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Notre Dame 99-to-0: No. 48 Will Schweitzer, early-enrolled freshman defensive end

Will Schweitzer

Listed measurements: 6-foot-4, 215 pounds.2021-22 year, eligibility: The one class on Notre Dame’s roster with clear eligibility parameters, as an early-enrolled freshman Schweitzer has four seasons of eligibility remaining.Depth Chart: Wherever Schweitzer ends up in new Irish defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman’s scheme, he has time to develop. Either the early enrollee remains at drop/Vyper as he was eventually recruited for, the defensive end with some vague coverage responsibilities, or he becomes the corresponding linebacker, one with some blitzing responsibilities. In both spots, Notre Dame has at least a pair of more established players ready to split time.Recruiting: A consensus three-star and the No. 29 defensive end in the class, per, the California native chose the Irish over most of the Pac 12, as well as Virginia Tech, Michigan State and Arkansas. Of all those Power Five offers, Schweitzer originally committed to Nebraska.


Schweitzer’s recruitment may end up as the best case study of pandemic prospecting …

“Schweitzer is actually the last prospect I saw in person,” then-recruiting coordinator, now associate head coach Brian Polian said in December. “I was in Schwetizer’s school in January before the cycle ended and we haven’t been back out since. [Former Notre Dame defensive coordinator] Clark Lea and I loved him.

“The issue when he was a junior was that he was playing linebacker. He was 205 or 208 pounds. Why are you recruiting this guy to play the Vyper position when he’s standing up? You don’t see him pass rush that much, but his motor was so good and we knew because we had seen him, he’s got length, he is 6-foot-4-plus.”

All that is why the Cornhuskers were so interested in the first place, holding a Schweitzer commitment through two months of summer, the peak of pandemic uncertainty in college football. Throughout that time, the Irish could not see Schweitzer, not because of the Nebraska pledge, but because of the recruiting dead period induced by the pandemic. That slowed Notre Dame’s transition from viewing Schweitzer as a linebacker to viewing him as a possible defensive end.

“Through the summer, even though he was committed to Nebraska, we never stopped communicating with him and we were watching his body,” Polian said. “He’d send us photos and video and you’re seeing his body start to fill out.

“When the time was right and the numbers allowed it, we offered him and we felt great about it.”

WHAT WAS SAID WHEN SCHWEITZER SIGNED“Schweitzer fits a theme this recruiting cycle, of wondering if his rankings would have risen in a normal year, one with camps and a season for him. Instead, he will turn down the possibility of a preps spring season to enroll early.

“Agile yet physical, Schweitzer appears to have the tools that usually warrant more than a three-star ranking, though he will need to add both weight and strength.”

The next line in Polian’s comments on Schweitzer summed up what should be expected in 2021 …

“He is a guy that is gonna take some physical development, but his length, his twitch, his motor, we believe are going to lend himself to being a really good player.”

This will be a year of development for Schweitzer, at least some of it spent on the scout team. Even those reps will be valuable to Schweitzer given he did not have a senior season of football and his spring practice was halted by an injury akin to a patella issue, per head coach Brian Kelly.

DOWN THE ROADDefensive line coach Mike Elston insisted in February that Schweitzer would play Vyper, in part due to his length. It should also allow him some opportunities to showcase his coverage abilities, as well.

Freeman’s system relies on multiple-look fronts — camouflaging 3-linemen looks as 4 and vice versa. To do that, he needs either a blitzing-apt linebacker or a coverage-capable defensive end. The latter is the greater likelihood.

With that in mind, Schweitzer will have a chance to impress sooner than later. Current junior Isaiah Foskey may well have reason to head to the NFL after the 2021 season, and then only sophomore Jordan Botelho would be established at Vyper entering 2022.

Elston insists on rotating all his linemen, so someone will need to join Botelho.

Let’s try this again
No. 99 Rylie Mills, sophomore defensive tackle
No. 98 Alexander Ehrensberger, sophomore defensive end
No. 97 Gabriel Rubio, early-enrolled freshman defensive tackle the size of a Volkswagen
No. 95 Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, fifth-year defensive tackle-turned-end
No. 92 Aidan Keanaaina, sophomore defensive tackle
No. 88 Mitchell Evans, early-enrolled freshman tight end, a former high school quarterback
No. 87 Michael Mayer, star sophomore tight end and lead offensive weapon
No. 85 George Takacs, senior tight end, ‘152 years old’
No. 84 Kevin Bauman, sophomore tight end
No. 82 Xavier Watts, sophomore receiver
No. 81 Jay Brunelle, speedy sophomore receiver
No. 80 Cane Berrong, early-enrolled freshman tight end
No. 79 Tosh Baker, sophomore offensive tackle
No. 78 Pat Coogan, incoming freshman center
No. 77 Quinn Carroll, junior offensive lineman
No. 76 Joe Alt, incoming and towering freshman offensive lineman
No. 75 Josh Lugg, fifth-year right tackle, finally a starter
No. 73 Andrew Kristofic, junior offensive tackle, possible backup center
No. 72 Caleb Johnson, early-enrolled offensive tackle, former Auburn commit
No. 70 Hunter Spears, junior offensive guard, former defensive tackle
No. 68 Michael Carmody, sophomore offensive tackle
No. 62 Marshall guard Cain Madden transfers to Notre Dame, likely 2021 starter
No. 57 Jayson Ademilola, senior defensive tackle
No. 56 John Dirksen, senior reserve offensive lineman
No. 56 Howard Cross, junior defensive tackle
No. 55 Jarrett Patterson, the best Irish offensive lineman
No. 54 Jacob Lacey, junior defensive tackle
No. 54 Blake Fisher, early-enrolled freshman left tackle, starter?
No. 52 Zeke Correll, junior, starting center
No. 52 Bo Bauer, senior linebacker, #BeADog
No. 50 Rocco Spindler, early-enrolled freshman offensive guard

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