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Notre Dame Football Recruiting

2020 CO DT Aiden Keanaaina: “I love to be in the trenches"

May 24, 2018

2020 J.K. Mullen (Colo.) defensive tackle Aidan Keanaaina‍ won’t forget May 22nd for quite some time as he pulled in offers from Notre Dame and Ohio State. 

The 6-foot-3, 292-pounder had been in contact with Notre Dame over the spring and was thrilled to get some good news from defensive line coach Mike Elston.  

“My coach got me in contact with Coach (Larry) Black, the defensive line GA,” Keanaaina told Irish Sports Daily. “I’ve been talking with him every week or so and having a normal conversation. We've had a chance to get to know each other. 

“I called him again, and he asked me what I thought of Notre Dame if I would go there. The last time I called him, he told me to call the defensive line coach. I gave Coach Elston a call, and he offered me.” 

Keanaaina isn’t a stranger to offers as he holds offers from BYU, Cal, Colorado, Kansas State, Nebraska, Oregon, Penn State, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin, but the offer from the Irish meant a lot to him and his family. 

“It was amazing,” stated Keanaaina. “I was so happy to hear I had an offer from Notre Dame. My dad has always loved Notre Dame, and I’ve always known about Notre Dame from movies and with how great the program has been. 

“I also knew they had a great educational program, so it was awesome to get an offer. It’s amazing two of the best programs in the country offered me to go to school there for free. I’ve never felt this way before, to be honest.” 

Not only was Keanaaina’s father fired up, but he was extremely proud of his son. His mother also noticed her son was a little happier than usual.

“He was very happy,” said Keanaaina. “He was excited to hear it because I had just got an offer from Ohio State. He was happy that two of his favorite schools offered me. He was really proud.

“It’s an extraordinary experience. It made me feel amazing. I was in a great mood on Tuesday. I was smiling all day. My mom even asked why I was in such a good mood. 

Keanaaina has taken several college visits already, so the Colorado native has a good idea of exactly what he’s looking for in his future school. 

“I look for three things in a school,” explained Keanaaina. “The first is the academic program. What do they have to offer? What programs can I take? What can I major in? How rigorous are the courses? 

“The second thing I look for is the football program. I want to see the facilities, the coaches and the mentality when it comes to football. I want to see how they handle their business with the players and the schedule. 

“The final thing I look for is the community life at the college. Could I go there and not play football and enjoy my time in college? What are the students like? What is the town like? I want to see what the fans are like too.” 

The Keanaaina family will now start to make some summer visits, and Columbus and South Bend are likely destinations. 

“We’re definitely going to try to get to Notre Dame and Ohio State,” Keanaaina said. “We’re planning out dates and flights right now to see if we can get out there and hit a few schools in that area.” 

Keanaaina's early offers have come because of the nasty player he is on the field. The J.K. Mullen standout embraces contact and doing the things needed to be a successful defensive lineman. 

“I love to be in the trenches,” said Keanaaina. “I love doing the dirty work and going against those big offensive linemen. I like stopping the run and getting a pass rush. 

“I think I need to work on my speed and all of my technique. My technique can always be improved, and that’s what I’m working on this summer. I want to get stronger, faster and perfecting my technique to where I do reps a hundred times over until I’m satisfied with the results.” 

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