The Notre Dame coaching staff has been busy the last few weeks closing down the 2017 recruiting class and securing commitment after commitment for the class off 2018. They have also been busy on the graduate transfer route. Last weekend Notre Dame secured Michigan grad transfer wide receiver Freddy Canteen. This weekend there are reports that Notre Dame is interested in Clemson DT graduate transfer Scott Pagano – one of the most sought after “free agents” on the market.
Scott Pagano just announced on Friday that he will be seeking a graduate transfer for the 2017 season, but according to 247Sports, he already has already been contacted by 32 programs as of Saturday morning. One of those programs is reportedly Notre Dame according to Ryan Bartow’s report.
Now, before anyone gets too excited, Notre Dame is one of 32 programs to contact Pagano and at this point, there is nothing that has suggested any mutual interest. That said, this makes a TON of sense for Notre Dame and potentially Pagano as well.
Aside from the whole benefit of adding a defensive tackle from a program like Clemson, Notre Dame could be in need of help on the interior of the defensive line more so than normal this year. The future of Daniel Cage still remains very much in doubt given his past history of concussions that caused him to miss the end of the 2016 season. Much like Corey Robinson a year ago at this time, there is the chance that those concussion problems could cut his career short. Cage can still very much return to action, but that is not 100% certainty at this point.
Should Notre Dame lose Cage, a player like Scott Pagano could step in at Notre Dame and start immediately from day one. Considering Pagano is already considered a top 10 DT prospect for the 2018 NFL Draft, he most likely is looking for a program where he knows he can start from day one and enhance that draft stock. Even with Cage returning, that opportunity exists at Notre Dame.
In 2016 Pagano started four games for Clemson while playing in 12. In those appearances he picked up 4.5 tackles for loss and 2 sacks. He has already graduated from Clemson and will have one year of eligibility where he goes. Pagano will reportedly look to enroll somewhere in May.
Scott Pagano was a composite 4-star recruit out of Honolulu four years ago and did have an offer from Notre Dame at the time. A lot has changed at Notre Dame since then – most recently of note is the addition of Notre Dame’s ace Hawaii recruiter Brian Polian. Polian already added one big time defensive tackle from Hawaii to the Irish roster when he helped secure the signature of “Lord” Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa (trademark pending on the nickname).
On National Signing Day Brian Kelly said that Notre Dame wasn’t done adding players to its roster for the 2017 season in reference to adding graduate transfers. At the time Kelly had said Notre Dame had put aside at least one scholarship for a graduate transfer but that they could have two depending on how things went.
Notre Dame used one of those two scholarships last week on speedy wide receiver Freedy Canteen from Michigan. If they are able to add Pagano to the 2016 roster it would be arguably the biggest graduate transfer Notre Dame has ever had. Pagano has the ability to step in and start from day one and be a disruptive force in Mike Elko’s new Irish defense.
While Notre Dame and programs throughout the country have already expressed interest, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said yesterday in a release that he felt Pagano wanted to play his final season on the west coast to be closer to family. That hasn’t stopped elite programs around the country from reaching out and it shouldn’t stop Notre Dame either.
Notre Dame has had good success recruiting Hawaiian prospects while Brian Polian has been on the coaching staff. This one might be a tough sell for Polian and head coach Brian Kelly, but hell, no one thought all those trips to Hawaii would pay off for Polian eight years ago with Manti Te’o either.