Notre Dame picked up one of its biggest commitments for the class of 2019 thus far on Saturday afternoon at a major position of need when NaNa Osafo-Mensah – a 4-star weakside defensive end – committed to Notre Dame over Texas. Osafo-Mensah is now the 10th – and easily one of the most important – commitment for the class of 2019for the Irish.
Notre Dame has struggled to land pure pass rushers in the last few recruiting cycles, but they sure found one in the 6’4′, 230 lbs prospect out of Fort Worth, Texas. NaNa Osafo-Mesah has played both outside linebacker and defensive end and looks to be, on paper at least, a perfect fit for Notre Dame’s DROP position currently being filled by Daelin Hayes. Notre Dame did well in starting to fill their need at the position add a consensus 4-star player in the 247Sports composite rankings and the #105 overall prospect and #7 weakside DE in the country.
How NaNa Osafo-Mensah Ended up at Notre Dame
The Notre Dame staff got Osaf0-Mesah on campus for junior day in January and started to turn the tide in this recruitment. From that point on, the Irish were in the driver’s seat. Shortly after that visit, Mensah decided to take advantage of the new early official rules and set an official visit for the spring at Notre Dame.
On top of his offer from Notre Dame, Osafo-Mensah held offers from the likes of Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Michigan State, Oklahoma, Florida, Texas A&M, and USC. This has been primarily a two team race, however, with Notre Dame and Texas being named finalists last month.
— NaNa Osafo-Mensah (@NaNaOsafo2) April 12, 2018
It was not an easy recruitment for Notre Dame from then until now though. In-state powerhouse Texas fought tooth and nail with Notre Dame in this race and actually appeared to have pulled ahead of the Irish at the end of March prior to his official visit to Notre Dame on April 15. His Notre Dame official visit, however, appeared to have reminded Osafo-Mensah of why the Irish were his leader in the first place.
— NaNa Osafo-Mensah (@NaNaOsafo2) April 15, 2018
This was an excellent job of recruiting by both Mike Elston and Clark Lea to pull an elite defensive end out of Texas and fill a major position of need. One that they have failed to adjacently address in recent years. There is also the tiny bit of revenge factor towards former defensive coordinator Mike Elko with the in-state Aggies not even factoring into the decision of one of the state’s elite defensive prospects.
How NaNa Osafo-Mensah Fits at Notre Dame
To say Notre Dame has struggled to address the DROP position in recent years would be an understatement. While the Irish have done a pretty good job at the strong side defensive end position, the weak-side (DROP) has been a struggle. Osafo-Mensah fits the bill though.
The current depth chart at DROP looks as follows for Notre Dame:
- Daelin Hayes (6’4″, 264) – JR
- Julian Okwara (6’4.5″, 230 lbs) – JR
- Kofi Wardlow (6’2.5″, 240) – SO (5th year eligible)
And that is it although junior Jamir Jones could play here as well even though he is listed as the 3rd SDE. Ade Ogundeji has also played at WDE in his career despite being listed as the backup SDE to Khalid Kareem following the transfer of Jay Hayes. What this list shows, however, is that Notre Dame might have some bodies here but they are short of production. Daelin Hayes is a potential breakout player for Notre Dame in 2018 but outside of him and Okwara who inexplicably was 10 lbs lighter this spring after already looking too lean for the position, there are a lot of question marks for the Irish.
When Osafo-Mensah arrives on campus the situation could look drastically different if say Hayes does explode this fall and decides to leave early or if Wardlow and Ogundeji – both developmental players – make huge strides this fall. As long as Osafo-Mensah continues to grow and develop, however, he will have an excellent opportunity to be an instant impact player for Notre Dame.
The Irish now have four defensive linemen committed for 2019 all of which are four star prospects. Rounding out the line commitments as of now are Hunter Spears and Jacob Lacey on the inside and Hunter Cross at the SDE. Look for Notre Dame to continue to look at add another pass rush though given the struggles they have had at the position the last few years.