Notre Dame’s off-season overhaul could take a national title type turn.
Irish Illustrated has confirmed that Clemson defensive tackle Scott Pagano plans to officially visit Notre Dame on March 24 as he seeks a graduate transfer out of the Tigers program. Pagano started four games during Clemson’s national title run last season and finished with 299 snaps played, 31 tackles, 4.5 TFLs and two sacks.
That sack total would represent the returning leader for Notre Dame’s defensive line, which is bereft a pass rush heading into spring practice. Pagano wouldn’t join the Irish until summer.
247 Sports reported that Oklahoma has also secured an official visit, with a handful of other programs also in play, including Oregon and Cal on the West Coast. Pagano is a Hawaii product and it was expected he’d land in the Pac-12 region when news broke of his graduate transfer.
Pagano also started nine games during his junior year and was part of the defense that beat Notre Dame at Clemson in DeShone Kizer’s first road start, thanks in part to a failed Irish two-point conversion. The former four-star recruit posted four tackles in that game and finished with 51 tackles that season.
The Irish already landed receiver Freddy Canteen from Michigan in the graduate transfer market this off-season, following the pickups of cornerback Cody Riggs and safety Avery Sebastian in previous off-seasons. While Canteen figures to be part of the Irish receiver rotation, Pagano would almost certainly start.
The Irish are under-manned along the defensive line’s interior without a proven commodity at the position. Jerry Tillery is coming off an up-and-down sophomore season that ended on a major down. Daniel Cage battled concussions last season and has been hit by them multiple times in the past year. The rest of the defensive tackle group is unproven, although Jay Hayes could be a factor if defense coordinator Mike Elko doesn’t bump him to strong-side end.
Regardless, the Irish need help.
Now they’ll get a chance to add some that has national title experience.