Darnell Ewell wasn’t the top-ranked prospect to sign with Notre Dame today.
But the 6-foot-4, 295-pound standout from Norfolk, Va., rates among the most important.
New Irish defensive coordinator Mike Elko confirmed as much during a January in-home visit.
“They came down a week ago, the defensive coordinator and Brian Kelly,” Ewell said. “We all sat down and talked about (National Signing Day) and how it would go and what was expected of me.”
Elko explained his defensive scheme and how he’d use Ewell to get after the passer.
“He told me how I fit in and where I fit at,” Ewell said. “The game plan hasn't changed from what I was going to go up there and accomplish. I still have the same aspirations and outlook. I'm still doing the same stuff. They’re different coaches but it's still the same game plan.”
As a senior, Ewell led Lake Taylor to an 11-2 record. His season ended with a 29-15 loss to eventual state runner-up Dinwiddie in the quarterfinals.
Ewell committed to the Irish in July over offers from Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State, among others.
The Buckeyes were a close runner-up.
“I really enjoyed Ohio State because two of my former teammates were there,” Ewell said. “I got a good look at everything because I was up there twice. It felt like home.”
Now, he’ll focus on bolstering the Irish defensive line and earning early playing time.
“I'm really happy that this is over and I’m really happy to be able to sign the deal of a lifetime for me,” Ewell said. “I'm just grateful that I'm given this opportunity because I realize so many other people dream of it.”