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Notre Dame Football

Irish Could Have a Special 2023 D-line Class

April 2, 2022

Notre Dame has a chance to finish with the best defensive line classes in the country. That’s not a sentence I could have written and have it be truthful in recent years, despite some strong groups that were brought in by Keith Gilmore and Mike Elston.

But this cycle is different. They have laid the foundation with a freakish pass rush talent like Keon Keeley‍ and one of maybe the top defensive lineman in the Midwest in Brenan Vernon‍. They are in the process of fitting the pieces around them that could make this group truly special.

They checked off the Vyper part of the equation with Keeley. A massive need in this class after not taking a true Vyper in 2021, there is no better prospect for the position in the country than Keeley. They have to hold on to him and it’s likely they do, but they will still have options in addition to him.

It could be that Samuel M'Pemba‍ (4-star 94 grade), who Notre Dame is recruiting as a Rover, grows into a pure edge defender in college. Linebacker commit Preston Zinter‍ (4-star 90 grade) could also end up as a Vyper in the long term as well. As long as the Irish keep Keeley, though, it’s about as good as it can get at Vyper.

The other end spot is interesting because Vernon is someone I view as a future 3-tech defensive tackle. Two other big end targets, Boubacar Traore‍ (4-star 91 grade) and Jason Moore‍ (4-star 94 grade), are similar to Vernon where I could see both of them ending up inside eventually in college.

Does Notre Dame want to take three players who fit into the same category? That’s an important question and it seems like they would be happy with Vernon and one of those two.

Moore is the higher rated player by me and by just about everybody else. It’s because he’s longer and his tools are spectacular. He has the potential to develop a devastating long arm move as a pass rusher. Traore is a bit twitchier and has flashed a better ability to bend and wrap to the quarterback in my opinion. The ceiling for both of them is very high.


Another player that I’m extremely high on that could play Vyper or the opposite end is Desmond Umeozulu‍ (4-star 95 grade). I have him in the ISD Fab 50 (34th) and I see special pass rush traits. He’s someone I would love to see Notre Dame get on campus.


Let’s say the Irish do secure a commitment from one of those top prospects, that likely fills their need at end and with interior pass rushing. If they are looking at another interior player, defensive tackle Stephiylan Green‍ (4-star 92 grade) is someone who has shown flashes of dominance at the point of attack. It’s always difficult to pull a top defensive lineman out of Georgia, but we know that Al Washington and the staff aren’t going to back down from trying and Green plays with tremendous power.


The next part of it is nose tackle and Devan Houstan‍ (4-star 91 grade) looks like he is far and away the guy they’d love to land to play that spot. If he does end up in the class, it may mean that Notre Dame is done looking for nose tackles this cycle. I think they need to expand the board at nose tackle and perhaps that will be something they do in the May evaluation period. Even if they don’t and they end up with Houston and a combination of players who can play 3-tech, it still very much has the making of a fantastic group.

Things have been pretty good at defensive line. Things may be on their way to get even better if they close out this class in the way they expect to at the position. Men’s Camo UA Hoodie

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