Fleming Practices, Gray Still Out

SAN ANTONIO - Similar to Jonas Gray, Darius Fleming got off to a fast start on Monday at East practice in preparation for Saturday's U.S. Army All-American game. Scout.com national analyst Bob Lichtenfels said the Notre Dame commit was unstoppable in one-on-one drills, but a minor shoulder injury kept him out of both Tuesday practices.

Fleming went through a couple icepacks instead.

"The first day we battled a little bit, and I got a little shoulder stinger, so they wanted me to rest (Tuesday) and be ready for the scrimmage," Darius Fleming explained. "I paid attention to everything going on in practice, so I'm picking up everything pretty well, so I'm looking forward to the rest of the week."

Fleming was in full pads on Wednesday at the Alamo Dome for the East's intra-squad scrimmage.

"I'm 100 percent now," he stated.

The 6-foot-2, 219-pound (that's listed but he looks much bigger in person) Fleming will report to Notre Dame as that hybrid player in defensive coordinator Corwin Brown's scheme. But this week, the Chicagoan is playing just defensive end for the East team.

"I thought I was playing both, but it looks like I'm only playing d-end," Fleming said. "I just have to take advantage of that, and do what I can do in the game.

For St. Rita High this fall, Fleming played mainly defensive end and had 86 tackles, 12 ½ sacks, seven batted passes, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

"That's what I've been playing all year and that's what I think I'm best at," Fleming said. "Once I get down to Notre Dame, I'm going to transfer things, but for now I'll just do what I have to do."

Which is picking up in practice from where he left off on Monday.

Fleming has been in regular touch with Irish freshman Kerry Neal, who plays that hybrid position at Notre Dame he'll be playing.

"I've been talking to him and he's going to work with me a lot," Fleming said. "I'm going to train and hopefully be ready once I get down there."

***East running back Jonas Gray did not practice for a second straight day on Wednesday. The 5-foot-10, 215-pound Detroit product tweaked his ankle in the Monday morning workout, but said he will be 100 percent for Saturday's game.

The Notre Dame commit will split carries with Ryan Williams and Lamaar Thomas.

***Heading into Wednesday's practice, East tight end Kyle Rudolph said he had only lined up tight through two days of workouts. He was told that eventually they'll spread the field and move him out wide on some plays.

Doing what he's been asked, the 6-foot-7, 235-pound Irish commit has more than held his own as a blocker, and in few opportunities, shown how dangerous he is as a pass catcher. In one play on Tuesday, he found a seam in the middle of the defense and hauled in a 40-yard touchdown catch similar to what Notre Dame tight end John Carlson did so often.

"It's been fun," Rudolph stated. "Hopefully we'll get a few more passes in."

***Anthony McDonald looks to be running No. 2 at mike linebacker for the West team behind Lynn Katoa, but is certainly doing more than holding his own in practice.

"Practice is going good, team is looking good, plan on taking it to the East on Saturday," McDonald said.

The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Irish commit has been very impressed with the speed of the West offense.

"I think that's the biggest difference, I just think the speed," McDonald explained. "Everyone is fast. Compared to me, most of the guys are faster than me, but my toughness and strength make up for it."

Being from Sherman Oaks, Calif, McDonald hadn't got much of a chance to meet many of his future Irish teammates, but with 13 others playing in this game as well, he is making fast friends.

"I've only met about half of them," McDonald said. "It's been really fun. Connecting with Kyle Rudolph, me and him are pretty good friends now, and bunch of other guys, Lane Clelland, so it's been really fun. We have like 15 guys down here, so we're having a good time."

Notre Dame would have 15 guys in San Antonio if Gerell Robinson decided to commit to the Irish over Arizona State and Oregon.

"He's coming, I'll tell you that, he's coming," McDonald predicted with a laugh.

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