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Defensive Signees: Kelly’s Takes


Of its 21 signees in Notre Dame’s class of 2017, 10 are expected to line up in new defensive coordinator Mike Elko’s scheme. During his National Signing Day press conference, Irish coach Brian Kelly heaped some praise on each of those 10.

Darnell Ewell: Lake Taylor; Norfolk, Va.
Measurements: 6’4”, 295 lbs.
Rankings: Consensus four-star recruit; Ninth at position, per, and No. 139 in country
Brian Kelly’s Take: “He’s in great shape physically and his mental preparation. I love the way he prepares in everything. He has a single-minded purpose in everything that he does. He takes care of himself. He’s very committed. He visited Ohio State and Notre Dame, and knew exactly where he wanted to go to school …

“He’s a guy that is prepared and wants to play immediately. We’re not going to tell him anything different. Come over here and compete right away. He’s got the physical traits, and he’s got the mindset.”

Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa: Kapolei, Hawaii
Measurements: 6’4”, 270 lbs.
Rankings: four-star recruit; No. 4 player in Hawaii, per, and No. 39 at position
Brian Kelly’s Take: “When you talk about d-linemen that are really emerging, Myron Tag-Amosa—I’m not going to give you the whole name because I will butcher it. I’ll save that as I get to know him a little bit.

“Myron jumped off the screen with his first-step quickness. For a big guy, we really think he’s got a huge upside. We think he’s starting to scratch the surface in terms of where he can be. He has some length to him, pass-rush ability, inside guy, not necessarily strictly an edge guy. He’s got some versatility.

“We like the fact that he’s a young player that’s going to get better and develop.”

Kurt Hinish: Central Catholic, Pittsburgh
Measurements: 6’2”, 283 lbs.
Rankings: Consensus three-star recruit; No. 11 player in Pennsylvania, per, and No. 38 at position
Brian Kelly’s Take: “Another guy that was part of that 15 group, if you will, that had always been kind of the first defensive lineman that we wanted and had identified, was Kurt Hinish, because of his toughness. We really wanted that tough-guy mentality on our defensive line. Kurt brought that to us right away. Not only did he make plays, but he had a toughness to him. We wanted to upgrade that toughness across the board.

“We thought we had some big, athletic guys. We wanted that physical and mental toughness that Kurt brought to his game.”

Jonathan MacCollister: Bishop Moore; Deland, Fla.
Measurements: 6’4”, 253 lbs.
Rankings: Consensus three-star recruit
Brian Kelly’s Take: “Speaking of a guy that’s developing on the outside, Jonathan MacCollister, who played mostly at the tight end position … He’s long, athletic, call him ‘Big Bird.’ He’s a very athletic player that we’re going to play on the outside. He’s a guy that we think has the length, the athleticism that can play the defensive end position.”

Kofi Wardlow: St. John’s College High School; Washington, D.C.
Measurements: 6’3”, 230 lbs.
Rankings: Consensus three-star recruit; No. 47 at his position, per
Brian Kelly’s Take: “We were looking for one more pass-rusher. We think Kofi has some elite skills at the defensive end position where he can grow and develop. We really liked his athleticism and his size, really impressed with him in person…

“He really fit the profile. He reminded us of a young [former Notre Dame and current New York Giants defensive lineman] Romeo Okwara. Not quite as long, but he is actually thicker than he is.

“He’s just a really young, raw, extremely athletic guy. A guy that we think can develop into a really nice edge player for us.”

David Adams: Central Catholic, Pittsburgh
Measurements: 6’2”, 225 lbs.
Rankings: three-star recruit; No. 8 player in Pennsylvania, No. 18 at position
Drew White: Saint Thomas Aquinas; Boca Raton, Fla.
Measurements: 6’1”, 225 lbs.
Rankings: Consensus three-star recruit
Brian Kelly’s Take: “Linebackers, we have two that are instinctive, tough, smart. Those are the three things that stand out with David Adams and Drew White…Captains, competitive, smart, instinctive linebackers. It just adds to what we’re looking for from a defensive perspective. Really, really excited in having them on our football team.”

Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah: Bethel; Hampton, Va.
Measurements: 6’2”, 188 lbs.
Rankings: Consensus three-star recruit; No. 18 player in Virginia, per, and No. 40 at position
(Notre Dame has Owusu-Koramoah listed at linebacker, but Kelly discussed him as a safety, and that is likely where he takes the field for the Irish.)
Brian Kelly’s Take: “Another one of those guys that really fit what we were looking for, especially in coach Elko’s defense, that safety position that can come down close to the line of scrimmage. Plays physical.

“We hosted him with [rising senior linebacker and captain] Nyles Morgan. When you host somebody, you want them to see Notre Dame and see the social aspects. These guys didn’t leave the film room. I mean, it was like they were joined at the hip for six hours just talking football. That’s the kind of kid [Owusu-Koramoah] is. He loves football. He’s going to be a great addition to the Notre Dame football family.”

Isaiah Robertson: Neuqua Valley; Bolingbrook, Ill.
Measurements: 6’3”, 190 lbs.
Rankings: Consensus four-star recruit; No. 4 player in Illinois, per, and No. 18 at position
Brian Kelly’s Take: “His reach is really incredible in terms of what were able to see in our testing. Again, a guy that we think can play the safety position for us at a high level. Comes from a great family. His dad played at Wisconsin, so he’s got great genes.

“In terms of where we play him, he played safety, a lot of wide receiver, but we want to focus on the defensive side of the ball with him.”

Jordan Genmark Heath: Cathedral Catholic; San Diego
Measurements: 6’2”, 205 lbs.
Rankings: three-star recruit; No. 73 player in California; No. 67 at position
Brian Kelly’s Take: “The one guy that jumps off the page immediately for us is Jordan Genmark Heath … This is a product of Mike Elko and his ability to stick with a recruit tha he had seen earlier. Both [Elko and new linebackers coach Clark Lea] knew about Jordan, and we were able to get him up here in a short period of time on a visit…

“You can make the case he could play on either side of the ball. We were really looking for that safety that had the skills that would really fit in nicely to the defense that we’re going to employ. I just think he was a real nice fit.”