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Notre Dame Football

Jordan Botelho Ready to Shine for Notre Dame

April 12, 2023


It’s never been a question mark for Notre Dame vyper Jordan Botelho as the 6-foot-2, 255-pounder has one of the highest motors in the Irish program if not college football. 

The Hawaii native is looking to earn the starting job at vyper this spring with Isaiah Foskey off to the NFL and Notre Dame in need of pressure off the edge. 

Botelho has been patient and waited his time for this moment and now he’s focused on eliminating errors while demonstrating his relentless pursuit to the football. 

“By how many errors I’ve made,” Botelho said when asked how he measures a good practice. “Hopefully, I didn’t make any and that’ll be a good day. And also by my effort and running to the ball.”

Yes, football is about aggression, but too much can hurt players. Bo Bauer was in a similar situation early in his career and had to dial back his emotions to become a more productive player. 

Botelho has done the same, but don’t think he’s become soft. 

“I feel like that's the mentality that we have back home in Hawaii,” stated Botelho. “We have a chip on our shoulders and we just wanted to carry it with us. We like pride and passion. I would say I’m a very passionate football player.”

Botelho played 252 snaps on defense over the last two seasons and has flashed more than once. In fact, Botelho has been quite productive as he’s tallied 9.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks in the last two years while playing multiple positions. 

He’s settled into vyper and it’s a position that fits his skillset, but also allows defensive coordinator Al Golden to use Botelho as a chess piece on third down with a knowledge of other roles. 

“I really don't care what position I play,” explained Botelho. “I just really love the game of football. So, if I’m on the field, that's great. I would play any position coach tells me to play. But I feel like playing rover gave me a better understanding of coverage. It’s almost like a vyper but with a little bit more coverage. I feel like playing different positions makes you a well-rounded football player.”

The bonus of vyper is Botelho played the position in high school where he was a menace off the edge. Yet, there is comfort there and allows him to do what he’s best at: rush the quarterback. 

“I really like it because I'm playing almost like the same position as [I was at] my high school, outside linebacker,” Botelho said. “I may drop a little bit too, so I think it’s good to be able to do both. I gained a little weight, so I'll be able to stay up with the tackles a little bit, set the edge a little better.”

Notre Dame defensive line coach Al Washington agrees that Botelho playing a couple different positions has allowed his game to grow physically and mentally. 

“Here’s the deal, the vyper position, historically, when you look at defenses, that is a guy that has linebacker traits because of what you can do with him,” Washington explained. “JB is a great example: he was a Rover at one point, he was a linebacker, now he’s in that deal. Junior, same deal. Josh Burnham, same deal.

“That ability to play off the ball and be comfortable is really really important. It speaks to what you want to be able to do. We have packages where we have true, four-down linemen. We do that too. But I think that position historically has been a guy that has traits off the ball as well as on the ball. The more comfortable that guy is off the ball the more you can do.” 

(If you forgot what Botelho did at St. Louis High School, here’s a refresher) 

There have been growing pains since his arrival in South Bend, including leaving the program for a short time before his freshman season. 

The time back in Hawaii allowed Botelho to regroup and figure out if he truly wanted to be at Notre Dame, which isn’t the easiest transition for any student-athlete. 

“It was a great learning experience,” explained Botelho. “I got sent home, but it was a great opportunity for me too because my coach back home, Mike Lafaele, I was just training with him. I was getting stronger, working on pass rush. When I came back, I learned a lot from being back home and I felt like I was more ready to come back and be a college football player.”

Botelho also has another driving force in his life when he hits adversity. 

His mother. 

“I would say my mom's a great example,” explained Botelho. “She works very hard and I know she has many setbacks too, but she just kept going. She's done a great job, so I kind of modeled myself after her and just try my best and never give up. Like I said, I feel like everything you go through just helps you to become a man every day.”

And yes, there were times Botelho thought about leaving, but his mother challenged him to stay and now he couldn’t be more grateful. 

“I want to say yeah, but you just have to go through things so you can learn from it,” Botelho said when asked if thought about potentially leaving. “I'm happy I stayed. It builds character.”

Special teams has been an outlet for Botelho over his first three seasons as he’s not only made big hits, but he’s been a part of several game-changing plays. 

In just his second game, Botelho blocked a punt and then recovered a blocked punt for a touchdown in the 52-0 win over South Florida. And who could forget the blocked punt against Clemson last fall that resulted in a Prince Kollie touchdown. 

“I just love football,” said Botelho. “I just want to play, so no matter what position, like I said, I’m just going to try my best at it, really.”

That passion was on full display in the Gator Bowl in December as Foskey opted out of the game and Botelho put on a show with two sacks in Notre Dame’s win. 

“The Gator Bowl, that was a really fun game,” Botelho said. “It was a great experience. I got to start and I just had a great time playing. Like it was really unbelievable to see all the South Carolina fans. We were running into enemy territory. It was like us against everybody. It was really fun.”

It’s now time for Botelho to seize the opportunity waiting for him and Washington has seen him take the right steps this spring. 

“Jordan just has to take care of Jordan,” explained Washington. “Take care of his business. Take care of his body. Take care of the things that are important to him. Keep the main thing the main thing, and everything else will take care of itself.

“He’s a great kid, he works his tail off, he really cares and he’s really matured and really made a point to go for it. He could’ve went any other way but forward with it and he decided to go forward with it. JB’s thing is him taking care of his business because the kids love him and I certainly love him. He’s a joy to work with and he’s progressing, man. He’s turning into an every down guy, not just a third down guy. That’s the goal and I think he’s becoming that.” 

What can Notre Dame fans expect from No. 12 this fall? The answer is simple for Botelho. 

“That I’m under control,” said Botelho. “Play hard. Focused. And a team player.”

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