Blue and Gold Illustrated

April 2017

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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8 APRIL 2017 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY MATT JONES A year after Notre Dame sent 10 players to the NFL Combine and had seven players selected in the top four rounds of the NFL Draft, the school's crop of pro prospects was much slimmer in 2017. Only three Notre Dame players were invited to the league's annual scouting event Feb. 28 to March 6 in Indianapolis, led by quarterback DeShone Kizer. Defensive linemen Jarron Jones and Isaac Rochell also participated, though with much less fanfare. Kizer, who led the Irish to a 4-8 fin- ish in 2016, was nitpicked and ana- lyzed during his three-day stay at the combine. A two-year starter with the Irish, he is competing with Clem- son's Deshaun Watson and North Carolina's Mitch Trubisky to be the first passer drafted. Kizer asserted that he's the best quarterback available, and he's "absolutely" ready to be a day one starter in the NFL. "As a battle-ready guy, I've seen a lot," Kizer told reporters. "My short- coming as a Notre Dame quarter- back, only playing for two seasons, I've seen quite a bit. I was able to play in the snow. I was able to play in the rain. I was able to win games we were supposed to win. I was able to experience a not-so-good season. I've learned from it all, and all those experiences will prepare me to be able to play hopefully in that first game next season. "Playing at Notre Dame is the big- gest stage in college football, espe- cially being the quarterback there. Not only are you representing the 80,000 people that are in that sta- dium, but you're also representing the second biggest Catholic institu- tion in the world. That international fan base, there's a lot of responsibility for a quarterback. I was able to take that, own it and make it mine." Kizer appeared confident and com- posed during his media session. The native of Toledo, Ohio, measured in at 6-4¼, 233 pounds with 9 7 ⁄8-inch hands. In his 40-yard dash, Kizer ran a 4.83, ninth among the 12 quarter- backs who participated. Kizer finished eighth out of 13 in the vertical jump (30.5 inches); 11th out of 13 in the standing broad jump (107 inches); last out of 11 in the three-cone drill (7.4 seconds); and last out of 12 in the 20-yard shuttle (4.53 seconds). In his throwing drill, Kizer was oc- casionally erratic. Where he excelled and had scouts raving was with his arm strength — he is considered to have a stronger arm than the other top quarterbacks. But NFL scouts and draft analysts have trouble getting over his erratic 2016 season. "I look at him basically the way I look at the entire Notre Dame pro- gram last year," stated Tony Pauline, UNDER THE DOME BATTLE TESTED Three Notre Dame players participated in the NFL Combine Quarterback DeShone Kizer impressed scouts with his arm strength and also fared well in the interview process with some NFL teams while in Indianapolis. PHOTO BY RICK KIMBALL

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