WHAT NOTRE DAME HAS
Notre Dame landed its first defensive end on the eve of Irish Invasion when Jonathon MacCollister committed to Brian Kelly, just hours into his first South Bend visit.
The 6-foot-4, 255-pound strong-side end committed to Notre Dame over offers from Auburn, Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisville, Maryland, Miami, Michigan State, Mississippi State, North Carolina, N.C. State, Ohio State, Oregon, Tennessee, UCLA, Utah, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest.
MacCollister has played offensive tackle, tight end, nose tackle and defensive end so far in his career at Bishop Moore in Orlando, Fla. Ohio State, a finalist in MacCollister’s decision, recruited him at tight end. He has the position versatility and physical makeup to develop at three-technique in Notre Dame’s scheme.
WHY IT MATTERS
Notre Dame needed recruiting momentum and defensive linemen.
MacCollister delivered on both fronts.
The first defensive end get in the class – excluding one-time commitment Robert Beal – was also the first of four commits in four days built around Irish Invasion. The Irish offered MacCollister in May, less than a week after Autry Denson visited his school. Ohio State and Michigan State would offer in the week that followed.
Ultimately, Notre Dame beat Ohio State and Tennessee, two programs that excel on the recruiting trail. There’s some value in that fact too.
WHAT NOTRE DAME WANTS
Notre Dame wants four or five defensive linemen this cycle, and two are already on board. Three-star Kurt Hinish, who projects inside, committed to Notre Dame in April.
The primary (and realistic) targets along the defensive front going forward include strong-side ends Cortez Alston, Joshua Kaindoh and Joshua Paschal, rush ends K’Jakyre Daley, Hunter Echols, D.J. Johnson and Chris Whittaker, and interior prospects Martin Andrus, Darnell Ewell and Dalyn Wade-Perry.
From that group, Kaindoh (Maryland) and Echols (UCLA) are committed elsewhere.
Just one defensive end departs after next season, at least in terms of exhausting his eligibility. That’s Isaac Rochell, who enters his senior year as Notre Dame’s only solid pass rusher. Junior Jonathan Bonner and freshman Khalid Kareem will back Rochell up on the strong-side this season.
As for rush ends, Andrew Trumbetti has two seasons of eligibility remaining. Junior Jay Hayes should also contribute meaningful snaps and might even start. Freshman Daelin Hayes is expected to compete early while freshman Julian Okwara has intriguing upside. Freshman Ade Ogundeji and junior Grant Blankenship fall in the unknown category.
The interior will lose Jarron Jones after this season and could shed John Montelus too considering he’s barely played the past three years. Juniors Daniel Cage and Pete Mokwuah, sophomores Jerry Tillery, Micah Dew-Treadway, Elijah Taylor and Brandon Tiassum are all set to be back.