Though it was expected, yesterday afternoon Jayson Ademilola announced his departure from Notre Dame football to the NFL. That marks the second starting defensive lineman headed to the NFL that the Irish will have to replace, the first being All-American Isaiah Foskey.
When one door closes, another door opens, which means the Irish will have a chance to watch a current player step up and lead the charge. Could it be Jordan Botelho who came on strong in the last six games of the season, picking up 4.5 sacks? Or will it be Rylie Mills, who always seemed on the edge of taking a giant leap this year but couldn’t quite hit that next level?
Of course, it could be someone the Notre Dame football coaching staff looks to bring in from the outside. Rondell Bothroyd and Byron Vaughns are two of the names connected with the Irish the most, but lately, another has surfaced – Anthony Lucas. Anthony was a top priority recruit for the Irish out of high school before picking Texas A&M. The 5-star talent has since decided to transfer, and according to Tom Loy of 247Sports, the Irish will likely pursue.
Another name the Irish will keep an eye on is former Notre Dame football commit CJ Williams. CJ was committed to Brian Kelly and the Irish before ultimately flipping close to national signing day and choosing USC. He was a top 75 player nationally and the 7th-best receiver according to 247Sports rankings. Williams was very professional in how he left the program and stated that Marcus Freeman’s final in-home visit made it a tough choice. This could be worth monitoring.
According to his Twitter, Oklahoma State Safety transfer Thomas Harper visited Notre Dame this week. He wasn’t too highly recruited out of high school but evolved into a power-5 starter with time and hard work. This past season, in 7 games, Harper accounted for 30 tackles, 2 pass deflections, and an interception. Though he battled some injuries this year, should Harper stay healthy, he could contribute to a winning defense.
The Irish have a lot of work to finish in the transfer portal if they want to be playoff contenders next season. None of these guys may play for Notre Dame football next year; at least the coaches will give them something to think about. They must find guys who fit the team and what they’re trying to build.