Notre Dame Football Recruiting: Future Irish Players to Watch This Weekend

Brian LeighFeatured ColumnistJanuary 4, 2013

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 24:  Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly looks on during the game against the USC Trojans at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 24, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

The Under Armour All-American Game kicks off early Friday evening, with the U.S. Army All-American Game following suit on Saturday afternoon. That, combined with the dearth of college football games, ostensibly makes this the biggest weekend of the year for blue-chip high schoolers.

Notre Dame fans surely have enough on their minds right now, with only three days separating them from a chance at the National Championship. The sane Irish supporter would divert focus from next year for as long as possible and maybe check what happened in the All-American games on Tuesday.

But the sane Irish supporter is the Irish supporter I've never met. Notre Dame Nation loves their team with more deranged intensity than any school in the country. There's no way they won't be watching tomorrow's stars this weekend.

Here are four in particular to keep an eye on:

OLB Jaylon Smith

Game: U.S. Army All-American Game

Smith is a tall, built, college-ready athlete who can come in and contribute from Day 1. He's regarded as one of the most athletic players in the county, regardless of position, and someone who can come in and change a program.

Smith is the ninth-overall recruit in's rankings, and the fourth-highest-rated participant in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

RB Greg Bryant

Game: U.S. Army All-American Game

Bryant joins Alabama-commit Derrick Henry in the East squad's backfield before they depart to join this year's National Championship participants.

The No. 2 running back and No. 27 overall player in's rankings, Bryant is built like a power back but plays like an escape artist.

His combination of size, bulk and elusiveness could make him a future stalwart in the Irish running game.

ATH Tarean Folston

Game: Under Armour All-American Game

Expected to play running back at Notre Dame, Folston could provide the lightning to Bryant's pseudo-thunder.

Standing only 5'9'', scouts have questioned Folston's ability to stay on the field for three downs. But nobody has questioned his explosive ability to produce on the downs he can handle.

Also a talented defensive back, his agility and ball skills could eventually lead to a future on that side of the ball. But for now, he's poised to become a home-run threat out of the backfield.

OLB Alex Anzalone

Game: Under Armour All-American Game

Neither set is playing in the same All-American game, but Notre Dame is bringing in a duo of talented...well, duos.

Anzalone will join Jaylon Smith in the Irish's freshman linebacker core, and while his upside isn't as high, he's also viewed as an instant-impact player.

He needs to add a little bit of bulk, but he has a great center of gravity and even better instincts for the game. He could settle in opposite Smith and give Notre Dame bookend 'backers to build around.