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Notre Dame 99-to-0: No. 93 Armel Mukam, incoming freshman defensive end, former Stanford commit

Armel Mukam

Listed measurements: 6-foot-4, 250 pounds
2023-24 year, eligibility: An incoming freshman, Mukam has all four seasons of eligibility remaining.Depth Chart: When Notre Dame signs a player it fully expects to be a long-term project, shoehorning him into the depth chart is an unnecessary chore. Mukam should fit into the “Big” end pecking order someday, but that day will not come in 2023.
Recruiting: Mukam had been committed to Stanford for about two months when the Irish offered him a scholarship shortly after five-star end Keon Keeley de-committed from Notre Dame. Mukam soon flipped to the Irish, also ignoring scholarship offers from Cal, North Carolina and Virginia Tech.

“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.”

Two Men And A Truck has nothing on the incoming freshmen. (Mukam is pictured in the first frame touting a pillow and some bedding while simultaneously rolling a suitcase.)

Notre Dame prefers length among its defensive linemen, and Mukam should provide it. He remains raw, though, as Irish head coach Marcus Freeman acknowledged when he signed in December.

“Very intelligent kid,” Freeman said. “He’s a good football player, you watch his film (and) he makes a lot of plays. Wasn’t really familiar with some of the schools he was playing, so you get to know him as an individual, and you say okay, ‘He’s an intelligent young man, loves the game of football, has those intangibles that we’re looking for.’

“I’m dang glad we got him because I think he’ll do some great things for us.”

Reread Freeman’s comments there and realize how little of it is applicable to 2023. Let’s paraphrase …

Mukam is smart, hence considering Stanford and Notre Dame. Playing smaller schools in Virginia, those plays he made were against inferior competition, limiting how practical those highlights were. But in talking with Mukam, he should pick up the game over time, and that is when those “great things” may become realities.

Some context to that framing: Mukam had played all of six games of football before his senior season of high school. His play in that small sample size, his drills’ performance and his size were still enough to draw offers from a pile of Power Five teams, including Notre Dame and Stanford. Others saw the same long-term possibilities that the Irish did.

But after just a season and a half of football, Mukam has plenty to learn. The Irish will take their time getting him onto the field, expecting him to be a five-year player and thus a scout-team defensive lineman this fall.

The easy comparisons will be to Ade Ogundeji, another long-term project at “Big” end in recent Notre Dame history. His career should be viewed as the absolute best-case scenario for any such player, including but not only Mukam.

Also 6-foot-4 and relatively under-experienced upon arrival to South Bend, Ogundeji finished his career with six sacks and 20 tackles in the 2020 season, then drafted in the fifth round by the Atlanta Falcons.

Ogundeji did not become a defensive contributor until his junior season. Give Mukam the same runway.

Editor’s Note: In laying out the summer’s content calendar, incoming freshmen needed to be slotted into the ongoing 99-to-0 series without knowing their numbers. Some educated speculation is applied, but mostly it is viewed as penciling in guesses with no harm incurred if wrong. The guess for Mukam was No. 9, but on Wednesday, Notre Dame updated its roster and revealed Mukam will wear No. 93, hence his appearing now out of sequence.

The summer countdown begins anew, Rylie Mills to Deion Colzie
No. 99 Rylie Mills, senior defensive tackle, moving back inside from end
No. 98 Devan Houstan, early-enrolled four-star defensive tackle
No. 97 Gabriel Rubio, junior defensive tackle, one of three Irish DTs with notable experience
No. 95 Tyson Ford, sophomore defensive tackle, up 30 pounds from a year ago
No. 93 Armel Mukam, incoming freshman defensive end, former Stanford commit
No. 92 Aidan Keanaaina, a senior defensive tackle now ‘fully healthy’ after a 2022 torn ACL
No. 91 Aiden Gobaira, sophomore defensive end, former four-star recruit
No. 88 Mitchell Evans, the next starter at ‘TE U’
No. 87 Cooper Flanagan, incoming freshman tight end, four-star recruit
No. 84 Kevin Bauman, senior tight end coming off a torn ACL
No. 83 Jayden Thomas, junior receiver, probable No. 1 target in 2023
No. 79 Tosh Baker, senior tackle, again a backup but next year ...
No. 78 Pat Coogan, junior interior offensive lineman
No. 77 Ty Chan, sophomore offensive tackle, former four-star recruit
No. 76 Joe Alt, first-team All-American left tackle
No. 74 Billy Schrauth, sophomore left guard, likely starter
No. 73 Andrew Kristofic, fifth-year right guard, likely starter
No. 72 Sam Pendelton, early-enrolled freshman offensive lineman
No. 70 Ashton Craig, sophomore interior offensive lineman
No. 68 Michael Carmody, senior offensive lineman
No. 56 Charles Jagusah, incoming freshman offensive lineman, four-star recruit
No. 55 Chris Terek, incoming freshman offensive lineman, four-star recruit
No. 51 Boubacar Traore, incoming freshman defensive end, four-star recruit
No. 17 Brenan Vernon, incoming freshman defensive end, four-star recruit
No. 13 Holden Staes, sophomore tight end, up 20 pounds in a year
No. 12 Penn State RB transfer Devyn Ford gives Notre Dame newly-needed backfield depth, experience
No. 4 Rhode Island transfer safety Antonio Carter gives Notre Dame desperately needed backline depth

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