BREAKING | 2020 Four-Star DT Aidan Keanaaina Commits To Notre Dame

February 13, 2019

2020 J.K. Mullen (Colo.) defensive tackle Aidan Keanaaina‍ surprised many by setting an early commitment date and on Wednesday the four-star prospect committed to Notre Dame. 

The 6-foot-3, 295-pounder chose the Irish over Colorado, Colorado State, Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio State, Oregon, Penn State, UCLA, USC, Utah, Wisconsin and Yale. 

Keanaaina was at peace with his decision and knew Notre Dame was the right one for quite some time. 

“Now that I’ve experienced the colleges I’m interested in, I looked at in-depth in what I’m looking for,” Keanaaina told Irish Sports Daily. “The athletics are amazing and the academics are amazing. I was looking for an environment. If everyone around me isn’t working hard or to the highest potential, then it’s going to make me not work. That’s just how it is.” 

The culture at Notre Dame won the massive defensive linemen over and it wasn’t just the work ethic on the field. Keanaaina carries over a 4.0 GPA, so the opportunities in the classroom were also a major positive in his eyes. 

“The environment you’re in is going to affect your work ethic,” stated Keanaaina. “I wanted to be at a place where you can excel on the field, in the classroom and in a great culture.” 

The J.K. Mullen star will only take one official visit and that will be to Notre Dame. 

“A lot of people have asked why I’m only taking one official,” explained Keanaaina. “My answer is if I’m basing my decision off of an official visit, then that’s really not what the school is to me. When you go to a college, it’s not all about the praise and everything you get on the official visit. 

“It’s going to be hard work, grinding and you’re going to wake up early. I don’t want to make my decision off of the fun part. I want to know I’m going to a school and know I’m going to be treated well on my one official visit. I’ll have fun on the visit but also know that’s not going to be what it’s really like.” 

Notre Dame defensive line coach Mike Elston was also a significant reason for Keanaaina’s early decision as the two built a strong relationship and really hit off on two unofficial visits. 

“Coach Elston told me Notre Dame is a great place and they are a great unit,” said Keanaaina following a visit. “If I wanted to be part of it, he believed I was a great fit, and they want me at Notre Dame. He said I was just what they needed and Notre Dame is what I need.”

However, there might not have been a better selling pitch than what Keanaaina saw on the field during the Stanford game. Defensive tackle Jerry Tillery finished the night with four sacks and it left a lasting impression as Elston had highlighted Tillery to the Colorado native before the game. 

“It showed his coaching really shows on the field,” Keanaaina said following the Stanford game. “He talked to me about him and how they train different moves. I was watching Tillery do some of the moves Coach Elston taught. It was great watching it because I understand how they learned it and you could see it translate to the game.

“Coach Elston must be doing something right with his defensive linemen.”

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