Over the weekend defensive tackle Scott Pagano announced that he would be transferring from Clemson for his final year of eligibility. At the time it was reported that Notre Dame reached out, but in our report we noted that it could be more wishful thinking than anything else. Well, it looks like it might be more than wishful thinking. On Monday, 247Sports reported that Notre Dame was one of seven finalists for Pagano.
According to the report; Oklahoma, Cal, Oregon, Nebraska, Texas and Arkansas are among the the finalists for Pagano along with Notre Dame.
When Dabo Swinney accounced Pagano’s transfer on Friday, he said that he thought the defensive tackle would head out to the west coast to be closer to family (he’s from Hawaii). Among Pagano’s lists of finalists though, only two programs – Cal & Oregon – would be considered on the west coast.
Interestingly enough, three of the programs on Pagano’s list will have new head coaches in 2017 – Oregon, Texas, and Cal.
If Notre Dame is able to lure Scott Pagano to South Bend, it would be just another positive step in Notre Dame’s surprisingly strong off-season. Pagano could step in and start from day one for Notre Dame which is also likely part of the allure of the Irish for the soon to be former Clemson defender.
The future of Daniel Cage is still clouded due to lingering concussion issues and outside of the Cager, Notre Dame has very limited experience on the interior defensive line. Elijah Taylor played more than normal in the regular season finale against USC and stepped up to the challenge, but landing Pagano as a stop gap at defensive tackle would be huge boost to the Notre Dame defense under first year defensive coordinator Mike Elko.
Before reducing his list of schools down to seven, Pagano received interest from at least 37 programs since his announcement on Friday. According to 247Sports, Pagano will be setting up visits with his finalists before enrolling somewhere in May.
Before enrolling at Clemson four years ago, Pagano was a 4-star recruit and one of the top 25 defensive tackles in the country. This past season he played in 12 games for Clemson taking just under 300 snaps registering 4.5 tackles for loss and 2.0 sacks.
CBS Sports has Pagano projected as one of the top 10 defensive tackles in the 2018 NFL Draft.