Notre Dame Football Recruiting

Irish Invasion Observations

June 11, 2017

Several of Notre Dame’s top prospects were working out inside Notre Dame Stadium at Irish Invasion on Saturday night.

The night started off with some individual testing, and the Notre Dame staff was hard at work to record times and stats.

Unlike in past years, the top prospects in attendance were working out and competing on Saturday. Only one prospect didn’t work out, and it was 2019 Bishop Dunne (Texas) safety Brian Williams, who might be the top safety prospect in the country. He was seen hanging out with cornerback Nick Watkins as they are from the same high school.

Top Dog

The most impressive player in the camp was 2018 defensive back Shayne Simon. The four-star prospect looks the part but also plays the part. Simon is a very physical player and one that has a natural feel for the game. You didn’t see him take many chances in his 1-on-1 reps and he didn’t get beat.

The 6-foot-2, 195-pounder has a fluid movement and while not the fastest guy, Simon uses his football IQ to put himself in a position to make plays. I was impressed with his will to compete and desire to not take a play off. Simon didn’t line up against the best competition at times on Saturday night, but he played his butt off.

Ademilola Twins

For all the concern about the Notre Dame defensive line, the Irish will get a significant boost when Jayson and Justin Ademilola arrive next summer. Both players look like defensive linemen and play like defensive linemen.

I was impressed with Justin the most out of the two as he showed more explosiveness and athletic ability than I was expecting. Jayson was also impressive, and he battled through some cramping all night, but he continued to play.

I am not sure how high school teams have much success with the Ademilola twins and Simon on the same defense. All three players were very impressive, and it was clear the twins had Notre Dame’s commits recruiting Simon throughout the night.

DE Jayson Oweh

This is the kid Notre Dame needs to land on a yearly basis. The 6-foot-5, 236-pounder is extremely raw and has a long way to go, but there is just so much to work with over the next few years.
Oweh has the athletic ability to make him a nightmare off the edge and possess length to make life difficult for any tackle trying to block him. He doesn’t know what he is doing all the time, but his God-given athletic traits make up for it at times.

Mike Elston was taking his time coaching Oweh up, and it seemed like the four-star prospect was more than open to soaking it all in. Notre Dame isn’t going to land the five-star defensive ends on a consistent basis, but if they can land the guys that have the five-star ceiling, they will be in great shape.


2018 linebacker Cameron McGrone is well on his way to having a big senior season after tearing his ACL in October. The 6-foot-1, 215-pounder was smooth and explosive on Saturday night.

The four-star prospect can really close on the ball, and that’s something Notre Dame needs from the linebacker spot. He was a little shorter than I expected but I am not concerned with his size either.

Irish Sports Daily Markese Stepp
2018 Notre Dame running back commit Markese Stepp was back in action, and it was good to see him not thinking about a hamstring injury he battled for over a year. The 6-foot-2, 220-pounder looked like a college running back right now and showed the explosiveness that led to a big sophomore season.

Autry Denson was working the running backs hard, and it surprised Stepp, but he also embraced the chance to get pushed by his future position coach. I have to think Notre Dame was encouraged with what they saw athletically from Stepp at the camp.

2019 quarterback Sam Howell throws a great ball, and I felt he was the best quarterback at the camp. The North Carolina native hit a few deep balls and showed the ability to have a nice touch on it.

2021 quarterback Ronnie Powlus was also in attendance on Saturday. The son of Ron Powlus is just entering high school and looks like a college junior. Powlus has a quite a ways to go regarding throwing the football and his delivery, but he didn’t look out of place against much older competition.

2019 athlete Ainias Smith was also impressive. The Texas native worked out at receiver and cornerback on Saturday and made plays from both positions. Smith is a little small right now, but he if he can grow a couple of inches, I think he could turn into a nice prospect. He can move and showed some explosiveness getting out of his breaks.

2019 Fort Wayne (Ind.) receiver Craig Young (pictured) has all the physical tools you could ever want a receiver to have and more. He did drop a few balls but he also just got back into football training last week after taking the spring off to focus on track.

Young is just a smooth runner and had zero problems getting off the line of scrimmage. If he can fine tune his routes and hands, I do believe he will turn into a national prospect.

Casual Observations

After the camp, Simon walked up to head coach Brian Kelly and gave him a big hug. Both guys were smiling ear to ear, but to our knowledge, Simon has yet to commit to the Irish. However, it was a good moment to see and showed Simon was pretty comfortable with his surroundings.

Defensive coordinator Mike Elko was a quote machine on Saturday night as he was joking with the players and fellow coaches on several occasions.

Before a drill, Elko told the defensive backs to turn and go. A player asked how far to go down the field, and Elko responded with “You cannot outrun my arm.”

During 1-on-1s, the receivers were having problems getting off the line as the defense was in press coverage. Elko yelled out “Should we start playing off-coverage?”

Tommy Rees is going to be just fine in his role. He might not have the sexiest resumé on paper, but he’s a football guy. Rees was displeased with how some quarterbacks were doing a drill and stopped the drill to go through the drill himself to show the players how he wanted it done.

Rees seems to have a command of what he is doing and wants the quarterback to do.

2019 athlete Michael Love had a really nice day at receiver. The 5-foot-10, 160-pounder is a little on small side but knows how to get open and can catch the football. People said his brother, Julian Love, was too small but he proved his size wasn't concern pretty quick. Love will camp at Ohio State next.

Lou Holtz and Brady Quinn were also in attendance.

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