What's Next: Defensive End Recruiting In 2021
Now that Notre Dame secured the commitment of Mansfield (Texas) Legacy star David Abiara, the Irish coaching staff must make a decision. With numbers in the class expected to yet again be on the small side, does Notre Dame push for one more end, or will it go for two?
There are two clear targets that would make perfect sense for Notre Dame if it wanted to end up with three total ends, and the next man in line is also clear.
The following players have long since been linked to the Irish. Here are the two players that Irish Breakdown believes should be considered the best bets to join Abiara along the defensive trenches.
Jason Onye, Warwick (R.I.) Bishop Hendricken
Onye is clearly the top remaining end on the board for Notre Dame, and if the Irish decide to take just one more end do not be surprised if he is that player.
Onye is an up-and-coming prospect that has great length and upside. His ability to bend and change direction would make him the perfect high ceiling recruit. Notre Dame has done really well with this type of young man during the past four seasons. Julian Okwara and Adetokunbo Ogundeji being two prime examples Notre Dame defensive line coach Mike Elston helped turn in legit NFL prospects after beginning their careers as talented, but raw young prospects.
With Onye’s quickness and length, his recruitment will grow. Michigan and Penn State are amongst the programs to watch, but he’s considered to be a strong Notre Dame lean at this point.
The question begs to be answered, if Onye committed, would the Irish still take another defensive end? If things continue to trend the way they are now, Abiara and Onye will eventually be in the class together. Would that shut things down, or would another edge player be welcome into the class.
We don’t yet know what Notre Dame would do, but Irish Breakdown publisher Bryan Driskell and myself both feel a third edge player in this class would be warranted, especially if it is Windsor (Conn.) Suffield Academy defensive end Kechaun Bennett.
The nation’s No. 245 overall player according to Rivals, Bennett is a twitchy edge defender that could play linebacker in college if he was so inclined, but he might be better served to rush the passer and play defensive end or by a hybrid linebacker/defensive end.
The Irish utilize a hybrid linebacker (Vyper), and that position occasionally requires a player to cover the flat or run with a running back or tight end. Bennett’s skills will certainly allow him to do either. He’s very athletic.
As for Bennett’s recruitment, Notre Dame and Michigan were two of the schools that were going to receive unofficial visits from Bennett prior to COVID-19 wrecking the world’s travel plans and social activity. Will the Irish and Wolverines still be important stops for the Connecticut prospect after travel plans can be made again?
One thing is for sure, Bennett’s athleticism and position versatility could help him be a priority for Notre Dame and other programs even if the Irish land a second defensive end. Bennett is a heck of a football player; hard to turn down talented players like him if he decided on Notre Dame. In theory, Bennett’s athletic enough to be converted to a hybrid tight end. Just a talented playmaker.