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The Big Picture: How Darnell Ewell Fits

Irish Illustrated takes an in-depth look at what Notre Dame will get from Virginia defensive tackle Darnell Ewell after scoring his commitment on Friday.


Notre Dame projects new commitment Darnell Ewell as a three-technique or nose tackle depending on the defensive front.

Ewell is a big-bodied lineman with elite potential, position versatility and a top-notch work ethic. He played varsity as a freshman for one of the East Coast’s consistently best programs, Norfolk (Va.) Lake Taylor.

The 6-foot-4, 295-pound prospect is ranked as Scout’s No. 149 overall prospect and No. 8 defensive offensive guard.

Ewell held offers from Alabama, Clemson, Duke, Florida, Florida State, Georgia Tech, LSU, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Ole Miss, North Carolina, Penn State, Pittsburgh, South Carolina, Stanford, Tennessee, UCLA, Virginia, and Virginia Tech.

Ewell held a majority of those offers as a sophomore.


One month ago, Ewell’s top list, in order, was Ohio State, Michigan, Alabama, Clemson and Notre Dame.

A crowded defensive line board in Columbus, but more notably, a stellar trip to South Bend vaulted the Irish from fifth to first in a matter of days.

Ewell visited Notre Dame on June 24, a visit that was sandwiched between trips to Ohio State and Michigan that occurred in a three-day span. He was blown away by campus and Notre Dame’s recruiting pitch. Following the visit, the Irish staff was left with minimal follow-up communication in order to prompt a decision date. 

The Irish didn’t offer Ewell until this past April, when he already held more than 20 offers. But Ewell grew up liking Notre Dame and consistently told those close to him that was the offer he still wanted, notable considering how little success the Irish have recruiting the Virginia Beach area.

The fact Notre Dame didn’t offer a top 150 defensive line prospect from the Tidewater region until April of his junior year, and he committed the Irish four months later, should quiet naysayers that suggest recruiting areas like Fresno, Calif., are useless. 


With Ewell and Kurt Hinish on board at defensive tackle, the Irish are likely done at the position this cycle.

But Jerron Cage, an Ohio State commitment and the younger brother of Irish defensive tackle Daniel Cage, could change that outlook. The younger Cage will likely be in South Bend a couple times this season.


When Ewell and Hinish arrive in South Bend the defensive tackle depth chart will have lost Jarron Jones while Daniel Cage will be beginning his final season. Pete Mokwuah and Jerry Tillery will have two years remaining.

Last year’s freshman class of Elijah Taylor, Micah Dew-Treadway and Brandon Tiassum all red-shirted in 2015, meaning they’ll have three years remaining after this season.

Notre Dame didn’t sign a true interior defensive lineman last cycle, although Khalid Kareem could grow into a three technique over the long haul. The same applies with Class of 2017 strong-side defensive end commitment Jonathon MacCollister.


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