Second Notre Dame football lineman entering the portal

Aidan Keanaaina DL of the Fighting Irish at Notre Dame football practice at the Irish Athletic Center on August 7, 2023.
Aidan Keanaaina DL of the Fighting Irish at Notre Dame football practice at the Irish Athletic Center on August 7, 2023. /

One day after three Notre Dame football players announced their intent to enter the portal, another defensive lineman has joined the exodus.

One of the more surprising aspects of this week has been just how many Notre Dame football players are making it known early and often, that they’ll be headed elsewhere.

On Tuesday afternoon, the fourth member of the Fighting Irish in the last two days made it clear he’s entering the transfer portal when it opens on December 4.  Aidan Keanaaina also happens to be the second defensive lineman to leave.

“After much prayer and reflection, I have decided to enter the transfer portal with my two years of eligibility remaining,” Keanaaina said in a social media graphic. “I love Notre Dame and I love this team. But I also have to do what is best for me and my future. Even as I enter the portal, I will always have a place in my heart for Notre Dame, and I will always be a part of the Fighting Irish family.”

While some of the transfers have been confusing as to what the motive might be, it’s clear why Keanaaina is moving on.

This season, Keanaaina couldn’t find much playing time behind starters Howard Cross III and Rylie Mills. He was only listed on the official depth chart when DT Gabriel Rubio was out with a knee injury. He also got a bit of playing time in short-yardage situations against Louisville.

Overall, Keanaaina got just 40 snaps all season.

Notre Dame football loses another defensive lineman

It’s worth noting that while he was low on the depth chart this year, there were people with the program who believed he was poised to break out in 2024. That includes Cross who talked about his teammate earlier this year when asked who impressed him most.

“Aidan just can’t be moved. I’d probably say he’s like another version of [former Notre Dame and current Houston Texans defensive tackle] Kurt [Hinish], but probably better because Kurt doesn’t move at all. Even in the league now, he doesn’t move. And Aidan doesn’t move either. He’s actually pretty good on pass rush too.”

If Cross was right, it’s unfortunate that someone other than the Notre Dame football program is about to be the beneficiary.