Notre Dame quietly got a good defensive end class for 2016.
It’s been just a few weeks since Notre Dame completed its 2016 recruiting class. The Fighting Irish brought in another very good class, which ranked from 10 to 15 on most national recruiting service sites. We will review the defensive end recruits which include Khalid Kareem, Julian Okwara, and Adetokindo Ogundeji.
Khalid Kareem is 6’4” 245 lbs from Harrison High School in Farmington, Michigan. He was a unanimous four-star recruit who originally committed to Alabama. He had a great senior season where he had 56 tackles, including 36 for loss and 16 sacks. He was first team all-state and made the Detroit Free Press Dream Team.
He capped his high school career by being named the the MVP in Semper Fidelis All American Bowl. After his de-commitment from Alabama, he had to choose from Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Stanford, and other offers. He and his family were blown away during his official visit to the Southern Cal game this past October. As an early enrollee, Khalid looks to break into the two-deep at defensive end. Scouting reports state that he has a great first step and has exceptional pass-rushing skills.
Julian Okwara is 6’4” 215 lbs. from Ardrey Kell High School in Charlotte, North Carolina. He is the brother of Romeo Okwara, the two-year starter at defensive end for the Fighting Irish.
Julian, like Kareem, is a four-star prospect who had a tremendous senior season. He had 85 tackles, four sacks, and four forced fumbles. He was selected as first-team defense by the Charlotte Observer and was USA Today’s All North Carolina second team. He capped his high school career by being named to the North Carolina team for the 2015 Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas. Unfortunately, he didn’t play in the game because of injury.
Julian was recruited by over 20 schools and picked Notre Dame over other finalists Clemson, Georgia, Michigan and Ole Miss. Because he weighs only 215 lbs., he will have to bulk up and work in the weight room to play defensive end. He has great speed coming off the ball, which should help him develop into great edge rusher. The coaches think he will see playing time this season because he is a true pass rusher.
Adetokunbo Ogundeji is a 6’5” 225 lb. defensive end from Walled Lake Central High School in West Bloomfield, Michigan. He is a three-star prospect who looks to be red-shirted this season.
He was injured after a couple of games his senior season as he recorded 18 tackles, two sacks, and a fumble recovery. In his junior season, Adetokunbo had 66 tackles and eight sacks. He was recruited by California, Miami (Ohio), Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Toledo and other schools.
Even though he was not recruited heavily, Adetokunbo is highly regarded by the Notre Dame coaching staff. Brian Kelly stated “Coach Gilmore and our defensive line unit are adding a great student athlete in Adetokunbo and I am optimistic he will develop into a very special player over his career at ND.” He does seem to have a lot of upside in that he is tall, athletic, and can put on weight. If he putsit all together, he can become a force on Notre Dame defense for years to come.
Notre Dame recruited two of the better defensive ends in Khalid Kareem and Julian Okwara. These two combine the power of Kareem and the speed of Okwara on the edges. Ogundeji is more of a project, but with a year to red-shirt, he can back in 2017 and fulfill the expectations the coaching staff has for him.
We should look for Kareem and Okwara to see playing time as true freshmen this season. Hopefully, they can contribute to a defense that needs to improve this season if the Fighting Irish are to have a successful season.