Notre Dame’s already loaded defensive class for 2019 got a little more loaded on Thursday afternoon when 4-star LB Osita Ekwonu committed to the Irish. Ekwonu, a top 200 overall prospect according to both 247Sports and Rivals, is the seventh 4-star prospect to commit to Notre Dame on the defensive side of the ball for 2019 already.
The commitment should not have come as much of a surprise to those following his recruitment closely. Ekwonu visited Notre Dame three times overall including an official visit in April when he spent time with fellow Irish commitments Hunter Spears, Jacob Lacey, and NaNa Osafo Mensah.
According to 247Sports, Ekwonu is the #190 overall prospect in the country regardless of position and the #7 inside linebacker prospect for 2019. Alabama, Florida, Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, and Tennessee among other major D1 programs all offered Ekwonu a scholarship prior to his commitment to Notre Dame.
Just to reiterate, Notre Dame just beat out Alabama, Michigan, and Ohio State for a 4-star, top 200 linebacker prospect.
Osita Ekwonu is a rangy player who could play either outside or inside linebacker for the Irish during his career depending on how he develops in the weight room. At 6’2″, 215 lbs currently he’ll need to fill out his frame more for either position but he has shown the ability to play in coverage if he lands on the outside. Ekwonu moonlights as a running back for Providence Day HS (also the alma mater of defensive end Julian Okwara) in Charlotte giving a glimpse of his overall athletic ability.
As a running back, Ekwonu picked up 500 yards and ran for 13 touchdowns as a junior. On the defensive side of the ball where he will ultimately play for the Irish, we racked up 101 tackles and 3 sacks.
With Ekwonu in the fold, Notre Dame now has seven 4-star commitments on defense and nine overall commitments on the defensive side of the ball alone. He is also the second linebacker to commit to Notre Dame this week alone after in-state prospect Jack Kiser committed earlier in the week.
After adding four linebackers in 2018 – Jack Lamb, Shayne Simon, Bo Bauer, and Ovio Oghoufo – look for Notre Dame to try to add at least one more in addition to Ekwonu and Kiser. Linebacker recruiting had been thin for the Irish for a years during the failed Brian Vangorder experiment but has picked up tremendously since the arrival of Clark Lea as first linebackers coach and now defensive coordinator following the 2016 season.