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Fort Wayne products impress Elston

Notre Dame defensive line coach Mike Elston was the featured speaker at the Notre Dame Club of Fort Wayne's golf outing and silent auction at Cherry Hill Golf Club on Tuesday.

And Elston, who handles recruiting in Indiana for the Irish, talked about two local products – Tony Springmann of Bishop Dwenger and Jaylon Smith of Bishop Luers – when he met with the media.

Elston praised Springmann's progress as the defensive lineman as he gets ready to start his junior season.

"Tony has done an excellent job," Elston said. "Tony exemplifies everything we are looking for on the field, off the field. He is just a great young man, a great student and he's going to be a fantastic football if he continues to develop the way he has."

Springmann, who didn't play as a freshman, has been used at every position on the defensive line and finished his sophomore season with 11 tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack.

Springmann's versatility is one of the things Notre Dame looks for in players, Elston said.

"That's why we like to recruit big players, big, tall, long players, who are athletic and fast that can do multiple jobs," Elston said. "Tony has played every single position for us across the front on the defensive line. He could even be an offensive lineman if need be. That's not what we need him for. He's got great flexibility, and he's an aggressive football player. That makes him a hot commodity."

Smith will be joining Notre Dame for his first season on June 17 when summer classes start, and Elston said the Irish are excited for the five-star recruit to join the program.

"What makes him a special player is how big and athletic and fast and aggressive he plays the game. He's a student of the game," Elston said. "The more impressive thing about him is as you walk through (Bishop Luers) how many people say great things about him and the type of young man he is, the type of student he is and just the ambassador he's going to be for Fort Wayne and eventually Notre Dame. We are very excited about his prospects. He comes from a wonderful family. He's got football running through the whole family, and he seems to be a young man that is excited about starting that career very soon."

Elston was asked to compare Smith to former Notre Dame star linebacker Manti Te'o, and the coach said he can see similarities between the linebackers, who both won the high school Butkus Award.

"I would say the immediate things that come to my mind in comparison to Manti is just very similar in size, very similar in skill set with his ability to do all the jobs," Elston said. "And there's some intangible things that Manti has, leadership and the ability to get his teammates to follow him, the ability to listen to the coaching, I think there are a lot of things that will carry over from what Manti has done and what Jaylon has the potential to do."