Notre Dame football had five recruits on campus this past weekend, including defensive end, Kofi Wardlow.
The interesting thing about Wardlow is that he’s only played football for two years. Growing up, Wardlow was primarily a basketball player, but after coming out for St. John’s College High’s team during his junior year, Wardlow immediately made an impact.
At 6’3, 230-pounds, Wardlow is the ideal size for an outside linebacker/edge rusher. Playing both in high school, this freakish athlete proved he’s able to make plays standing up or with his hand in the dirt.
This past season, Wardlow finished with 84 tackles, 28.5 tackles for loss, and 9.5 sacks. Not bad for a player with two years experience.
Wardlow is verbally committed to Maryland as a 3-star recruit. But watching him, you can tell that this edge rusher is only a 3-star because of his inexperience. Because when it comes to athleticism, strength, size, and ability to tackle, Wardlow is definitely more than a 3-star athlete.
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After only two seasons of productivity, it’s hard to say that Wardlow should be awarded anything higher than 3-stars. Football knowledge is developed over time and is just as important than a player’s physical traits, which is why Wardlow is a 3-star recruit now, but as he develops his instincts, will be one of the biggest steals of 2017.
His ability to blow past defenders while using his hands resembles some of Notre Dame’s best edge rushers. The first player that comes to mind, Romeo Okwara. Both Wardlow and Okwara would use their initial speed to gain an advantage on the offensive lineman, then their strength and hand movement to get around.
Much like Okwara, Wardlow possesses the size of both a defensive end and linebacker and will likely play both in college, much like Okwara did in South Bend. A better pass rusher than coverage player, Wardlow does have the hands to make interceptions when needed, giving him the added aspect of dropping back off the line.
Right now, Wardlow is making Maryland fans much happier than Irish fans. As a verbal commit, he made it clear early that he was headed to the Terps. But after his official visit to Notre Dame this past weekend, Wardlow may be thinking of a schooling change to Notre Dame.
With the loss of Jarron Jones, Isaac Rochell, and James Onwualu, Notre Dame is looking to add more talent to the defensive line. Adding someone who can put pressure on the quarterback and take some away from the secondary is a bonus.
There are less than two weeks until National Signing Day. If Notre Dame wants Wardlow to flip by February 1st, they’re going to have to put in some effort. But Brian Kelly isn’t one of the country’s top recruiters for nothing.
Don’t be surprised if Wardlow changes his mind last minute. With the amount of change happening in South Bend, the Irish are a very appealing team for a player looking to grow. Come National Signing Day, Wardlow may be putting on a Notre Dame hat instead.