Notre Dame’s recruiting class of 2017 grew by one on Friday when four-star guard Darnell Ewell committed to the Irish over offers from Alabama, Clemson, Michigan and Ohio State, among others.
Ewell visited Notre Dame in June and fell in love with what he saw.
“It was really nice,” he said. “It was nice. It's a nice good fit and a good feel being around everybody. Academically, I know I'll be sound. Having that environment and support, I feel comfortable.”
The 6-foot-4, 295-pounder from Norfolk, Va., had identified a top three of Michigan, Notre Dame and Ohio State prior to announcing his decision.
He saw a lot to like in each school but Notre Dame won out.
“It really means a lot to be given an opportunity to go there, just the opportunity itself means a lot,” he said. “Notre Dame is really, really different from all the other schools I went to I've got to say. There's just something about there. It's not like any other school does the same stuff. Notre Dame does things a little differently.”
The Irish recruited Ewell, the nation’s No. 8 guard, as an interior defensive lineman.
“I really don't even care as long as I'm on the team,” he said. “If they want me on offense I'll be there, defense I'll be there. If they want me was a wide receiver or anything else, I'll be there.”
Hank Sawyer, Ewell’s coach at Lake Taylor High School, believes Ewell is suited to play on either side of the ball in college.
“He's a great run blocker. One-on-one he's really good,” Sawyer said. “Defensively, if you don't double team him he's going to be in the backfield and cause some problems.”
Sawyer, who has coached Ewell throughout his high school career, believes the Irish are getting the complete package.
“He's a 3.6 student and a member of the National Honor Society and he's in the ROTC program here at Taylor,” Sawyer said. “He's a gentleman. He's a humble giant.”
Ewell believes his participation in the Junior ROTC has helped him shine on the football field.
“It's a really, really great program,” he said. “It helps out a lot. ROTC is really, really strict. (Captain Garrett) treats it more like a military kind of environment. We have all these times and schedules that we have to be and it gives us the responsibility to be there and take care of our responsibilities in his class. That not only goes to football, showing up for practice and doing the drills and being obedient and not getting out of place, that not only teaches us that in football but in the classroom too. It really just taught me discipline and how to conduct myself as an adult.”
Ewell hopes to major in Sociology at Notre Dame.
“First, I want to get into the field,” he said. “I know it's a really, really broad field but I want to see if maybe I can get into something leading into criminal justice or maybe a therapist, you never know.”