Irish commits shine in Semper Fi practice

Santa Ana, Calif. – Notre Dame is well represented in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl and the Irish commits here turned in strong performances during Friday’s practice. Micah Dew-Treadway, Prentice McKinney, C.J. Sanders and Brandon Tiassum all made a case for starting roles in Sunday’s game.

Notre Dame is well represented in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl, which will be played at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., on Sunday, Jan. 4 and will air on FS1.

Six Irish commitments were selected as Semper Fi All-Americans including wide receiver Miles Boykin, who is injured and will not play in the game, defensive end Micah Dew-Treadway, safety Prentice McKinney, wide receiver C.J. Sanders, defensive tackle Brandon Tiassum and linebacker Bo Wallace.

Wallace will represent the East while the rest of the Irish prospects will play for the West.

Irish Illustrated was out at Eddie West Field at Santa Ana Stadium on Friday for the West’s practice. The three-hour workout focused on special teams with a touch of one-on-one and seven-on-seven action.

McKinney, a 6-foot-2, 180-pounder from Dallas, was the most impressive of the Irish prospects on Friday. He played with confidence and a bit of a chip on his shoulder.

According to Scout.com National Recruiting Analyst Greg Biggins, McKinney is bigger than advertised and could settle in closer to 200 pounds in college.

“He told me he’s 6-3, 180 but he looks bigger,” Biggins said. “I was actually surprised. It looks like he’ll be 200 easy in a couple years. He’s smooth, real fluid in his hips. I can tell he’s got a little bit of an edge to him. He was kind of holding back; there’s not supposed to be any hitting but I can tell he’s got something there. I think he’s going to be pretty good.”

McKinney, who committed to Notre Dame in March and made his official visit to South Bend in September, has plans to officially visit UCLA later this month but said he remains solidly committed to the Irish.

“I only did the visit because my parents wanted me to experience it and because it was just a free trip just to go around the country because I’ve never been,” McKinney said. “I’ve been out of Texas, but just to experience more and everything, but I’m still a Notre Dame commit.”

Sanders, a 5-foot-9, 175-pound wide receiver from Sherman Oaks, Calif., has been among the top wide receivers in practice.

He has been the most consistent pass catcher and has the ability to turn a short pass into a big gain.

“I thought he was the best guy for the first two days,” Biggins said. “No one can cover him. He’s probably the best natural pass catcher out here. He’s real smooth, works hard and the coaches love him. He’s a yes sir, no sir, very disciplined kid, route running and all that. He’s a true home run threat. He can catch a little six-yard hitch and go 50. I like him a lot.”

Dew-Treadway, a 6-foot-4, 275-pounder from Bolingbrook, Ill., is a promising athlete with a frame similar to former Irish defensive end Stephon Tuitt, who was 6-foot-5, 260 pounds when he signed with Notre Dame in 2011.

In his one-on-one reps Dew-Treadway was quick off the ball and used a variety of moves to beat offensive linemen. He’ll enroll at Notre Dame for the spring semester.

“I think one thing that when I get to school that they’ll clean up is my strength, getting me finally toned everywhere that I need to be. I think that’s the most important thing right now,” Dew-Treadway said. “I was a little nervous coming in but once you settle in and focus straight ahead and you get technique down and your strength, I think I’m doing good right now.”

Defensive tackle Brandon Tiassum, a 6-foot-5, 290-pounder from Indianapolis, cruised through his one-on-one repetitions. He used his big frame to his advantage and also has a repertoire of moves to shed blocks.

“I watched a little of him in the one-on-ones,” Biggins said. “Big body, obviously. Violent hands are one thing I noticed. Out of all the guys he’s probably the one guy that I haven’t got the best feel of. I watched two reps, one-on-ones, and he won both of them fairly easily. It looks like he’s got some upside for sure.”

Four-star safety Frank Buncom, a 6-foot-1, 195-pounder from San Diego, is on Notre Dame’s wish list and the Irish prospects are working hard to influence his decision.

Buncom, who won’t play in the game after suffering a knee injury in last month’s state championship, has a final four of Notre Dame, Stanford, Cal and Vanderbilt. He’s already visited South Bend and Nashville and will visit the other two later this month before announcing his decision on Jan. 28.

“All the buzz is Stanford,” Biggins said. “He’s already been academically cleared to there, which has been a big hurdle. I know he loved the Notre Dame visit and the Vanderbilt visit, but from what you hear it’s going to be tough to beat out Stanford right now. He’s a good kid. He got hurt the last game so he’s not able to work out here but (he can play) safety, big corner and he can even play some wide receiver. He’s a football player.”

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