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Notre Dame 99-to-2: No. 18 Nana Osafo-Mensah, freshman defensive end, consensus four-star

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: APR 13 Notre Dame Spring Game

SOUTH BEND, IN - APRIL 13: Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Phil Jurkovec (15) battles with Notre Dame Fighting Irish linebacker Nana Osafo-Mensah (18) in action during the Notre Dame Football Blue and Gold Spring game on April 13, 2019 at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, IN. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Listed Measurements: 6-foot-3 ⅛, 235 pounds.2019-20 year, eligibility: An early-enrolled freshman, Osafo-Mensah has all four seasons of eligibility remaining, including 2019.Depth chart: Notre Dame has at least three strongside defensive ends ahead of Osafo-Mensah at this point, no matter how impressive of a preseason he might put together.
Recruiting: The consensus four-star prospect and All-American, Osafo-Mensah chose Notre Dame over his homestate Texas. rated him the No. 9 defensive end in the class and No. 200 recruit overall upon his signing, though a poor showing at the All-American Bowl dropped that positional ranking to No. 23 and the national slotting off the board. Consider those drastic movements a ripe example of the reactionary nature of recruiting rankings.

That drop in recruiting accolades late in the cycle aside, Osafo-Mensah arrived on campus in January as the type of prospect upon whom many expectations are steeped. In a moment of rational thought, Irish defensive coordinator Clark Lea tempered this a bit at the end of spring practices, even though March and April generally went well for Osafo-Mensah.

“Nana being new to college … you’re giving those guys room to make mistakes, room to grow physically,” Lea said.

“Osafo-Mensah looks like an ideal end for defensive coordinator Clark Lea’s system, though if that is at drop or rush may yet need to be determined. He has the agility for the former, the frame to hold the size for the latter.”

It would be a relative shock if Osafo-Mensah appears in more than four games this year. No matter how college-ready he may appear, already complete with decent pass-rush moves, there is only so much a freshman can do to overcome a stacked depth chart.

Each side of the Notre Dame line is two-deep in established veterans who can no longer preserve a season of eligibility. On one side, sophomore Justin Ademilola also joins that mix, while on the other, senior Jamir Jones is expected to appear in four, but no more than four, games.

That is all to say, even as a reserve, Osafo-Mensah’s impact will be minimal, at most.

That depth will remain in front of Osafo-Mensah at strongside end next season, but it will essentially have vanished at drop end. While he may make more sense on the strongside, any change in the defensive end rotation will lead to more playing time for Osafo-Mensah.

Along with classmate Isaiah Foskey, a contributing role should await Osafo-Mensah in 2020 and he should be set up to start as a junior once Jones and senior Ade Ogundeji use up their eligibility.

NOTRE DAME 99-to-2:
No. 95: Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, defensive tackle
No. 94: Isaiah Foskey, freshman defensive end, consensus four-star
No. 94: Darnell Ewell, defensive tackle
No. 91: Ade Ogundeji, defensive end
No. 90: Hunter Spears, defensive tackle, early-enrolled consensus four-star
No. 89: Brock Wright, tight end
No. 88: Javon McKinley, receiver
No. 87: Michael Young, receiver
No. 85: George Takacs, tight end
No. 84: Cole Kmet, tight end
No. 83: Chase Claypool, receiver
No. 80: Micah Jones, receiver
No. 78: Tommy Kraemer, right guard, three-year starter
No. 77: Quinn Carroll, offensive tackle, early-enrolled consensus four-star
No. 76: Dillan Gibbons, offensive guard
No. 75: Josh Lugg, offensive lineman
No. 74: Liam Eichenberg, left tackle, two-year starter
No. 73: Andrew Kristofic, offensive tackle, early-enrolled consensus four-star
No. 72: Robert Hainsey, offensive tackle, three-year starter
No. 71: John Olmstead, offensive lineman, early-enrolled consensus four-star
No. 69: Aaron Banks, left guard
No. 60: Cole Mabry, offensive tackle
No. 57: Trevor Ruhland, veteran backup offensive lineman
No. 57: Jayson Ademilola, defensive tackle
No. 56: John Dirksen, offensive lineman
No. 56: Howard Cross, incoming freshman defensive lineman, consensus four-star
No. 55: Jarrett Patterson, starting center
No. 55: Ja’Mion Franklin, defensive tackle returning from injury
No. 54: Jacob Lacey, consensus four-star defensive tackle, early enrollee
No. 54: John Shannon, long snapper
No. 53: Khalid Kareem, senior defensive end
No. 52: Zeke Correll, consensus four-star center, early enrollee
No. 52: Bo Bauer, linebacker, sophomore
No. 47: Kofi Wardlow, junior defensive end
No. 45: Jonathan Jones, senior inside linebacker
No. 44: Jamir Jones, senior defensive end
No. 42: Julian Okwara, senior defensive end
No. 41: Kurt Hinish, junior defensive tackle
No. 40: Drew White, junior inside linebacker
No. 39: Jonathan Doerer, junior kicker
No. 35: TaRiq Bracy, sophomore cornerback
No. 35: Marist Liufau, Hawaiian freshman linebacker
No. 34: Jahmir Smith, sophomore running back
No. 34: Osita Ekwonu, inside linebacker, consensus four-star
No. 33: Shayne Simon, sophomore linebacker
No. 31: Jack Lamb, sophomore linebacker
No. 30: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, junior linebacker
No. 29: Ovie Oghoufo, sophomore linebacker-turned-defensive end
No. 27: J.D. Bertrand, consensus four-star linebacker
No. 25: Braden Lenzy, speedy sophomore receiver
No. 24: Tommy Tremble, sophomore tight end
No. 24: Jack Kiser, early-enrolled freshman linebacker, Mr. Indiana Football
No. 23: Litchfield Ajavon, four-star safety, freshman
No. 23: Kyren Williams, early-enrolled freshman running back
No. 22: Kendall Abdur-Rahman, quarterback-turned-receiver, freshman
No. 22: Asmar Bilal, the only returning starting linebacker
No. 21: Jalen Elliott, three-year starting safety
No. 20: Shaun Crawford, defensive back returning from yet another injury
No. 20: C’Bo Flemister, sophomore running back
No. 19: Jay Bramblett, freshman punter
No. 19: Justin Ademilola, sophomore defensive end
No. 18: Joe Wilkins, sophomore receiver