senior at Richmond (Va.) Benedictine, wants to visit Notre Dame. He said he plans to make official visits to Northwestern, Oregon and Notre Dame, with the Irish likely to host him the weekend of Jan. 28. Brooks already has visited Maryland and is leaving his fifth official visit up for grabs. He reported an Ole Miss offer following Wednesday’s Under Armour All-America Game practice.

“It’s a highly academic school with good football,” Brooks said of his renewed interest in Notre Dame. “I’m pretty sure they’re just having a down year. They’ll get back to Notre Dame football pretty soon. You gotta go see Notre Dame. Notre Dame is Notre Dame.”

Rivals ranks Brooks, who maintained a commitment to Duke from March to May, as a four-star recruit and the No. 9 inside linebacker in the 2017 class. 247Sports slates him as a three-star recruit and the No. 25 inside linebacker.

Recent offers

Notre Dame expanded its 2017 offer list by two last week. A pair of recruits reported offers from the Irish on Dec. 21.

• ATH Connor Wedington, 6-0, 189; Sumner (Wash) High: Not long after Wedington backed away from his commitment to Washington, more schools came calling for the versatile athlete. UCLA, Oregon State, Baylor and Notre Dame have extended offers to Wedington since Dec. 9.

Wedington, who had been committed to Washington for 10 months, changed his mind after reportedly being courted by Stanford. When Wedington announced his switch with Washington, he wrote in a statement on Twitter that he had “recently been provided an opportunity that was too hard to pass up.”

Wedington could play a number of positions in college, but was most productive as a running back in high school. As a senior, Wedington rushed for 1,460 yards and scored 19 rushing touchdown. He added 275 receiving yards, three receiving touchdowns and two return touchdowns. He also intercepted two passes.

Rivals ranks Wedington as a four-star recruit and the No. 11 running back in the 2017 class. 247Sports slates him as a three-star prospect and the No. 21 athlete.

• WR Michael Smith, 6-2, 204; Vero Beach (Fla.) High: With the report of a Notre Dame offer, Smith can no longer be considered an under-the-radar recruit. But outside of the Irish, his offer list reflects his late rise as a college football prospect. Notre Dame joined a short list that includes Pittsburgh, Indiana, UConn, UMass and Florida International.

Smith’s scorching senior season of 67 catches for 1,561 yards and 24 touchdowns has earned him attention. He made quite the leap after recording only five catches as a junior behind a senior-heavy receiving corps including MJ McGriff, who joined Illinois as a freshman this past season.

Smith has yet to be ranked by 247Sports and does not yet have a Rivals profile.

tjames@ndinsider.com

574-235-6214

Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Notre Dame cornerback commit Paulson Adebo has been selected to play in the 2017 Under Armour All-America Game. (Photo courtesy of Intersport/Under Armour All-America Game)