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January 2, 2014

They Will: Next step for Irish commits

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Andrew Trumbetti had never been tested like this.

Later this month the defensive end from Demarest, N.J., will show up on the Notre Dame campus to begin his college career with a better perspective of what it will take to succeed at the highest level as a result. He can thank his week preparing for the Under Armour All-America Game for that.

“It definitely humbled me a lot because everyone is just as good or better than you,” Trumbetti said. “That was probably the best part of the week. I know I have to go back home and have a lot to work on. I have a lot to get better at.”

Trumbetti succeeding in showing off his speed and athleticism, winning the lineman skills challenge along the way.

But adding more pass rushing moves and doing better work with his hands to counteract the punch and length of opposing offensive linemen is something the 6-foot-5, 249-pound prospect plans to work on in short order.

“I need to use my hands better,” Trumbetti said. “I’m fast off the ball and I have a lot of power also but I need better moves against offensive linemen. I need to work on my run blocks too. I’ve got to stay low. Everything. I’ve just got to improve a lot.”

Trumbetti took those lessons to the turf at Tropicana Field on Thursday hoping to impress.

He covered the opening kickoff for Team Nitro and suffered a minor injury, limiting his action in a 31-21 Team Highlight win. Despite not contributing much to the final result, Trumbetti felt like the hype of being an Under Armour All-American lived up to expectations.

“It was awesome,” he said. “I had a great time. On the opening kickoff I pulled my groin. It was the worst luck I probably could’ve ever had. It was bothering me all game, so I didn’t play that much. When I did, I did alright. It was bothering me a lot.”

Walking into the tunnel marked the end of a successful high school career.

Trumbetti fielded offers from Boston College, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Maryland, Miami, Michigan State, Penn State, Purdue, Rutgers, Stanford and Virginia, among others, before making a commitment to Notre Dame back in March.

Now the next step awaits.

“I want to play as a freshman,” Trumbetti said. “I want to get on the field. I wanna get better at everything I do. Get better every day. That’s it.”

Mustipher bounces back

Four-star offensive guard Sam Mustipher arrived in Florida this week looking to bounce back from an up-and-down summer.

Mustipher participated in the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge presented by Under Armour with mixed results and relished the opportunity to prove himself again on the national stage. There was one notable difference.

“Pads,” Mustipher said. “I love having pads on. When I put my helmet on and strap up shoulder pads I feel like a completely different person. You can do what you want to in shorts and a t-shirt but ultimately it comes down to the game of football, which is played in pads.”

Team Nitro used Mustipher at right guard throughout the week. He joined fellow commitments Alex Bars, Nick Watkins, Corey Holmes and Trumbetti on the squad.

Tight end commitment Tyler Luatua played for Team Highlight.

Bars started at left tackle in the game and Mustipher came in as a substitute.

“It was very physical,” Mustipher said. “The most physical football I’ve ever played. A lot of these guys are out here with something to prove as well as I am. It was a very physical week but it was a great litmus test to what I’m gonna be headed to up in South Bend.”

McKenzie nearly returns one

Whether wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie will end up in the Notre Dame recruiting class remains to be seen.

One thing not in doubt is his ability as a playmaker despite checking in at less than six feet tall. McKenzie played slot receiver and took some carries in the backfield for Nitro throughout the week. During the game he registered four carries for 24 yards.

In the return game McKenzie took three punts a total of 28 yards, including a long of 25. He returned one kickoff for 75 yards. McKenzie thought for a moment he might have scored.

“At first I looked in the middle,” McKenzie said. “I seen that it was closing up. The closer I got it closed up. I stopped, turned around and went down the left side and it was open there. A person made a good block on the kicker and I took it around the corner.”

McKenzie wanted to improve his stock against top competition and felt like it was mission accomplished in that regard.

“This whole week I felt like I showed what I had to show them,” McKenzie said. “Even though I’m small I can do it. I can play around the field, play any position. I can do it with All-Americans. In the game I showed I am the best returner in the country. I’m gonna continue to progress. I just wanted to show them what I had.”





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