When top high school football prospects from across the country hit the Alamodome turf this afternoon there will be no shortage of intrigue for Notre Dame fans.
Five Irish commitments - Josh Barajas, Asmar Bilal, Nicco Fertitta, Tristen Hoge and Jerry Tillery - will suit up for the West alongside five-star tight end Alize Jones, one of the top remaining targets on the board.
Get prepared to watch another U.S. Army All-American Bowl with an Irish Illustrated viewer’s guide.
Commitments front and center
All five Irish commitments should get plenty of playing time for the West.
Hoge started at center all week in practice. Tillery bounced around the offensive line at both guard spots and right tackle, so keep an eye on where the Shreveport, La., product settles in during the game. Earlier this week Tillery revealed plans to play defensive tackle at Notre Dame after enrolling in mid-January.
Barajas and Bilal often lined up with Darrin Kirkland, a Tennessee commitment, to form an all-Indiana linebacker corps during West practice this week. That could carry over into the game. Bilal will serve as one of the West’s captains.
Fertitta took plenty of reps at safety, often dropping down to cover slot receivers or into the box. He also received reps on the kickoff coverage units.
Below are numbers and positions for each commitment.
Barajas - linebacker - 44
Bilal - linebacker - 22
Fertitta - safety - 4
Hoge - center - 66
Tillery - offensive line - 76
Top Irish targets on both sides
Jones headlines the remaining targets scheduled to participate.
After opening the practice week with a flourish, Jones sat out the rest of the week with a couple nagging injuries. There’s been some speculation whether or not he’ll be able to suit up for the game. The Las Vegas native will wear No. 8.
Should Jones give it a go, Notre Dame fans could catch a glimpse of the next highly touted tight end to come to South Bend. Jones remains committed to UCLA but the Irish seem to be trending up.
Running back Jordan Cronkrite, who took an official visit to Notre Dame last month, will wear No. 12 for the East team.
Notre Dame missed out on Ronald Jones II when he announced for USC at the Under Armour All-America Game, so figuring out where things stand with Cronkrite down the home stretch of recruiting will take on even more importance.
What might have been
Both rosters will feature several former Notre Dame targets.
Athlete Ykili Ross is scheduled to announce a verbal commitment during the telecast with USC the heavy favorite.
Other familiar names include Mekhi Brown, Lawrence Cager, Neville Gallimore, Porter Gustin, K.J. Hill, Justin Hilliard, Keisean Lucier-South, Osa Masina, Kahlil McKenzie, John Reid, Travis Waller, Michael Weber and Joseph Wicker.
Keep an eye in particular on McKenzie, one of the most powerful defensive linemen on hand. The Tennessee commitment, who sat out his senior season with an eligibility issue, could be poised for a big game. He’s consistently ranked among the best performers all week during practices, regardless of position. Scout.com has McKenzie tabbed as the nation’s top overall prospect.