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Notre Dame 2024 Defensive Line Class Is Just Getting Started

Notre Dame is off to a great start with the 2024 class, but the Irish staff still has several excellent prospects remaining on the board

Sitting in May of 2022, Notre Dame defensive line recruiting for the 2024 cycle has already reached a point of comfort. With commitments from West Bloomfield (Mich.) High School star Brandon Davis-Swain and Princeton (N.J.) The Hun School standout Owen Wafle already committed to the Irish, and the program already has the fortune of shooting for elite players to fill out the class. 

That is an especially good problem to have if you are Al Washington and the rest of the coaching staff. It is a compliment to the level of recruiting prowess on the staff to already secure those early commitments from both Davis-Swain and Wafle. Assessing the baseline can make the bigger picture clearer for the rest of the class. Davis-Swain was the first commit in the class, committing right after the Blue-Gold Game. 

The 6-4 240-pound defensive lineman was a huge victory out of the state of Michigan for Washington. Davis-Swain has an intriguing profile that could work either at big end or inside at three-technique - or both. He works on the interior a ton for Bloomfield, taking advantage of an offensive lineman with his combination of quick-twitch, flexibility, and explosiveness. There is legitimate potential as an interior pass rusher long-term.

Wafle also projects best inside long term despite playing the majority of the time on the edge for the Hun School. The 6-3, 270-pound defensive lineman profiles best to nose guard position in the Notre Dame attack style defense. He brings a low center of gravity, raw strength, and a dynamite first step which helps the New Jersey product create some easy penetration. 

That is a rock-solid start up front for the Irish but they aren’t done. With two to three spots still available, there are several talented defensive lineman on the board that the program has its sights set on. 

Here is a look at some early names to know for the Irish:

Elijah Rushing

The 6-5, 225-pound defensive end is the perfect fit into the Vyper role in Notre Dame’s defense. Ranking as the No. 7 overall player and No. 2 defensive end according to On3 in the 2024 recruiting class, Rushing has some massive upside at the position. He is a long and twitchy pass rusher who has the ability to win the outside track. Rushing also has a developing power profile to eventually offer more flashes as a speed to power converter. There is no limit to his profile in terms of rush variety. Rushing is the complete package as a pass rusher.

Nigel Smith

Smith is reminiscent of Jason Moore in the 2023 class, but may be even further along than what both players were as sophomores. With extraordinary power and length, the 6-5 260-pound defensive end is a headache to handle one on one. His power profile projects favorably on the outside or inside. When he gets ahead of steam, Smith is almost impossible to stop working off of the edge. His quickness and length is also a difficult task for blockers rushing from the interior. The Texas standout currently ranks as the No. 42 overall player and No. 5 defensive lineman in the 2024 cycle according to 247Sports, which may even be underrating him a bit as it stands. Smith’s upside is arguably as high as anyone in the cycle.

Justin Scott

Even with Wafle and Davis-Swain potentially fitting best inside, Scott brings an impressive athletic profile that is going to be hard to ignore. At 6-5 and 310 pounds, the early assumption would be that Scott is a nose guard only, moonlighting as an immovable object at the point of attack. That assumption severely undersells Scott’s athleticism. He is a big athlete with surprising speed to work in pursuit. The Illinois star currently sits as the No. 3 overall player and No. 1 defensive lineman in the 2024 class according to On3, holding five-star status on the platform. The team is currently selling three-technique as the ideal fit for Scott. Whether he ends up in that role or on the nose, Scott has special traits.

Jayshawn Ross

Notre Dame is keeping close tabs on Kansas City (Mo.) St. Pius X pass rusher Jayshawn Ross. The 6-4 220-pound athlete is an ideal fit into the vyper position in the Notre Dame defense. Doubling as a big-play wide receiver for St. Pius X, Ross is an incredible athlete with dynamic speed and absurd flexibility to win the outside track. There may not be a higher upside as a pure speed rusher than Ross in the class. He currently ranks as the No. 125 overall player and No. 12 edge in the cycle according to 247Sports. There is some rawness to his game with the school using his skills in so many different areas but the upside is immense. 

There are more names on the board that will continue to be pursued by the Irish staff, and there will be new names added in the coming months, but this gives you a good taste of the early top targets on the board for Notre Dame.

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