Notre Dame Football Recruiting

Thoughts on Notre Dame's Lineman's Challenge

June 18, 2019

2021 Avon (Ind.) offensive lineman Blake Fisher‍ and 2021 Lutheran (Mo.) defensive lineman Gabriel Rubio‍ committed to Notre Dame on Friday and went to work on Saturday at the Lineman’s Challenge event. 

Notre Dame opened up the Lineman’s Challenge for the first time and it was much appreciated as we were able to see both commits in action. 

This recap will be quick as Jamie is the ISD evaluator, but I liked what I saw from several prospects. 

We’ll start with Fisher. 

The 6-foot-6, 325-pounder is one of biggest prospects I’ve seen in person and it’s also incredible how well he moves for his size. Fisher has great feet which allows him to mirror the defensive lineman and why the Irish like him at tackle. I’ve only seen Fisher work out at left tackle in camp settings and I’ve seen him lose two reps in two camps. 

It will be fun to see his progress over the next couple years and really fun to see Fisher once Matt Balis gets his hands on him. 

I would write more but I think the footage below explains it all.

I’ll admit Rubio might have surprised me the most out of anyone at the camp. On film, I didn’t see the explosive player I saw on Saturday. He mentioned he was working on his speed series on Saturday and you could definitely tell as he was unblockable. 

Rubio uses his hands well and is ahead of most prospects his age as he has moves. The 6-foot-5, 275-pounder also showed off his power as he used a bull rush a couple times with success. Now, he isn’t Sheldon Day with his first step, but for a kid his size, Rubio has the chance to cause a lot of problems because he is explosive. 

I also liked the fact Rubio went about his business and came back for more. Rubio would dominate his opponent and then sprint back to get in line for the next rep. I’m not opposed to a little trash talk, but Rubio was there to work. 

2021 Lakeland (Fla.) defensive end Cade Denhoff‍ earned an offer in the middle of camp and you knew it was coming after you saw his first couple of reps. The four-star prospect is everything you want in a prospect headed into his junior year as he’s long at 6-foot-5, but so explosive coming off the edge. 

I didn’t get to see too much power from Denhoff as he was blowing by offensive linemen all day, but he does hold an elite trait and that’s the ability lean with control off the edge. Elite edge players can get low when turning the corner and almost dip over the tackle and Denhoff can do it with ease. 

2021 Fossil Ridge (Colo.) offensive lineman Trey Zuhn‍ would have been the best offensive lineman at the camp if it wasn’t for Fisher. Zuhn worked outside and inside during the camp, which showed off his versatility. He’s a player who plays under control and is patient. 

Zuhn also has excellent feet and it allows him to keep a solid foundation. I was high on him before the camp, but extremely high after seeing him work live. 

2021 Revere (Ohio) offensive lineman Ben Christman‍ came into the camp as the highest ranked player by most services and he definitely passes the eye test. The 6-foot-6, 300-pounder looked like a million bucks and had a good day for the most part. 

Christman did lose his fair share of reps, but a lot of those were against Rubio. In my opinion, he’s more of a power guy right now and excels in the run game, which is normal for offensive linemen his age. He will need to work on his pass sets and keeping himself balanced, but there is a ton of potential there. 

2021 Lakeville South (Minn.) offensive lineman Riley Mahlman‍ was also impressive. He’s got a ways to go physically as he’s skinny, but he had some quality reps and his length is attractive as a tackle. At 6-foot-8, Mahlman is more in the mold of Mike McGlinchey and will have plenty of time to add weight. 

2021 St. Augustine (La.) defensive end Byron Turner‍ was also impressive off the edge. He’s long at 6-foot-4, but I’m not sure he’s the 230 pounds as listed. However, that’s not an issue. He holds three SEC offers and I suspect Notre Dame will keep tabs on him. 

2022 Garber (Mich.) defensive tackle Alex VanSumeren‍ also caught my eye. He’s not going to blow you away with his physical appearance right now, but his play speaks for itself. He’s quick off the line and is advanced with his hands. It will be interesting to see how big he gets as he’s just entering his sophomore year. 

2021 Elkhart Central (Ind.) defensive end Rodney McGraw‍ flashed at times during the camp. He’s a kid who has only played two years of football and it showed at this camp. However, McGraw’s confidence grew as the camp went on and his best reps came later on. He’s an intriguing prospect for me as I think he’s in the mold of Notre Dame defensive end Ade Ogundeji and his best football will be 4-5 years from now once he gets experience and stronger.

Effort Player of the Camp: 2021 DT Natale Frangione‏

The Canadian prospect might not be the biggest guy, but he showed great effort and was quick off the snap. 

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