Irish signees NaNa Osafo-Mensah, Andrew Kristofic squared off at All-American Bowl

Carter Karels
South Bend Tribune

SAN ANTONIO — The All-American Bowl presented a first for Notre Dame signees Andrew Kristofic and NaNa Osafo-Mensah.

Kristofic, starting at right tackle for the East team, estimated that he faced the West’s Osafo-Mensah, who rotated at weak-side defensive end, for about 15 plays. Their chatter between plays comprised of no trash talk, but rather words of encouragement.

That’s not something either did much of at Gibsonia (Pa.) Pine-Richland or Fort Worth (Texas) Nolan Catholic.

“We weren’t talking trash at all,” Kristofic said. “Every play was like, ‘Good job, bro. Good job.’ … Even players back home, the kids you know, it is different. Even the guys you know back at home, it is not like you are going to be living with them and spending the next few years with them.”

The four ND signees and two targets who played in Saturday’s contest in the Alamodome served as a microcosm for the East’s uneventful 48-14 thrashing of the West. Safety Kyle Hamilton and punter Jay Bramblett also donned the East’s black jerseys, while Irish targets Isaiah Foskey and Asa Turner played limited snaps for the West, which sported white jerseys.

The 6-foot-6, 265-pound Kristofic and 6-3, 235-pound Osafo-Mensah clashed during Wednesday’s one-on-one drills. Kristofic struggled against USC signee Drake Jackson but held his own versus Osafo-Mensah.

“I thought I did well against him, and he did really well against me,” Osafo-Mensah said. “I got past him a couple times, but that quarterback would just step up. But also, he would hold me and prevent me from getting back there. We both probably had a draw type of game. It was a really good matchup.”

All eyes were on Kyle Hamilton, ND’s highest-rated player on 247Sports. The site’s No. 2 safety and No. 22 overall player is poised for a five-star rating in the upcoming weeks. Hamilton recorded three tackles as a starter, and the West’s quarterbacks rarely threw in his direction.

Barton Simmons, the director of scouting for 247Sports, project him as an NFL first-round pick. He compares Hamilton to Kam Chancellor, a safety for the Seattle Seahawks and four-time Pro Bowler.

“The name in this class you have to know is Kyle Hamilton,” said Simmons on the NBC broadcast. “He’s a kid who was a three-star about a year ago. The way his body developed and transformed over the last year, the athleticism he has shown, the way he has gotten things organized athletically on the back end, it is so impressive. His senior film is off the charts. I think he’s going to be a major impact player for the Irish.”

Six weeks removed from ankle surgery, Bramblett struggled to shake off rust this week. A decrease in punting distance and hang time had the Tuscaloosa (Ala.) Hillcrest product frustrated. He booted two punts for 82 yards with a long of 46, however both punts were line drives of sorts.

Bramblett told ND Insider this week that he expects to return to 100 percent in a month.

“I have been better. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do,” Bramblett said. “But it was really cool to come here and play in a venue like this in front of all these people. Not a lot of people get to do this. It’s a really awesome opportunity.”

Foskey and Turner played in limited action due to the blowout, with the former batting a pass. ND views Turner as a linebacker while Washington wants him at safety, which led to the Carlsbad (Calif.) High product delaying his decision. Turner said he will commit “at least a week” before National Signing Day on Feb. 6.

A safety in high school, Turner played linebacker for the first time this week.

“I think (this week) showed that I could play linebacker if I get as big as regular linebackers and stuff like that,” Turner said.

The biggest Irish recruiter in San Antonio has been Osafo-Mensah, who said he became locker room buddies with Foskey and conversed with Turner throughout the week. No one saw Osafo-Mensah on the field more than Kristofic, though.

Both of them, as well as Bramblett, are among the 10 Irish signees who will enroll early.

“A lot of guys are freak athletes, but they don’t necessarily have the football technique or skill to go along with it. That is not the case at all for him,” said Kristofic of Osafo-Mensah. “He’s a freak athlete. Really long, really strong, fast. He has also got the football sense, moves and technique that will go along with that freaky athletic ability that makes him as good of a player as he is.”

Andrew Kristofic, Notre Dame’s 2019 signee, flashes athleticism and will play left tackle for the Irish.