Monday, December 31, 2007

All-Star Irish | by Pat

If you're like me, you probably heard "So, when is the ND bowl game again?" at least once during the holiday season. Unless you were knee deep in egg nog it probably wasn't too hard to laugh off. Just mumble something about an ugly season, freshmen starters, Clausen, and then quickly change the topic.

Still, it's tough to see the approximately 124 bowl games knowing ND is sitting home. As for now, the closest thing we're going to get to a Notre Dame bowl are the two major high school All-American bowl games. In the past the US Army All-American bowl has been the only game in town so to speak and it is loaded with ND recruits this year (insert Tom Lemming joke here). This year ESPN is jumping on the recruiting bandwagon with their own all-star showcase: the Under Armor All-American Football game. All told 18 of the 22 Irish recruits are playing in these glorified scrimmages.

Consider this your recruitnik cheatsheet for the next weekends games.

What: US Army All-American Bowl

When: Saturday, January 5th

Where: NBC, 1pm


East Team: Robert Blanton, Lane Clelland, Sean Cwynar, Steve Filer, Darius Fleming, Mike Golic, Jr., John Goodman, Jonas Gray, Brandon Newman, Kyle Rudolph

West Team: Dayne Crist, Michael Floyd, Ethan Johnson, Anthony McDonald, Trevor Robinson
For a full list of recruits playing, here is the East team roster and the West team roster. ND's Ethan Johnson is technically a member of the team, but won't be playing as he's rehabbing an injury. Also of note for Irish fans is West team member Gerell Robinson. He may or may not make his college selection during the game (I'm excited to see if NBC goes with the standard hat on a table routine or uses the duffel bag surprise from last year. Choices, choices...) but the Irish are considered one of his favorites. Jonas Gray is also writing an on-line diary of sorts for during the week and unlike many of the practice updates, it isn't premium content so read away.

What: Under-Armor High School All-America Game

When: Saturday, January 5th

Where: ESPN, 2pm

Red Team: Omar Hunter, Jamoris Slaughter
Silver Team: Braxston Cave
It's sounding at this point that if any recruit does leave the fold, it will be Omar Hunter. Rumors of a trip to the Gators looms large and history shows that a late trip like that is rarely good news for the currently committed school. For now we're keeping him in the ND column, but I wouldn't get too excited by the accounts of him dominating the practices this week. Other ND recruits playing in the game include offensive linemen Kenneth Page for the Red Team and Deion Walker for the Silver Team. Walker is expected to announce his college choice during the game and ND is considered a finalist in his decision. Here is the complete game roster for those interested.

Of course, both games are going to overlap on TV (ESPN is clearly gunning to overtake the US Army game as the recruit all-star bash of choice) so you'll have to work the remote if you want to catch all the players. As part of the Under Armor/ESPN game, ESPN2 will be airing a skills challenge on Friday night at 7pm. Hopefully I'll be able once again to post a summary of sorts of the hyperbole filled-events. Once you get past the shame of explaining to loved ones that you plan on watching a high school All-Star game and figure out how to appropriately filter the high praise lauded on every recruit, it's kind of fun to get your first real glimpse of some of the players that will be wearing the Blue and Gold next season.