Riley Leonard was the high profile get from the Duke Bluedevils that everyone who loves Notre Dame football has talked about for most of the winter. But you ignore one of his teammates that joined him in South Bend at your peril.
R.J. Oben is one of those additions that might not get a ton of press over the offseason, but could indeed be one of the team’s MVPs once the season starts.
Oben is a pass rusher extraordinaire who didn’t rack up a ton of tackles but when he did reach his quarry, he tended to take them down behind the line of scrimmage. In three seasons as a starter, he had 14 sacks and 4 force fumbles. He even had an interception.
One of the most important things to remember about Oben is that while he tends to put up bigger numbers when he’s rushing the passer, he’s not someone who can’t play against the run.
He took part in 404 snaps on the defensive line in 2023 and 161 of those were during run plays.
The Duke transfer was a sometimes dominant player for a defense that wasn’t particularly good. It stands to reason he will take a pretty big leap for Notre Dame football under Al Golden’s tutelage.