All-American Bowl week ended on Saturday with a 55-17 dominating victory for the East squad over the West team. There were five Notre Dame signees that participated in the game, including defensive end Brenan Vernon and safety Adon Shuler on the East side, as well as linebacker Drayk Bowen, cornerback Micah Bell and offensive lineman Sullivan Absher on the West.
Offensive tackle Charles Jagusah and wide receiver Rico Flores Jr. were also selected to play for the West team but unfortunately could not compete due to injury. Let’s take a look at how each future Irish player fared.
It was an offensive outburst for the East team, including 455 total yards. On the other side of the football, the East defense only allowed nine first downs and 170 total yards on 44 plays.
It ended up being a dominant showing for the team all around. One of the highlight plays of the day came from a Notre Dame signee.
DE BRENAN VERNON
In the second quarter of the game, Vernon made the biggest play by any Notre Dame player on the day. He read screen from the West team, stepped in front of the throw and intercepted future Oregon quarterback Austin Novosad with a tremendous one handed catch.
Vernon would rumble for 21 yards to take the team into West territory. The team would score on the very next play with a 29 yard touchdown catch from Ohio State signee Brandon Inniss.
The Ohio native did have a couple nice rushes but wasn’t able to record any other stats on the day outside of a batted pass. Vernon’s performance capped off a very good week in San Antonio.
S ADON SHULER
The game was pretty much exactly like the week for Shuler. He was rock solid and rarely tested. There is a steadiness to how the New Jersey star plays the game, always seeming to be in the right spot.
On the day, he recorded two tackles and didn’t give up a reception. Shuler also had a really heads up play in the first half when the East squad partially blocked a punt.
Shuler picked up the ball and advanced it five yards. The punt was ready to bounce quite a bit, saving his offense substantial field position on the play. Funny enough, those five yards also made Shuler the leader in punt return yards on the day for either squad.
It was a tough day for the West squad. They were dealt with several injuries coming into the week and depth at certain positions seemed to be an issue.
OL SULLIVAN ABSHER
For the most part, Absher was solid during the All-American Bowl, taking nearly every two at right guard during the game. It was an uneven week for the North Carolina standout but really recovered well after a tough first in pass protection.
Absher is a much better football player in team settings than in one-on-one sections of practices, which is to be expected from a player with such limited experience as a pass protector. There were plenty of reps creating easy movement and also working up to the second level.
It was an all-around solid day for Absher.
LB DRAYK BOWEN
Bowen had a stellar week of practice at the All-American Bowl. On the first day, he made several splash plays and followed that up with stacking three good days on top of that.
The game was a bit more up and down for the All-American Bowl Defensive Player of the Year. Bowen recorded five total tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss for the West. That 1.5 tackles for loss was actually the most by any player on either side.
Bowen did miss a couple of tackles, as well as being a part of a coverage bust that allowed future Miami running back Mark Fletcher score a long touchdown. His biggest issue on the day was getting off of blocks, which should be a focus area this spring.
At the end of the day, the practices matter a whole lot more than the game. It may not have ended the way he wanted but Bowen still put together a great week in San Antonio.
CB MICAH BELL
It was a game to forget for Bell. After a slow start to the week while dealing with a back strain, Bell put together a tremendous day of practices on Wednesday. He really turned the week around heading into the game.
Unfortunately Bell struggled during the game, giving up two touchdowns to Inniss and Ohio State signee Carnell Tate, while also recording two tackles. On both plays, Bell gave up clean releases and fell into recovery mode.
With how athletic Bell is, he has the type of speed to recover and make up for lack of technique early on in reps against most wide receivers. Against players like Inniss and Tate, the beginning of reps are essential. The tools are there, just a need for more attention to detail.