Evaluating All-American Bowl performances of Notre Dame's recruits

Carter Karels
South Bend Tribune

The East team’s 48-14 blowout victory over the West in Saturday’s high school football All-American Bowl prevented Asa Turner from seeing the field at linebacker much.

The 6-foot-4, 201-pounder’s decision boils down to a pair of schools that desire him at different positions: Notre Dame (linebacker) and Washington (safety). Turner played safety for Carlsbad (Calif.) High but mostly garnered offers as a linebacker.

Turner would begin as a rover for the Irish before transitioning into a buck linebacker — a path in which ND 2019 signees Marist Liufau and Jack Kiser could also take. ND is open to him playing safety, if Turner must in order to join.

“I could see him playing that rover role at Notre Dame,” said Steve Wiltfong, 247Sports’ director of recruiting. “You watch him at practice, and he’s quick to get out in the flats and make plays. He’s smooth and he’s long. I don’t know where his body is going to take him, but I just know I would take him.”

Although he saw limited game action, Turner practiced before media members across four days. Wiltfong knows ND will be looking for replacements of departing starters Te’von Coney and Drue Tranquill.

“Notre Dame really struggled to recruit second-level defenders and athletic safeties prior to Mike Elko and Clark Lea,” Wiltfong said. “Jack Kiser, Kyle Hamilton, Asa (Turner) — if they can get him — those are guys that bring unique traits to the room that they don’t have. (Safety) Jalen Elliot had a really good senior year for Notre Dame. A smart, tough, hard-nosed football player. But he’s not capable of some of the things these guys are capable of.

“But on the flip side, Jalen got used to the speed of the game and understood what was asked of him. We don’t know where these guys are at instinctually when they get to the next level. But from a talent perspective, they are upgrades.”

Four of the 21 Irish signees also competed in San Antonio’s Alamodome last week — Kyle Hamilton, Andrew Kristofic, NaNa Osafo-Mensah and Jay Bramblett. Wiltfong offered his thoughts on each of them, besides Bramblett, because of his lack in punting expertise.

S Kyle Hamilton, 6-3, 190; Atlanta Marist: Hamilton placed himself in position to secure five-star status once 247Sports updates its rankings, which is expected to come after the Jan. 19 Polynesian Bowl. Only the top 19 players on 247Sports are five-stars, however the site will expand that amount to about 35 players.

Michigan receiver signee Cornelius Johnson, a former ND target, competed against Hamilton in one-on-one drills all week. The West rarely threw in Hamilton’s direction in his three-tackle performance on Saturday.

“Kyle Hamilton will bring a unique skillset to Notre Dame,” Wiltfong said. “From his size, length and athleticism, he is an upgrade in the secondary for them. And he’s a guy I anticipate being a difference maker.”

247Sports tabs Hamilton as the No. 2 safety and No. 22 overall player. Rivals slates Hamilton as a four-star as well and ranks him as the No. 8 safety and No. 97 overall.

OL Andrew Kristofic, 6-6, 275; Gibsonia (Pa.) Pine-Richland: He’s not Notre Dame’s highest-rated offensive lineman, but Kristofic may have the most upside. The Irish staff believes that if added weight does not tarnish Kristofic’s advanced athleticism, he could develop into a future first-round NFL pick at left tackle.

“He moves well. Multi-sport kid that has that quickness, burst and tenacity in short area spaces,” Wiltfong said. “Obviously, he still has a ways to go from a strength and power department. But that’s something that coach Balis and Co. have the dough to work with there.”

Kristofic, who will enroll early, looked raw at right tackle for a majority of the week. He struggled against USC weak-side defensive end signee Drake Jackson. Kristofic, though, showed flashes during one-on-one drills, including against Irish signee NaNa Osafo-Mensah.

247Sports gave Kristofic a four-star rating and slated him as the No. 15 offensive tackle and No. 116 overall player. Kristofic is a four-star and No. 27 at his position on Rivals.

“Andrew was not the dominant offensive lineman down here,” Wiltfong said. “But I think he showed a very high ceiling with his ability to move. We know he’s a good athlete, and you feel good about it with him going to a program like Notre Dame, where they have had so much success at the point of attack. I still believe that him and Zeke Correll are the guys that will be multi-year starters and guys that Brian Kelly will be able to count on up front.”

WDE NaNa Osafo-Mensah, 6-3, 235; Fort Worth (Texas) Nolan Catholic: A crowded defensive end room kept Osafo-Mensah from earning a healthy amount of valuable snaps. He flashed his solid build, athleticism and first step throughout the week via one-on-ones and other drills, though.

“He brings a physicality on the edge,” Wiltfong said. “He’s a guy that I don’t know if he will come in and be a freshman All-American, but with development, he’s a guy that Notre Dame will be able to count on, on the edge. He certainly fit in here (in San Antonio). He was not one of the elite defensive end guys. But he’s a guy that has the traits to become a good pass rusher in South Bend.”

Osafo-Mensah, a consensus four-star, is 247Sports’ No. 7 weak-side defensive end and No. 113 overall player. Rivals ranks him No. 9 at his position and No. 200 overall.

P Jay Bramblett, 6-2, 185; Tuscaloosa (Ala.) Hillcrest: It was not the week Bramblett envisioned when he received his All-American jersey in October. Six weeks removed from ankle surgery, Bramblett struggled with hang time and distance.

“I have been better. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do,” Bramblett told ND Insider after the game.

Although he was not himself, Bramblett still managed to boot it twice for a combined 82 yards, with a long of 46 yards. Bramblett should be back to full strength by next month, he said.

As a senior, Bramblett averaged 45.1 yards per punt, with a long of 59 yards. His hang time and directional kicking impressed 247Sports and Rivals, which rank him as the No. 2 and No. 4 punter, respectively. His season caught the attention of One On One Kicking’s Mike McCabe, who trains Bramblett and almost half of the NFL’s starting punters.

“He was punting at the level of a sophomore in college before the season ended,” McCabe said. “The last prediction I did that with was Blake Gillikin at Penn State when he was out of high school. And he’s been balling.”

Fort Worth (Texas) Nolan Catholic's NaNa Osafo-Mensah, a 2019 defensive tackle, committed to Notre Dame on May 19, 2018.