It’s no secret that Notre Dame has struggled to recruit pass rushers for the better part of the last 20 years. On Thursday Notre Dame hosts elite pass rusher Jayson Oweh for the second time in the last two months. Oweh is the kind of pass rusher that Notre Dame desperately needs to add to the class of 2018 for it to be the kind of class to help the Irish get back to where they want to be.
Even when Notre Dame has landed elite pass rush specialists in recent years , they either haven’t panned out (see Ishaq Williams), haven’t lasted long on campus (see Aaron Lynch), or decommitted before they ever enrolled (see Robert Beal). Current sophomore Daelin Hayes falls into the category of a potential elite pass rusher but to date there is still more potential than production with one of Notre Dame’s most pivotal players of the 2017 roster.
That brings us to Thursday’s visitor. A few months ago Jayson Oweh – a 6’6″, 240 lbs athletic defensive end – was a 3-star recruit on most services. A lot has changed since then. Oweh has lit up the camp circuit and his stock has soared over the last few months earning him a composite 4-star ranking from 247Sports. On Monday, Oweh jumped on an invitation to play in the Under Armour All-American Bowl.
— Jayson Oweh (@JaysonOweh) July 18, 2017
Jayson Oweh is One of Notre Dame’s Top Priorities
In the process, Oweh has quickly become one of the most crucial recruits for Notre Dame’s class of 2018. The Irish already have an elite interior lineman in Jayson Ademilola whose own stock has been rising to go along with his twin brother strongside defensive end Justin who himself is considered one of the top 10 prospects in New Jersey. Ja’Mion Franklin is also committed already and could very well earn a 4th star after a strong performance at The Opening earlier this month.
What Notre Dame is missing right now is a pass rusher. Jayson Oweh can be that pass rusher. The New Jersey prep star is still very raw after picking up football late, but he has shown freakish athletic ability on the camp circuit. He’s been testing off the charts and is just scratching the surface of his potential.
Here’s a quick look at Oweh as a junior.
In fact, 20 years ago, a recruit like Jayson Oweh likely wouldn’t have seen his stock rise this quickly because there simply weren’t as many camp as there are today for a raw recruit like him to impress. There is no shortage of camps today, however, and Oweh has made the most of every one he has attended.
After visiting Notre Dame on Thursday, Oweh will be headed to Ohio State for another visit and is expected to make his decision before the end of the summer. Oweh will have his parents with him on the visit and academics will reportedly be a factor in his decision.
According to NJ.com, Penn State holds a slight lead for Oweh, but all three of his top schools are still very much in the race here. Here is what he specifically said about Notre Dame.
“I love Notre Dame’s tradition as well. They’re like the Gods of college football. And coach (Brian) Kelly, he’s strict but he knows what he wants. And coach (Mike) Elston, the d-line coach, I have a good relationship with him. And he knows what I want. I want a good academic school and good football at the same time.”
Thursday’s Visit Looms Large for Notre Dame
In short, Notre Dame needs to knock this visit out of the park. If Notre Dame could add Oweh to the Ademilola twins and Franklin they will be in excellent shape along the defensive line. If they could then add Thomas Booker as the cherry on top of the sundae, every Notre Dame fan should do cartwheels because that would be the best defensive line haul in the Brian Kelly Era.
The Ademilola twins were on campus with Oweh back in June for the Irish Invasion and Notre Dame has to be hopeful that the Jersey connection can help start to tilt things in their favor here soon. This week’s trip will also be the first time his mother will get to see Notre Dame up close. His father visited with him for the Irish Invasion, but this will be Notre Dame’s first chance to win over mom.
Notre Dame has some pass rushers on its roster that have the potential to develop into really good players. Like Oweh, incoming freshman Kofi Wardlow is a very raw prospect but has the chance to vastly out play his recruiting rankings. Julian Okwara is developing nicely but is still probably a year’s worth of work in the weight room away from being ready for consistent snaps. Ade Ogundeji is another young, developing pass rusher that flashed in the spring as well. What Notre Dame doesn’t have are established pass rushers so they need to add as many players like Oweh who have really high ceilings as they can.
It’s rare for a recruiting visit in the middle of July to hold a lot of importance, but Thursday’s visit by Oweh and his family will help shape the Notre Dame class of 2018 for better or worse. In an ideal world the Irish would get the last say and not have to send Oweh on his way to Ohio State, but as is they need to knock this one out of the park.