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Notre Dame Football

Post-Spring Position Outlook | Defensive End

May 26, 2021

In the last two offseasons Notre Dame has lost four NFL Draft picks at defensive end and that could have been an issue in 2021.

Could have felt like the correct way to put it because the Irish look in a much better position with their edge defenders than they did a couple of months ago. It all started with sliding one defender outside and it appears like the move could be a good one for the team and individual.

Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa started at 3-technique defensive tackle the last two seasons and was very good there this past fall. The uncertainty at End and the depth inside made it an option for him to move.

He shed some weight and looked twitchy with his first step. He kept showing up on highlights with his mixture of pass rush moves that he used to pressure the quarterback and it was natural to move him back inside in sub-packages.

Competing with him is Justin Ademilola and there is no doubt he’ll be a fixture in the rotation again. The question coming into spring was going to be whether or not he was good enough to be the starter and play a lot more snaps in 2021. The answer may be yes to both, but it doesn’t have to be after MTA moved.

They call that a good problem to have and Ademilola should continue to push at the big end.

NaNa Osafo-Mensah is a much bigger player than when we last saw him and Brian Kelly even mentioned that he had gotten some work inside as well as out. We only saw him work at End in the Blue-Gold game. It’s going to be difficult to earn snaps consistently, but if he had some flashes as a pass rusher that will only help his cause.

It’s likely going to be a battle between him and Alex Ehrensberger to get a regular spot in the rotation. Ehrensberger is also someone that we saw work inside at times in the video sent out by Notre Dame.

We can’t say anything about what he does from snap to snap because we haven’t seen enough of them to truly evaluate how close he is to being a factor. In saying that, when someone shows up with a sack and knocks down a pass in the spring game, the coaches will take notice.

Even if he wasn’t all caps RAW, Jason Onye would still be in line for a redshirt season because of the players in front of him. He’s an enigma because of his lack of football experience and it’s likely he will take some time to get into the mix at Notre Dame.

Isaiah Foskey would have seemed like a lock to secure the starting Vyper spot, but Jordan Botelho is right there with him competing.

Mark this down again as another one of those good problems, similar to what Notre Dame had with Julian Okwara and Daelin Hayes.

Foskey didn’t get as much pressure in the Blue-Gold game as Botelho, but Foskey also had a tougher matchup. He has all of the physical tools in the world to be an elite edge rusher and if he can develop his hands and consistently attack “half a man”, he could become a dominant factor.

Botelho looked like he is close to making the leap and it’s obvious that he has that extra in his game that not many defenders have. He’s still young so he’s not going to be perfect with every aspect of his play, but he may just make up for it with splash plays.

Osita Ekwonu was moved to Vyper from linebacker and it made sense. The depth chart at linebacker was crowded and losing Ovie Oghoufo left an opportunity for Ekwonu as a pass rusher.

The best thing I can say about Ekwonu is that he opened my eyes setting the edge against Josh Lugg in the run game and if he can do that and take steps as a pass rusher, getting involved in the rotation might not be far-fetched.

Devin Aupiu and Will Schweitzer were the early enrollees on campus at the position. Schweitzer had surgery and was out for the spring, but Aupiu certainly looked the part as an athlete in the brief times we saw him. Chances are that both won’t play this season unless it’s on special teams, but we’ll see if that extra practice time can help propel Aupiu to more reps in fall camp.

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