Irish All-American Bowl: East Squad

Notre Dame had five players that played for the East squad in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl this past weekend. Irish Eyes was there all week talking to them and watching them practice. Here's an in-depth look at each player from the East squad.

There was more to the player's performance in the U.S. Army All-American than game day. The players participated in practices throughout the week. Here is a look at how each player performed during their preparation for the bowl game.

Zach Frazer – Quarterback East squad: The first thing I noticed about Zach was his size. He is every bit 6'-4" and I'd be surprised if he wasn't heavier than his listed weight of 215 pounds. His size just jumps out at you. It isn't bad size, in fact he looks to be in fantastic shape and ready to get on the field. The other thing that surprised me was Frazer's mobility. He moves much better than I had anticipated. He rolls to both sides very well and is accurate throwing going to his right or left.

I'm not a quarterback guru, so I won't break down his mechanics. During the early practices Zach struggled adjusting to the speed of the All-American Bowl receivers and I think he'd tell you the same. There were times the ball would sail on him, but as the week progressed, he got his timing down and was hitting his mark with regularity. His strength was hitting the short to mid-range routes.

In terms of velocity, Frazer showed a strong arm during the bowl game, as he did in practice. There were moments during the practice sessions that the ball didn't come out with a lot of velocity, but that may have been due to his adjustment to the receivers. Zach has a very good touch when he needs to take something off the ball.

Don't look at the stats of the game or the game itself to determine whether Zach will compete for the starting quarterback spot at Notre Dame. This game is very difficult for quarterbacks to look good, as both Mitch Mustain and Tim Tebow struggled. Overall this was a great learning experience for Frazer as he prepares himself for Notre Dame.

Barry Gallup – Wide Receiver East squad: Was there a player on either squad whose stock rose more than Barry Gallup? In talking to Barry over the months he said, "I know I can compete, all I need is an opportunity to show that I'm capable." From the moment he stepped foot on the East's practice field he made plays and proved that he belong on the field with the best players in the country. The Scout.com national recruiting experts finished each day by evaluating players with either a "stock up", "stock same" or "stock down" grade. At the end of each day when Gallup's name was called a call of "stock up" would follow.

Gallup was much bigger than I had anticipated. He is a legit 5-10, 175 pounds. He is thick and has a very solid frame. He has large hands. On the field, Gallup has some wiggle -- actually a lot of wiggle. He is explosive. When a hole opens up – zip and he's through like a shot.

Barry's technique was as good as any of the wide receivers. He catches the ball with his hands and he gets his head around quickly. He's a very polished prospect.

I asked Scout.com's recruiting expert Bob Lichtenfels if he thought Gallup would be ready to play in his second year at Notre Dame. Bob responded, "Did you get a look at him? He can play next year…easily. Get him returning kicks and he could take one to the house any time."

James Aldridge – Running back East squad: Aldridge is the player that everyone thinks he is. He's a strong runner that puts the hammer down when he hits the line. He has the ability to make players miss, but he keeps his shoulders square and moves forward. He does his best work between the tackles and he does a good job of keeping his feet after first contact.

When I spoke with James he said that he was down to around 208 pounds. He said he felt too light and he'd like to get back up to around 220 pounds. He has already been doing the workouts that Notre Dame strength coach Mendoza sent him. He'll get the chance to work with coach Mendoza up close in a couple days, as James will report to Notre Dame at the end of the week.

Aldridge didn't get a lot of work during the All-American Bowl, but he said he was healthy. The lack of carries didn't bother him, he just was grateful to be a part of the weeklong festivities.

Demetrius Jones – Quarterback East Squad. Demetrius is coming off a rotator cuff injury and wasn't scheduled to participate in the bowl game, but he did make it down to San Antonio to watch his future teammates compete. Jones said he is almost completely healed and that he'd be ready to go when he reports to South Bend in late June.

Demetrius is going to be one of the leaders in this class. He is very personable and people are just drawn to him. He was only in San Antonio and it seemed like he knew all the players from both squads. During my conversations with him, players continually walked past and said hello to him. At one point I nicknamed him "The Mayor" due to his popularity. Notre Dame will be good for Demetrius Jones and Demetrius Jones will be good for Notre Dame.

Dan Wenger – Center East Squad: Wenger isn't as big as I anticipated, in terms of weight but he certainly has the frame to add size. He is exceptionally quick off the ball, and because of that center seems to be a great fit for him, although he certainly could play guard. Because of his quickness he always seems to get out on his man and get his block regardless if he's called on the get to the linebackers.

One thing I heard people talk about when I asked them about Dan is his physical nature and his nastiness. He is very competitive and plays through the whistle.

I watch Wenger work with the quarterbacks on the shotgun snap and he was very consistent. The ball came back quickly and every one of them was right at the quarterback's hands.

John Sullivan will likely be the Irish center for the next two years, but there will be an opportunity for one of the young offensive lineman to earn playing time at the guard position. I wouldn't doubt that Wenger he would get a look there. Overall he looked outstanding during the bowl practices.

Dan was injured early in the bowl game. When I spoke with him afterward, he said that he had injured his ankle and was going to get precautionary x-rays.

Raeshon McNeil Cornerback East Squad: I mentioned above, that there might not have been a player that improved their stock more than Barry Gallup, but Raeshon McNeil certainly created quite a buzz throughout the week in San Antonio. Raeshon was named the defensive MVP for the East squad and he likely would have earned that honor throughout the week of practice. Every day during the Scout.com recruiting experts evaluation period, when McNeil's name was called "stock up" was the answer.

Raeshon doesn't have the fastest forty time, but he makes up for it with great feet and change of direction. The Scout.com recruiting experts continually commented about his ability to stick to Vidal Hazelton and Percy Harvin, two of the best receivers in the country. The one issue they noted was that although McNeil was stride-for-stride with these players, Hazelton was able to make plays over McNeil. But overall they were very impressed with his ability to cover. I asked the Scout.com recruiting experts if he was a cornerback or a safety at the next level and their response was, "Definitely cover corner ability."

Fast forward to the All-American Bowl and I think every saw Raeshon ability to stick with the West's receivers. A number of the East players remarked after the game that they were surprised to see the West continue to throw to McNeil's side because "He's the man."

In terms of height, Raeshon is every bit 5'-11" if not more. He's slender, but he is strong and appears to relish contact. He certainly put his hat on some players during the bowl game. Raeshon came into the week a relative unknown, and he came out a marquee name and a projected impact player as a freshman. He has a smile that lights up a room and future just as bright. STOCK UP!


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