Irish A-to-Z: Darnell Ewell

Top interior recruit expected to lend immediate aid up front for Mike Elko’s unit.

National Ranking: Ewell was a four-star prospect per 24/7’s composite rankings and came 146th overall in the SCOUT 300, its No. 7 (offensive) guard prospect. His highest ranking was on Rivals.com (139th nationally; No. 9 DT) and lowest was as ESPN.com’s 179th ranked player (No. 14 OG).
Irish Illustrated Rank: Ewell ranked No. 2 overall per our staff, placing at No. 1 on two ballots and never below fourth.
Position(s): NT, DT, OG
Likelihood of Freshman Redshirt: Low

2017 PATH TO PLAYING TIME

His arrival on campus?

That’s a stretch, but the reality for Ewell’s rookie season is the Irish could use – at worst – regular rotational help in the defensive interior.

Nose tackles Jerry Tillery and Daniel Cage and defensive tackles (“three-technique) Jonathan Bonner and Micah Dew-Treadway enter training camp as the team’s top four inside. Thereafter sits the trio of Brandon Tiassum, Pete Mokwuah, and still-injured Elijah Taylor (LisFranc surgery). Mokwuah has barely played entering his senior season, the junior Tiassum never has, and his classmate Taylor is unlikely to be at full strength when camp commences.

Enter Ewell and his fellow freshmen line mates Kurt Hinish and Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa to vie for early playing time.

Ewell is the best bet among them for 2017.

QUOTABLE

“Long arms, a thick upper body, and his lower body is really powerful. He’s got great power angles so he’s able to keep good leverage on blocks. He’s very challenging to move when he comes off the football.”– Irish recruiting coordinator, Mike Elston

LONG-TERM PROJECTION

Starting nose tackle in 2019…perhaps earlier.

Tillery will be a senior in 2018 and with Cage gone, the former could be afforded a luxury next season he does not have this year – a move back to his natural three-technique, defensive tackle position.

But that luxury depends on Ewell’s early career arc and development.

The 6’4” 310-pound Ewell’s early dedication to physical improvement and flexibility (sans experience, he joined his high school’s swim team per a story by the South Bend Tribune’s Eric Hansen) should serve him well as he acclimates to the college level. His toughness and strength are ready-made traits as he hits the LaBar Practice Field this summer.

It’s not a stretch to forecast Ewell in a part-time starting nose tackle role as a true sophomore in 2018.

PLAYER COMPARISON

Tall and already stout – not something you normally encounter in a 17-year-old defensive line signee to South Bend.

His physical dimensions are identical to current senior Pete Mokwuah (both 6’4” 310) and similar to those of 2012 nose tackle/offensive tackle prospect Jarron Jones (6’5” 299 lbs.) but the trio boasts disparate strengths and, it must be noted, respective approaches to the sport. 

(It’s worth noting that Ewell, 146th overall per Scout.com, and Jones, 229th in 2012, both played along the offensive line during their prep careers and both were ranked as such by Scout.)

Former defensive tackle George “Boo” Williams was of similar stature (6’4” 300) especially considering players were lighter during his playing days (1987-1990). For those familiar with Williams’ work at the college level, that’s a more compelling comparison.


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