What's Next: Notre Dame Has Some Decisions To Make With Its Defensive End Recruiting

The commitment of defensive end Darren Agu has put Notre Dame into a situation where it must make some decisions on what to do next
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Notre Dame added its third defensive end commitment of the 2022 class yesterday when Rabun Gap (Ga.) Nacoochee athlete Darren Agu pledged to the Fighting Irish. Agu joined a class that already has St. Louis (Mo.) John Burroughs big man Tyson Ford and Chantilly (Va.) High School edge defender Aiden Gobaira.

Notre Dame only needed three ends in the 2022 class from a pure numbers standpoint, and the three edge players in the class are very talented. The addition of Agu to Ford and Gobaira means Notre Dame has three very intriguing options for how it can finish out the 2022 class at defensive line.

Let's look at those three options.

OPTION #1: TURN UP THE HEAT ON THE STUDS

Notre Dame still has a couple of extremely talented, high-upside defensive ends still on the board. Those two prospects would be Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman edge defender Cyrus Moss and Owings Mills (Md.) McDonogh big man Dani Dennis-Sutton.

With three prospects in the class the staff could choose to shut it down with everyone else at end and just focus on one, or both, of these two prospects. Moss is a long, extremely athletic edge player that also projects as a Vyper in the Irish defense, but he could also play some off-ball linebacker in certain looks. Dennis-Sutton is a pure end, and he has some tools that could allow the 6-6, 240-pound athlete to play both end positions.

It would make perfect sense for the staff to stay on these two prospects, and choosing a combination of this option and the third option would make a lot of sense. Numbers are getting tight in the class at the position, but some players are just too good to stop recruiting if they remain interested.

OPTION #2: KEEP LOADING UP

Notre Dame still has a number of talented ends on the board, but they aren't quite up to the same level as Moss and Dennis-Sutton, at least not in my view. The Irish could land at least one of those players if they kept pushing, and there's an argument to be made about the sort of "bird in the hand" type of recruiting push.

Boonville (Mo.) High School defensive end DJ Wesolak is very high on Notre Dame, and the staff has been high on Wesolak as well. I don't know how the staff grades Wesolak compared to Gobaira and Agu, but I grade both out higher than the Missouri standout. There's an argument to be made that he is good enough to keep pushing for, which would give the Irish four truly outstanding edge players.

The same argument could be made about Honolulu (Hawaii) Punahou edge defender Tevarua Tafiti, a player that has been high on the Irish board for some time.

The issue with this strategy, however, is that your numbers at the position start getting a bit high for one class, and it means that's one less edge player the staff can take in the 2023 class.

Ford claims to be up to 6-6 and 260 pounds, as a junior, so the staff could start to view him as an eventual three-technique, or at least versatile enough to play big end and three-technique. If that is the case they could take a defensive tackle spot away and use it for an edge player like Wesolak.

Speaking of that, it's also a reason the staff could continue pushing for Arlington (Texas) Martin edge defender Ernest "RJ" Cooper. Cooper is listed at 6-4 and 235 pounds, but he has a thick frame that could allow him to put on a lot of weight. In many ways he reminds me of former Irish standout Kapron Lewis-Moore, another Texan that was listed at just 225 pounds on a 6-4 frame when he signed with Notre Dame. Lewis-Moore, however, had a massive frame that is quite similar to Cooper, and by the time his ND career was over he weighed over 300 pounds.

Cooper recently announced a Top 5 that included Notre Dame.

If Notre Dame views Ford as an eventual defensive tackle it would make a lot of sense to keep pushing for Moss, Dennis-Sutton, Wesolak and possibly Cooper.

OPTION #3: SHUT IT DOWN, FOCUS ON DT AND 2023 EDGE PLAYERS

Option three is the one that I'm leaning towards right now, and that is shutting down 2022 defensive end recruiting and then focusing all the 2022 DL attention on Scottsdale (Ariz.) Chaparral defensive tackle Anthony Lucas.

Combine Lucas with the current group of ends and this is a truly elite defensive line haul. 

By shutting down DE recruiting the staff could pay even more attention to Lucas, but it would also give line coach Mike Elston an even bigger head start on 2023 recruiting than he already has.

Notre Dame has already offered over a dozen 2023 defensive ends, and it is an extremely talented group of players. It's a bit risky compared to just loading up on players that you've already built a connection with (Wesolak, Tafiti, Cooper), but there are some elite prospects in the 2023 class.

If Notre Dame loads up in 2022 with more ends it means the staff will have to take fewer players in 2023. While it might be the safer decision to do that, the upside of some of the 2023 prospects is worth taking a major swing at.

If you like watching film take the time this weekend to watch 2023 ends Chandavian Bradley, Vic Burley, Keon Keeley, Derrick LeBlanc, Sam M'Pemba, Jalen Thompson and Jayden Wayne.

Related Content

Darren Agu Commits To Notre Dame

Class Impact: DE Darren Agu To Notre Dame

Notre Dame 2022 Scholarship Offers

Notre Dame 2022 Class Big Board

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