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Former Stanford commit, DE Armel Mukam fills unexpected hole in Notre Dame’s class of 2023

To make a recruiting commitment even sweeter, Notre Dame took from rival Stanford with the flip of consensus three-star defensive end Armel Mukam (Woodberry Forest School; Va.) on Wednesday.

Mukam had been committed to the Cardinal for about two months, perhaps partly because there was not a spot in the Irish class for him. When five-star end Keon Keeley (Berkeley Prep; Tampa) de-committed from Notre Dame last week, the window opened for Mukam. Note: That is in part speculation, but the timing of one and then the other suggests such a domino effect.

There is no need to compare the two. One is no longer part of Irish plans, while Mukam very much now is. At 6-foot-4 and 250 pounds, his wide body and long arms make it hard for a running back to get around the edge, lengthening the ball carrier’s trip upfield.

Mukam is quick off the snap and willing to chase after passes into the flat, intangible signs of hustle.

Such raw descriptions of Mukam are necessary, given he has played only one full season of football and moved from Canada to the United States to do so. Nonetheless, he showed enough in his junior season’s six games to draw scholarship offers from Cal, North Carolina and Virginia Tech, obviously in addition to Stanford and Notre Dame.

Factoring in Keeley’s de-commitment, Mukam is the 23rd commit in the Irish class and third defensive end, joining consensus four-stars Brenan Vernon and Boubacar Traore. He may present as more of a project than either of them, but Mukam should not be the long-term type of project that current junior Alexander Ehrensberger has been and was always expected to be.

Coming from Germany, Ehrensberger’s main attribute was his size; he had not played against worthwhile competition. Mukam is playing at a decent level of high school football, adding some familiarity with the game to his wide wingspan.

Losing Keeley’s pledge obviously hurt Notre Dame’s recruiting, but pulling a trio of defensive ends like Vernon, Traore and Mukam should keep defensive line as the best position group on the Irish roster moving forward.

Keeley’s de-commitment did drop Notre Dame to No. 3 in the class of 2023 recruiting rankings, per rivals.com, behind Alabama and Ohio State. Such a fall was always more likely than not, simply given that the Tide and Buckeyes had not fully filled out their classes as the Irish sat at No. 1 with 20-plus commitments. While Texas is not far behind Notre Dame, it is a decent gap to No. 5 LSU and No. 6 Clemson.

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