Evaluating Army Bowl performances for Notre Dame recruits
The end of a recruiting cycle provides one last opportunity to evaluate most of the top prospects in the country. Notre Dame had some of its best 2018 recruits on display in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
Even though the game on Saturday didn’t include many highlights for the five future Irish players, the week of practice beforehand offered a glimpse of their talent.
247Sports director of recruiting Steve Wiltfong was on site in San Antonio and shared with the Tribune his thoughts on the five Army All-Americans headed to Notre Dame.
• LB Shayne Simon, 6-3, 215; Jersey City (N.J.) St. Peter’s Prep: No Notre Dame signee impressed Wiltfong more than Simon last week. Where Simon lines up for the Irish will likely depend on what scheme the next defensive coordinator chooses. In former coordinator Mike Elko’s system, Simon fit perfectly at the rover position with a combination of safety and linebacker skills.
"He's the best player in Notre Dame's recruiting class,” Wiltfong said. “He's very quick. He changes direction well in space. He's physically ready to play. He's smart.
“In the old defense, I think he would have started at rover. I don't know what they'll do now. He can play safety. He can play linebacker. Down here, he was one of the better prospects at the Army Bowl."
Simon entered the week as a four-star recruit, the No. 11 outside linebacker and No. 130 overall in the 247Sports rankings. He appears to be in line for a sizable bump in the next rankings update.
• DT Jayson Ademilola; 6-3, 288; Jersey City (N.J.) St. Peter’s Prep: Ademilola entered the Army Bowl as the highest-ranked Notre Dame commit, according to 247Sports. As the No. 2 defensive tackle and No. 52 overall in the 2018 class, he had already done plenty to impress.
His strong performance at The Opening Finals last summer pushed him up the rankings. He showed flashes of that dominance once again last week.
"He's one of the quickest defensive linemen in the country,” Wiltfong said. “He showed that at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. He made plays in every practice. He made plays in the game. He's a guy that will push for time in year one at Notre Dame. Long-term, he's an upgrade for Notre Dame."
• QB Phil Jurkovec, 6-5, 204; Gibsonia (Pa.) Pine-Richland: The five snaps of action Jurkovec saw in the Army Bowl couldn’t have gone much worse. His two handoffs were the only plays not to end in failure.
Otherwise, Jurkovec slipped and fell for a loss of seven yards, was hit hard for a 15-yard loss on the next play and later threw an interception on his only throw of the game.
Jurkovec had an up-and-down week in practice, but that doesn’t change the bright outlook for his future. 247Sports slates him as the No. 5 dual-threat quarterback and No. 101 overall in the class.
"I still think that in Phil, Notre Dame's getting a kid that has a high ceiling,” Wiltfong said. “He's obviously a really good football player that put up big numbers in high school. He completed passes at a high percentage. He runs well. He didn't get a chance to showcase that in the game.
“If you look at him, he's nowhere close to being filled out. He's 6-foot-5, over 200 pounds. He has the poise. He has the intangibles. He's going to have to put some work in to fine-tune his mechanics so he can consistently be accurate with the football against a faster speed of the game."
• S Derrik Allen, 6-2, 215; Marietta (Ga.) Lassiter: The four-star recruit said during the week that he hoped to prove that he can play safety in college. Allen might not have convinced everyone last week.
"Long-term, I think he's a linebacker,” Wiltfong said. “He would be a linebacker that brings coverage ability. He's a smart player. He's around the football. He should be a mismatch eraser as a linebacker being able to cover some running backs and tight ends."
Allen likely wasn’t performing at a peak level. His senior season was cut short in order to have surgery on his left pinky, and he only recently received clearance before heading to San Antonio.
247Sports slates Allen as the No. 10 safety and No. 135 overall in the 2018 class.
• TE George Takacs, 6-6, 235; Naples (Fla.) Gulf Coast: It’s not easy for a tight end to flash in an all-star event. For a player like Takacs, it’s even harder. There’s little flashiness in the skill set of a block-first tight end.
Takacs wasn’t consistent on the rare occasions the ball was thrown his way last week. With Notre Dame loaded at the tight end position, he should have time to develop into a well-rounded player.
Takacs was the only Notre Dame signee at the Army Bowl labeled as a three-star recruit by 247Sports. He’s slated as the No. 14 tight end and No. 331 overall in the class.
"I know that Takacs is a good athlete, Wiltfong said. “He's a willing blocker. He's a tough, physical football player. He's in the mold of a Nic Weishar."