“When he showed up to register, automatically I was even more impressed because on film, he comes across with a lot slighter build,” ESPN Scouts Inc. Recruiting Coordinator Craig Haubert said. “That’s a well put together kid.”
The tight end, who is verbally committed to Notre Dame, is listed in the Under Armour program at 6-foot-5, 228 pounds, but may be bigger than that. Koyack says it’s been a balance of a 17-year-old growing and a 17-year-old working hard.
“A lot of it is natural,” he said during Monday’s media luncheon. “Back when I first started, I was practically allergic to the weight room. I never got in there, but once I got in there, I just started getting better the first couple of months.”
It’s been more than just lifting, though.
“More running actually than anything,” said Koyack. “I’m in a lot better shape than I have been in the last couple of years. My legs have gotten a lot stronger, I’m working more on my upper body. Hopefully by the time I get to college, I’ll be ready to get into the game.”
Koyack is excited about getting to South Bend. The Irish have a deep stable of tight ends, but they could be losing their leader if Kyle Rudolph decides to go to the NFL.
“I just want to get on the field up there,” said Koyack. “I feel like I can just get in there, maybe if I only get in a little bit, but I feel like I can make an impact out there.”
Koyack feels that his time at the Under Armour All-America Football Game will help him get ready for college.
“It’s really exciting,” he said. “It’s fun to be with guys on the same level or maybe even better. I feel like it’s making me a lot better and preparing me for the next level.”
Koyack is rooming with his teammate on the White Team and future teammate at Notre Dame, wide receiver DaVaris Daniels.
“It’s pretty fun,” he said of rooming with Daniels. “We’ve had to wake each other up the last couple of days because we’ve both been falling asleep after practice and whatnot. It’s a lot of fun because now we get to know each other a lot more before we get to campus.”
Daniels’ flight from Chicago was delayed, so he missed Notre Dame’s victory over Miami in the Hyundai Sun Bowl on New Year’s Eve, but Koyack watched it.
“That was first thing I did when I got here, I just sat down and watched the game,” he said. “I thought Miami was going to give them a hard time, but Notre Dame really showed them what was up.”
Koyack hasn’t been trying too hard to show White Team teammate Amir Carlisle or any other Irish prospects here what’s up with Notre Dame.
“A lot of the guys really don’t talk about it,” Koyack said of recruiting. “Whenever it gets brought up, we thrown in a couple of things saying, ‘You know, maybe check out this place.’ Just trying to get everyone to give it a look.”
SAN ANTONIO, TX - Tuesday morning was a cold, wet day at Jerry Comalander Stadium. Once again the West team went through a slow and methodical day of work, but on this cold morning there was a bit more action than we saw in the previous days practice. After a bit of a slow one-on-one period and various walk-through periods, the West went into some live team drills. During this period we saw a bit more action, with the line getting after it and the run game being a point of emphasis.
Here are some of my observations from the day:
The equipment for Notre Dame OL commit Matt Hegarty (Aztec, N.M./Aztec) finally arrived in San Antonio. Being in his own gear seemed to suit Hegarty quite well, as the five-star tackle looked much healthier today than he did during Monday’s practice. Today Hegarty had his orange knee braces on that he wore during his senior season at Aztec. During the practice Hegarty rotated back and forth between left tackle and left guard. The limp that I saw yesterday from Hegarty seemed to be gone. During pass drills he showed very good quickness off the line, never getting beat to the point of attack. He only got beat on one play by DE Jermaurio Rasco, and on the play Hegarty showed one area where he needs a bit of work. He will have an adjustment to the size of players at the next level. In New Mexico he rarely faced players who could match him size wise, and early on it took him a few times to adjust. Once he got adjusted he was very good. Hegarty was solid on the backside, and showed tremendous agility as pass rushers tried move after move to beat ESPN’s No. 24 overall player. None of those moves worked, as Hegarty mirrored each end that he faced. This will be a big strength for Hegarty at the next level once he adds some strength to his game.
At the beginning of the team period Hegarty lined up at left guard. He showed good quickness off the ball and used his hands well in the run game. On several plays he lined up against four-star DT Marquis Anderson (Oklahoma verbal). Each time Hegarty beat Anderson off the line and sealed off the backside running lane. Not only did Hegarty use his athleticism to beat Anderson, he also did a great job using his hands to get a punch and a push off the ball. The most impressive plays for me with Hegarty were when he was lined up against ViliamiMoala (6-2, 325, CA). Moala is a massive DT prospect with offers from USC, Oregon, Washington, UCLA, Arizona, Arizona State, Stanford, and Oregon State. Moala is also ESPN’s No. 97 ranked player. Moala is the kind of matchup that you would think wouldn’t bode well for Hegarty, who is still a bit undersized. Hegarty won his battles against Moala, showing the ability to use his quickness to beat Moala off the ball as well as flashing quick hands to get inside leverage against the massive DT prospect. What was most impressive is that once he got locked onto Moala he was able to hold his own and even get a push on several plays. At times Hegarty would get his feet crossed up on the edge, which is a technique issue that will need to be corrected.
Overall it was a very good day for Hegarty.
Fellow Notre Dame commit George Atkinson (Livermore, Calif./Granada) had a solid day of practice, but he had fewer balls thrown his way today. Atkinson got beat once up the seam by Jaxon Shipley (Texas verbal) for a touchdown, but that play was more about a great pass by J.W. Walsh (Oklahoma State verbal) and a great catch by Shipley as Atkinson had very good coverage on the day. Atkinson again showed very good quickness and fluidity. I was also impressed by his foot quickness when he was asked to come up in coverage in the slot. Atkinson more than held his own in coverage against George Farmer (USC verbal), who is one of the nation’s best receivers.
Oklahoma State commit J.W. Walsh had a very good day, at least during the routes on air and 7-on-7 periods. Walsh is a talented runner from the quarterback position, but I have always questioned his ability to throw the football at an elite level. While he still has some questions in this regards, he was quite impressive today. Walsh spins the ball with very good velocity, as the ball jumps out of his hand very well. I was very impressed with his ability to throw the vertical routes (posts, go’s, flags, deep ins) with great power. Walsh was very confident and comfortable dropping during the 7-on-7 periods, but was less comfortable during the team period. Nebraska commit Bubba Starling again showed great arm strength, by far the best on the West squad; but he once again showed he is a very, very raw passer. Starling was very erratic and inconsistent on the day. Hopefully the West coaches will allow Starling and Walsh to start using their feet a bit more. USC commit Cody Kessler continues to underwhelm. He has an awkward release that causes his arm to dip, which is not good for a shorter quarterback. He also lacks the kind of arm strength of his peers. His power throws (deep outs, comebacks, deep ins) really die on him. He does throw a nice outside go route and he throws okay on the run. Other than that I was not impressed. Kessler is also not nearly the athlete that Walsh and Starling are.
USC commit Victor Blackwell had a very good day. He ran good routes, often burning the West defensive backs. He also made some very good catches on the day. Where he needs work is to get stronger and be more consistent with his concentration catching the football. Fellow USC commit George Farmer showed his tremendous talent today, making several big plays on the deep ball. But he also shows a poor work ethic and on-field attitude. He has to be more consistent catching the football. Texas commit Jaxon Shipley is a tremendous route runner and shows great hands. He is also a much better athlete than he gets credit for. He is very quick and fluid, looking very good down here in the slot. Odell Beckham Jr. showed very good quickness on the day, as well as the speed to beat defenders over the top. Washington commit Kasen WilliamsAustin Seferian-Jenkins is a physical receiver with very good hands. He looked better getting out of his breaks today than he did yesterday. Tight end (Washington verbal) is a good pass catcher, and he uses his size to really gain position on defenders. He does not run as well as other players at the position and could grow into a defensive tackle, but he could also still end up as a solid tight end.
Arkansas commit Tevin Mitchell had a really rough day in coverage. Mitchell is obviously a good athlete, but he was consistently burnt on the day. USC commit DeAnthony Thomas was very quick in coverage, but his lack of size allowed several balls to get caught over top of him. Nebraska commit Charles Jackson was solid on the day, making several plays and getting beat a couple of times. He’s got very good feet and seems to have natural cover skills. The best cornerback on the day was Stefan McClure. He was very quick and constantly stayed right on receivers. He’s an uncommitted prospect who is not being heavily recruited, but I expect that to change after the week he is having so far. That young man can flat out cover, at least so far.
At linebacker the one player who continues to standout is California native Colt Lyerla. Lyerla is a physical and athletic player who is all over the field. He was good again today in coverage, making at least one interception on the day. He also plays hard against the run. My only knock on him is he plays a bit out of control.
ORLANDO, Fla. - The Under Armour All-Americans are having their last day of practice before Wednesday night's game. Irish Sports Daily is on the scene to bring you updates from DaVaris Daniels, Ben Koyack, Savon Huggins, Amir Carlisle and more.
Click here to read the live blog.
SAN ANTONIO - Notre Dame commit George Atkinson (Livermore, Calif./Granada) is going to play wide receiver at Notre Dame. But the Granada star will be playing free safety during the Army All-American Bowl. Although his future and heart are on offense, he is enjoying his time down in San Antonio.
“It felt good,” said the four-star standout. “I’m just competing, learning the coverages and stuff like that. I’m just trying to fly around, reacting.”
Atkinson came to San Antonio to enjoy the atmosphere of the all-star game, but he has more in mind. “I plan on competing,” said the Livermore native. “I want to show the world that I can compete at the next level. I want to showcase my talents as best I can.
His skills were certainly on display during the West’s afternoon practice. Atkinson flew all over the field from his free safety position. He got his hands on a number of passes and showed great instincts in coverage. The rangy athlete also showed very good closing speed to the football.
Atkinson also talked about his reaction to Notre Dame’s 33-17 victory over Miami in the Sun Bowl. “I was hyped after the Miami game,” exclaimed Atkinson. “I thought it was going to be a close one, but how they rolled over them, it showed that (Brian) Kelly is there for business and to win games. I can’t wait to be a part of that and rebuild the tradition we got there.”
Notre Dame’s 20-16 win over Southern Cal also was huge for Atkinson. “A lot of people at my school and my teammates are SC fans,” explained the standout wide receiver. “That win helped me shut everybody up at my school who kept saying, ‘Why are you going there?’ It helped build that confidence and swagger that I am going to Notre Dame.
The comments by Atkinson have been echoed by every other Notre Dame commit that I have spoken with. It shows how important those victories were for the Irish as they continue to hit the recruiting trail. As for Atkinson, USC has been pushing to get him to visit, but he says that will visit probably won’t happen.
“They keep contacting me,” he explained. “I told them I would think about it over the break, but I’m solid with Notre Dame. There is nothing really to worry about.”
Atkinson, along with his brother Josh, led Granada High to an 8-5 record, as they advanced to the third round of the California state playoffs. Granada was 4-6, 4-6, and 3-7 during his first three years at the school. “That was huge,” Atkinson said of going out a winner. “It was a team that hadn’t been to the playoffs in Division I in like fifteen years. To end our season on a good note and go out a winner, hopefully Granada can build off that and keep the playoff streak going.”
His opportunity to play wide receiver will come very soon, as Atkinson will be playing with his brother Josh in the USA Award All-Star game in Texas. That game will be played on National Signing Day, and Atkinson will have his first chance to be a full-time wide receiver.
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