Notre Dame Football’s Top 25 Players for 2019: #16-20

We’re back today with the second installment of our top 25 Notre Dame football players for the 2019 season.  If you missed the start to yesterday’s countdown, be sure to see who was ranked #21-25 before yelling at us in the comments.  Today we have a heavy dose of the defensive line coming your way with Notre Dame having one of its most talented and deepest d-lines in years in 2019.

20. Ade Ogundeji (DE, Sr)

  • Highest ranking: 17
  • Lowest ranking: NR
  • Number of ballots: 2

Ade Ogundeji is the second last player in the countdown who didn’t appear on every ballot.  Heading into 2018, Ogundeji was still a mystery.  He came to Notre Dame very raw and through his first two years, he didn’t see the field.  He started to come into his own in 2018 though and is now a vital cog in Notre Dame’s defensive line rotation.

His final stats might not reflect that of a top 20 player since he technically isn’t even a starter, but he is going to play a lot this year and by 2020, he will be a top 15 talent.  I thought I had him ranked high until I saw Matt’s ballot where he was #17.

Matt’s Comments: I’ll be the first to admit I didn’t expect anything from Ade much less be able to pronounce his name but he was a pleasant surprise last season as a reserve.  He recorded 20 tackles with 2 tackles for loss and one pass break up.  Now an upperclassman it wouldn’t shock me if he’s one of the best defensive linemen on the team.  

19. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (LB, Jr)

  • Highest ranking: 16
  • Lowest ranking: NR
  • Number of ballots: 2

The last player who wasn’t on all three ballots also had one of the most varied rankings.  Matt didn’t have Jeremiah Oqusu-Koramoah anywhere in his top 25 while I had him ranked as the 16th overall player.  Had JOK been healthy last year, I think he would have pushed Asmar Bilal at ROVER by the end of the season.  While the position wasn’t exactly a liability, Notre Dame didn’t get much production at ROVER either.

Before getting injured early in the season last year, Owusu-Koramoah was progressing nicely in his sophomore campaign.  Remember, JOK was the first player Notre Dame recruited exclusively as a ROVER after the hiring of Mike Elko in early 2017.  I expect a breakthrough campaign from him this fall.

Greg’s Comments: Please be good. If he is good, the defense will be ok. There are reasons to think he’ll be good, but we don’t know because he’s never played. Please be good. 

18. Michael Young (WR, Jr)

  • Highest ranking: 16
  • Lowest ranking: 21
  • Number of ballots: 3

It is no secret that Notre Dame needs more big plays out of the wide receiver position in 2019.  It’s also no secret that of the wide receivers on the roster for fall camp, Michael Young is one in particular who can help in that department.  We all know Ian Book doesn’t have a cannon like Brandon Wimbush, but we also all know that Book is deadly accurate and can get the ball out quickly.

Young has the skillset to take turn those quick, accurate throws into big plays.  We’ve seen it in glimpses over the last few years, but never with consistency.  Now that is slated to start the X-receiver position, he will have every opportunity to showcase those skills. With all of Notre Dame’s weapons, the only issue for Young in 2019 might be getting enough touches.

Matt: Originally I had rising sophomore Kevin Austin here but with his impending suspension for the beginning of the season I’ve decided to roll with Young as my breakout WR.  The junior has shown flashes of promise his first two years in limited duty but now as a starter will be expected to put up Chase Claypool-type numbers as the X receiver.

Greg: Listen, Michael Young is good. The problem with being good and being a wide receiver is if they don’t throw you the ball, then no one knows you’re good. Every time they throw the ball to Michael Young he’s open and he catches it, good traits in a receiver. 

17. Kurt Hinish (DT, Jr)

  • Highest ranking: 16
  • Lowest ranking: 21
  • Number of ballots: 3

Notre Dame has some questions on the inside of its defense in 2019.  The Irish replace both interior defensive linemen and both inside backers.  Notre Dame needs Hinish to earn this ranking to hold up against the run in 2019.

By the end of last year, Hinish was playing at least as good, if not better than 5th year senior Jonathan Bonner, so there is a lot of reason to expect a big year for Hinish as he enters his junior year.  Injuries forced him into way too many snaps as a true freshman in 2017, but he will need every bit of the experience he’s had over the last two years to hold down the NT position.  Depth behind him is still somewhat of an issue, but Hinish should be solid this fall.  If he is better than solid, this defense will be very good again.

Matt: Hinish and MTA are both being counted on to step in for departed seniors Jerry Tillery and Jonathan Bonner.  Expect a big jump in production for Hinish who I believe can be just as good as Tillery was last season in the middle plugging holes.

Greg: He’ll be a low key steady player who Notre Dame will vitally need in every game and will accumulate close to no stats on a game to game basis. 

16. Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa (DT, Jr)

  • Highest ranking: 17
  • Lowest ranking: 18
  • Number of ballots: 3

Hinish’s partner in crime on the inside of the defensive line comes in just one position ahead of him.  Had Lord Myron not gotten hurt in the first week of the season, he may just have broken out last year already.  This is a big, strong kid who is ready for a starting job.  He has some big shoes to fill in replacing Jerry Tillery this fall.

While he might not have any individual performance as dominating as Tillery’s one-man wrecking crew against Stanford, it’s not crazy to think that Tagovailoa might be a bit more steady at DT for Notre Dame.  Tillery was unblockable at times and as a result, he was Notre Dame’s first 1st round pick along the defensive line in over 20 years earlier this year.  There were still stretches of time, however, when Tillery was fairly silent.

Notre Dame doesn’t need Tagovailoa-Amosa to be as dominant of a pass rush as Tillery was on his best days week in and week out.  What they need out of him this fall, however, is a brute force on the middle of the line that can at times demand a double team.  If he does that, Notre Dame should be in fine shape on the inside of the defensive line.

Matt: Lord Myron basically missed all of his sophomore season when he broke his foot vs Michigan in the season opener.  This year the reserve will be a starter along with Hinish and should give the Fighting Irish a more powerful push than they had last season.

Greg: He and Hinish are the same, so I ranked them basically together. I think Hinish will play at a slightly higher level throughout the season, thus the slightly higher ranking. 

Tomorrow things start to get fun because each our top 15’s were very different so there are some surprises in the players ranked 11th-15th.

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One Comment

  1. Greg, I know that “please be good” feeling you expressed above about Jeremiah O-K! I have the exact same feeling (more like “hope”) about the young linebacker from Penn HS. I really liked what I saw from him in the Blue-Gold game. We need somebody at linebacker to emerge as an impact player who exceeds all expectations…a “Wesley Pritchett” type, or a “Heimcritter” type would be just fine…he doesn’t have to be a Manti Teo or a Jim Lynch to get the defense playing like Champions…he just needs to be there for us with a “let’s get strict” attitude against the opponents inside running game. Whoever you are – “please be good.”

    BGC ’77 ’82

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