long before the days of the Internet highlight tapes available for seemingly every recruit out there
I still enjoy watching these highlight tapes
to be clear, I am no expert-I don't 'evaluate'- simply watch and enjoy
In 1978, I was attending a Notre Dame Club function-a 'kickoff' for the coming Irish football season
The guest speaker was new ND RB coach Jim Gruden (yes, the father of 'It's Gruden';)
Gruden brought some film along to the event: the obligatory 1977 ND National Championship highlights and something else...film highlights of an incoming frosh RB recruit Bernie Adell from Ipswich,MA
I had never seen anything like Adell's film before(guess I hadn't watch much HS football 'film' before that night)
The film showed Adell running for tds over, and over, and over, and over again(all for 50yds +)....some were sensational runs, some Bernie just ran around end and no one laid a hand on him!
Very impressive-at least to me(looked like a future superstar).
Adell's HS film is still my favorite-even after watching all the HS tapes of other soon to be Irish running backs since then
After the lights went back on Gruden mentioned the number of td runs that Adell had in his HS career- and how well over half were 50 yds +(sorry don't remember the exact number....but looking up the details in my trusty '78 ND guide-Adell gained 4,800 yds and had 4 games over 200 yds + 19 more 100 yd games in his HS career)
Then, just to add to excite us old ND Alums a little more, Gruden mentioned that in addition to Adell, ND had recruited 3 Parade AA running backs(Note: being named a Parade AAs was a very big deal back then):
Dave Berry from Iowa, Pete Buchanan from Plymouth, Ind(the top fullback recruit in the country) and Bob Weigle from Sacramento(at least my memory is that Gruden said the 3rd was Weigle...turns out the 3rd was really Steve Cichy from North Dakota)
And, just to add to the list, Gruden mentioned a HB named Tony Belden from Minnesota who had gained 100 yds in 20 of the 22 games he had played in! Gruden said Belden was going to play Fullback at ND,
An amazing haul
really only had one decent game with the Irish-in his soph season he gained 79 yds on 10 carries vs Michigan St.
Adell had the misfortune of entering ND when Irish RBs Vagas Ferguson still had 2 yrs of eligibility left/Jim Stone 3 seasons left and in the next class after Bernie came TB Phil Carter(then Greg Bell the next). That's a lot of competition to overcome.
Missed his frosh season with a wrist injury. Came back the next season and was converted to Safety. The Parade AA never did play a down for the Irish- but graduated. Berry died in 2006.
The non-Parade AA did actually make some HS All American teams(just not Parade) & was the all-time leading rusher in Northern California history when he showed up at ND. He stayed a year(I think) and transferred to CAL
Weigle never carried the ball for ND(not even on the JV-the Irish cancelled the '78 Junior Varsity season due to lack of healthy players to form a squad...the next season the Irish cancelled 5 out of 6 scheduled games for the same reason)
who broke all of Roger Maris' old rushing records at Shanley High in Fargo, played Safety at ND
played more minutes than any Irish frosh that '78 season (scoring tds vs Tennessee, USC and in the Cotton Bowl). But Buchanan broke his ankle after that and never was the same-ending his career as the blocking TE in 2 tight end sets IIRC
Gruden clearly had designs on Tony playing fullback, but LB Coach George Kelly had designs on Belden at Linebacker. Belden was a LB throughout his ND career
The only 1978 frosh TB to actually see varsity action that '78 season was Ty Barber from Washington DC(Gruden never brought up his name during his speech to the ND Club)