ND A-to-Z: Khalid Kareem

Can a four-star defensive end with a national offer list really get overlooked in South Bend? Khalid Kareem did during his first spring practice. That treatment might last long come fall.

For all the stress about defensive line recruiting, Notre Dame did enroll Khalid Kareem and Daelin Hayes last January. Remember them? Those four-star pass rushers Notre Dame flipped from Alabama and USC?  

While Hayes was limited during spring practice after shoulder surgery, Kareem hit the ground running when he arrived and went through spring. Are these freshmen the solutions to Notre Dame’s pass rush problems? They can at least be part of that fix if they take steps forward this summer under Paul Longo’s program, which gets rolls in earnest next week.

Khalid Kareem is next in Irish Illustrated’s A-to-Z series.

The Michigan product didn’t make many headlines during spring practice, but Kareem can be a valuable asset for the Irish this season if all goes to plan.

Best-Case Scenario

A starting job is not on the table for Kareem this fall, but locking down the No. 2 Big End position should be. Considering how little Jonathan Bonner has played the past two years while switching positions and battling injuries, there’s no reason to think Kareem can’t displace a tweener with five career tackles. Remember, Kareem was a one-time commitment to Alabama. While the Crimson Tide backed off Kareem, who ultimately decided that he wanted to play closer to home, the fact a Midwest defensive lineman was good enough to make Alabama’s commitment list at all should be revealing. While Bonner was a regional recruit who earned his offer at summer camp, Kareem was a national name long before that. The raw material is there for Notre Dame.

Worst-Case Scenario

Too much Kareem would be a bad thing for Notre Dame unless he turns into Aaron Lynch or Stephon Tuitt this summer. After watching Kareem during spring ball he doesn’t make that kind of instant impression, although at 6-foot-4, 270 pounds he’s already big enough to steal a few snaps if necessary. Assuming Isaac Rochell continues to stay healthy after proving to be a warrior the past two years, and Jonathan Bonner can offer a competent alternative at Big End, Notre Dame doesn’t need to rush it with Kareem. Really the worst-case scenario here is anything that involved Rochell not being able to answer the bell. If that that happens Kareem had better be ready to go early. Relying on a freshman defensive lineman is almost never a good thing for the Irish.

Career Comparison

Impossible to say considering the stage, but a career track like Rochell would suit nicely, just as long as Kareem logs time this fall by choice and not due to emergency. Rochell was pushed into action as a freshman after a disastrous run of injuries. Kareem, who’s built like a smaller Rochell, could give Notre Dame something similar. With Rochell gone after this season, Kareem can use this fall to play himself into a starting job in 2017 and beyond.

Development Vs. Recruiting Ranking

A consensus four-star prospect across the recruiting landscape, Kareem went as high as No. 124 overall on ESPN and as low as No. 282 overall on Scout.com. The slot within his position was clear as analysts put Kareem among the Top 20 strong-side defensive ends national but not really within the Top 10, although ESPN listed him No. 9 in that subset of rankings. Everybody else had Kareem in the high teens.

Kareem At His Best

TBD for obvious reasons. But it’s easy to imagine Kareem seeing the time at Texas in a supporting role.

Quote To Note

“He’s gonna do the things that you want from a defensive end as far as keeping contain, maintaining the edge and doing all the basic things you want from a defensive end. But he’s got a skill set of pass rush abilities that’s pretty special.” – Keith Gilmore on National Signing Day

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