NCF On The Trail: Alex Bars

Tuesday Under Armour Early Offerings 

December, 31, 2013
The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Tuesday's Early Offering is coming to you from the Under Armour All-America Game in Orlando. Here’s a sampling of some of the top news from the event so far, a look at who stood out in the second day of practices, and three-star athlete Isaiah McKenzie debates who the fastest player in the country really is.

As expected, Day 2 at the Under Armour All-America practices were smoother, more concise and much more productive. The players are now starting to think less and play more. Natural ability is starting to come to the forefront, which allows for them to be more productive. There have been fewer dropped passes, fewer misses by the QBs and the offensive lines are starting to jell quicker than expected. Perhaps the most impressive thing about this group is there have not been any true letdowns. They have stepped up and been as advertised almost top to bottom for both squads. Let’s hit the highlights of the day:

Top performers

WR Cameron Sims (Monroe, La./Ouachita Parish): Sims might not wow anyone with his 40-yard dash time, but it may not matter. Sims is so similar to Mike Evans at Texas A&M. He just makes plays. He has extremely long arms and is outstanding when in contested matchups. The ball will look like it is uncatchable and then next thing you know he jumps out of nowhere, extends and makes a play and the defender is left scratching his head. When it comes down to it, the QBs for Team Highlight can trust that if they need to throw it up, Sims will make a play. The most basic thing about the position is catching the football and Sims has no problem doing that.

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- One thing is for sure for all the 2014 Under Armour All-Americans: This isn’t high school anymore. Day 1 is about gauging the competition. Some guys dive right in and some test the waters with their big toe, but by the end of the first day of practice, all those in attendance have a pretty good idea of where they stand and what they need to do to compete and get better.

Given that it is Day 1, the playbook is introduced (Team Nitro is going no huddle with wrist bands and limited plays), and there can be sloppy moments of indecision and uncertainty. With each rep, most, if not all, prospects began to get a better feel for what is expected. Most importantly, the center-quarterback exchanges were very good for the most part, which is generally the biggest worry. Upon completion of the first practice, here are some observations and things to look for over the week:

Top Performers

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ESPN 300 TE Luatua picks Notre Dame

December, 16, 2013
With four tight ends making significant contributions to NFL rosters, Notre Dame is doing everything it can to chase down Stanford as the present day Tight End U.

The Fighting Irish took another step toward that goal on Monday, grabbing a commitment from ESPN 300 tight end Tyler Luatua (La Mirada, Calif./La Mirada).

[+] EnlargeTyler Luatua
Tom Hauck for Student SportsTyler Luatua, the No. 1 tight end in the ESPN 300, is a big commitment for Notre Dame.
Luatua, the nation's No. 76 overall prospect and No. 1 recruit at his position, whittled his choices down to Alabama and Notre Dame, before announcing for the Fighting Irish on Twitter on Monday morning.

Early on in his recruitment, Luatua was split between Alabama -- the school where his older brother, Isaac, attends and plays football -- and USC -- the hometown favorite. But even before the Trojans faded in their recruitment of Luatua, Notre Dame made a significant impression and grabbed virtually all of his attention. He took an official visit to see the Fighting Irish beat the Trojans in mid-October, and though he also attended Alabama's big recruiting weekend in early November, it wasn't enough to unseat Notre Dame, which built a solid relationship with the 6-foot-3, 243-pound tight end and had been his leader for a significant amount of time.

Luatua's commitment doesn't only give Notre Dame a big-time player at a position in which they continue to build strength, it's also another outstanding California prospect making their way to South Bend, Ind. In the 2013 class, Notre Dame was able to swoop in and grab four-star safety Max Redfield away from several Pac-12 programs. In 2014, Luatua joins four-star defensive tackle Matt Dickerson (San Mateo, Calif./Junipero Serra), who held offers from Oregon, UCLA, USC and Washington.

He joins a tight end group that is getting a significant influx of talent. Four-star tight end Nic Weishar (Chicago/Marist) is part of the 2014 class, and four-stars Mike Heuerman and Durham Smythe signed with Notre Dame in the 2013 class.

Luatua is commitment No. 23 for Notre Dame. He is the eighth ESPN 300 prospect and the 15th four-star commitment. He is also the No. 2 prospect in the class, behind only offensive tackle Alex Bars (Nashville, Tenn./Montgomery Bell Academy), who is ranked No. 51.

UA Game jersey tour: Alex Bars

November, 12, 2013

ESPN 300 offensive tackle Alex Bars (Nashville, Tenn./Montgomery Bell Academy) was presented his honorary game jersey for the 2014 Under Armour All-America High School Football Game during the American Family Insurance Selection Tour at Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville, Tenn., on Monday. The event was part of the three-month jersey tour for the UA game.

Bars, a Notre Dame commit, is one of 90 players who have been selected to compete in the seventh annual Under Armour All-America Game, a nationally televised competition spotlighting the country’s top high school seniors. The 2014 Under Armour All-America Game is set for 4 p.m. ET on Jan. 2 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., and will be televised on ESPN.

[+] EnlargeAlex Bars
Courtesy of IntersportNotre Dame offensive line commit Alex Bars is ranked as the No. 2 recruit in Tennessee.
“Thank you for selecting me as an Under Armour All-American,” Bars said. “I’m both honored and excited to be chosen. I would like to thank my classmates and the entire staff at MBA for their support. A special thanks to my coaches and my teammates -- y’all played an important role in helping me achieve my goals. I can’t imagine a better group of guys playing beside me. I would also like to thank my parents for the sacrifices and support, and providing me with everything I need to get here today. Lastly, when I wear this jersey in January, know that I will be representing not only myself but all of MBA."

Montgomery Bell Academy head coach Marty Euverard said Bars is a special player and an even better person.

“I would like to congratulate Alex and his mom and dad," Euverard said. "Hard work does pay off, and Alex is a special football player, but more than that I’ve just watched him over the last three years ... he’s just an incredible young man off the field. I’m really proud to coach him.”

For Bars, the chance to play on ESPN against the top players in the country put the Under Armour All-America Game over the top.

"It’s awesome (playing on ESPN). You can’t beat it," he said. "I can’t wait, it’s going to be really cool. I want to see how I play against the best. I’m going to be coached by NFL coaches, play against the best players, and should be real cool and a lot of fun.”

The 6-foot-6, 285-pound Bars is ranked the No. 51 overall prospect and No. 6 offensive tackle in the Class of 2014. He committed to Notre Dame over offers from Florida State, Georgia, Michigan, LSU and a host of others.
Some big-name schools got some great news on Sunday when Damien Mama (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) broke down his favorites.

The No. 3 offensive guard in the nation and 56th overall player in the ESPN 300, Mama has already scheduled two official visits and has Alabama, BYU, Florida, Notre Dame, Ohio State, UCLA, USC and Wisconsin among his top eight.

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Haubert: Bars has huge upside 

May, 17, 2013
Notre Dame loaded up on talented offensive linemen in its 2013 class. Friday, the Irish landed their fourth for 2014 with the addition of ESPN 150 prospect Alex Bars (Nashville, Tenn./Montgomery Bell).

Here's what our scouts think of Brian Kelly's latest pledge:

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Road-graders are typically huge in the deep South. However, there are some big men that college recruiters are chasing in the "northern" South: specifically Arkansas, Kentucky and Tennessee. Here are some big men to watch in the region:

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ESPN 150 targets: Penn State 

April, 18, 2013
With a relatively small 2014 class, the Nittany Lions' big board isn't brimming with talent in the ESPN 150. But there are still more than a half-dozen targets here -- including at least one recruit who has PSU near the top of his list.

Here are the ESPN 150 recruits whom PSU has offered:

1. CB Jabrill Peppers (Paramus, N.J./Paramus Catholic)
6-foot-1, 205 pounds
ESPN 150 rank: 2

Why PSU wants him: Where to begin? He's the top overall player on Penn State's big board for good reason. He boasts incredible top-end speed, can play offense or defense, and ESPN's scouts used the term "playmaker" three times in a brief scouting report to describe his talents. He could make an immediate impact in his first year.

Who else wants him: Just about everybody. He holds offers from the who's who in the college football world: Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Stanford, etc. It's hard to see any team turning down Peppers.

Odds PSU gets him: It's a big longshot. Peppers came away impressed during an unofficial visit in February, but his excitement with the Nittany Lions has died down considerably. PSU isn't one of his top schools at this point, and it would take a tremendous recruiting effort for the Lions to slide into his top 5 -- let alone persuade him enough to commit.

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ESPN 150 Targets: Michigan 

April, 18, 2013
Jabrill PeppersJared Shanker/ESPN.comA recent visit to Ann Arbor has vaulted Michigan to the top of the list for cornerback Jabrill Peppers, the No. 2 player in the ESPN 150.
With the release of the ESPN 150, here are a look at some key Michigan targets within the top list:

1. CB Jabrill Peppers (Paramus, N.J./Paramus Catholic)
6-foot-1, 205 pounds
ESPN 150 Rank: 2

Why Michigan wants him: Peppers would be a perfect fit for what Michigan wants at cornerback. He's tall, has length and would be versatile in Michigan's defense. Peppers is a bigger corner that can play zone or man-to-man, and would match up well with bigger receivers in the Big Ten.

Who else wants him: Ohio State, LSU and Stanford

Odds they get him: As of right now Michigan has a very good shot with Peppers. After his visit to Ann Arbor, Peppers vaulted Michigan to the top of his list along with Stanford and Ohio State. He plans on making it out to Stanford in July, but has not set a decision date yet. If he were making his decision today the Wolverines would likely be the choice.

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ESPN 150 targets: Florida 

April, 18, 2013
Lamont GaillardDerek Tyson/ESPNCoveted defensive tackle Lamont Gaillard is ranked No. 10 in the ESPN 150.

With the release of the ESPN 150 today, here are some of Florida's top targets on the list:

1. DT Lamont Gaillard (Fayetteville, N.C./Pine Forest)
6-foot-4, 300 pounds
ESPN 150 Rank: 10

Why they want him: In Gaillard's ESPN scouting report, the first sentence says it all: "Gaillard can create havoc in the heart of the trenches." That's exactly how Florida would like to use him in the middle of its multiple-set defense. He's big enough to play nose tackle in a 3-4 defense and quick enough to play the three-technique in a base 4-3 defense. Gaillard will be a prime candidate to help replace the loss of seniors Damien Jacobs and Dominique Easley.

Who else wants him: Georgia, Alabama, Florida State and Ohio State

Odds they get him: Florida and Georgia appear to be the teams to beat for Gaillard, so at this point there is a 50-50 chance he winds up with the Gators.

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Tennessee has huge junior day turnout 

March, 17, 2013
Tennessee's junior day consisted of burgers, inflatable play sets and Tennessee staffers welcoming prospects. The focus was clearly on family. Moreover, the event was about reconnecting with the region's top prospects.

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Alex Bars' list of scholarship offers is growing at an ever-accelerating pace.

Arkansas, LSU, Notre Dame and California are the latest schools to offer the offensive tackle from Nashville (Tenn.) Montgomery Bell, according to an email from Bars' father, Joe Bars.

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Alex Bars has another offer in hand 

January, 16, 2013
Alex Bars has another offer to consider.

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Watch List OL earns more interest 

December, 19, 2012
Alex Bars is taking a wait-and-see approach with Tennessee's new coaching staff. Still, the early impressions are good.

"I haven't looked into the new coaching staff very much yet at Tennessee," the ESPN Watch List offensive lineman from Nashville (Tenn.) Montgomery Bell said. "Interested to see how they do ... They seem to be on top of things already, though."

Bars is being recruited to Tennessee by tight ends coach Mark Elder. The recruiter knows the area well. He recruited Tennessee when he was a coach at Cincinnati and made a positive impression on several prospects in the state, especially those who reside in Memphis.

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