Story Poster
Notre Dame Football Recruiting

Up Next in DE Recruiting

May 24, 2018

Elite defensive end prospects don’t commit to Notre Dame on an annual basis. They seem to end up elsewhere far too often for a program that is constantly searching for individuals that can disrupt off the edge, but fails to land them on a consistent basis.

That’s exactly why NaNa Osafo-Mensah’s commitment is so important. There is reason to celebrate it because it's rare.

The only problem with it is that it can’t be only him. Notre Dame needs numbers at the position as well after signing only three edge players in the previous two classes (one has already transferred). There is a sense of urgency to add more than just NaNa. When you consider that another defensive end commitment for the Irish in 2019, Howard Cross, might end up as a better fit playing inside, it just amplifies the need for defensive ends even more.

The Notre Dame staff needs to add at least two more defensive end prospects in this class. They may even want to shoot for three given the potential for Cross to play elsewhere. The good news is that they have plenty of options to work with and they fit into four categories.

The Elite Prospects

The number of targets they are after in this category. It would be ideal to land another end that is in the same category as NaNa, but it’s not likely. The majority of the blue-chip prospects they offered early are focused on other programs.

The two exceptions are Colt Ellison (Texas) and Joshua Pakola (California). Ellison may not be considered elite by everyone, but I view him as one of the more advanced pass rushers in the class. He could step in and contribute right away in that area.

Many are athletically able to compete when they arrive to college, but few are technically ready. Ellison is the latter. Most assume that he was going to end up at TCU and that may still be the case. But he hasn’t made his decision yet.

Pakola is the highest ranked target left on the board at defensive end and I think he is a perfect fit for the Drop position. He’s not nearly as polished as Ellison, but he checks all of the boxes with his physical traits and has the potential to be dominant versus the run and pass.

This is the kind of thing that happens when someone tries to block him with a running back. He obliterates the back and still manages to keep his feet and knock down the throw.


It will be tough to pull him away from California and the Irish staff hopefully can persuade him to visit after this evaluation period is complete.

The Hybrid Prospects

These are the players who could end up being strong side ends, but it wouldn’t be shocking to see them settle in playing 3 technique defensive tackle down the road. That’s where Cross fits and landing another similar player wouldn’t be a bad thing.

Isaac Townsend (Colorado) is a 6’7” multi-sport athlete that is just scratching the surface as a football player. He is super long. Townsend needs to develop better recognition and play with more consistent leverage, but he flashes by converting to speed to power on film and could end up being massive once he fills out his frame.


Ty Robinson (Arizona) has more on his frame already so it’s not surprising that he overwhelms with his size (6’5” 250) and strength more often. When he plays low, he can be devastating even without not knowing how to use his length consistently. He can bend, he shows a natural feel for working against pressure as a pass rusher, and he can really move well for a kid his size.


The other prospect that fits in this group is Terrell Dawkins (North Carolina). They just offered him this week and the more film I watched, the more I liked him. He is the most similar to Cross in terms size, but isn’t as well-coached. He has some shock in his hands and can win with a great get off.


The Raw Prospects

While these next few prospects aren’t highly touted, but each has the potential to develop into impact players at the next level. Whether that happens or not is largely based on coaching and how much those players are willing to work to get better.

Josiah Miamen (Illinois) fits that 3-star value description in that he is probably a better tight end on offense than he is as a defensive end. That’s today, but likely not in the future. He doesn’t even know what he is doing on defense yet and you can still see the exciting athleticism like on this spin move.


He hasn’t figured out how to get into a proper stance or how to use his hands and there are still some exciting flashes where you can see how things may come together for him.

Mataio Soli (Georgia) is highly productive for his high school team, but he relies almost exclusively on twitch to get into the backfield like he does on this tackle for loss.


The twitch is great and I would never complain about a prospect that is quick. He just needs refinement in his game and he’s very thin. He's going to be a much different player once he gets into a college strength and conditioning program.

Shemar Pearl (Texas) reminds me of what Ade Ogundeji looked like as a junior on film. He has a ton of work to do to become an every down player at the college level, but man, are his good plays exciting to watch. It may take some time, but if he puts it all together, he’s going to be a beast.


The Nickel Rusher Prospects

There is a lot to like about Aeneas DiCosmo (New Jersey) as a prospect. He has a terrific motor and a good first step. He has great lateral quickness like he displayed on this pressure when the tackle set too far outside.


He’s just small right now and looks like he would be engulfed by offensive tackles at the point of attack. So he may not be an every down player early or maybe at all, but at the very least he could be a sub-package player that gets after the quarterback and that would make him a valuable player.

Bralen Trice (Arizona) is similar and is a better pass rusher at this time. He can turn the corner and finish like on this play below.


He can convert speed to power. He has a nice dip and can bend. It’s just about him being able to do the other things to be a complete player at end (or in the case of Notre Dame, Drop).

It would be best for Notre Dame to land a combination of these different types of edge prospects, but no matter what, they need to find at least a couple in any category. NaNa Osafo-Mensah is an outstanding football player with a bright future. He’s just going to need some help and hopefully a couple from this list can provide it.

subscribe Verify your student status
See Subscription Benefits
Trial only available to users who have never subscribed or participated in a previous trial.