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Notre Dame 99-to-2: No. 95 Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, defensive tackle

Navy v Notre Dame

SOUTH BEND, IN - NOVEMBER 18: Zach Abey #9 of the Navy Midshipmen is hit by Greer Martini #48 and Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa #95 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Notre Dame Stadium on November 18, 2017 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

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Listed Measurements: 6-foot-2 ½, 285 pounds
2018-19 year, eligibility: Sophomore with three seasons of eligibility remaining, including 2018.
Depth chart: Tagovailoa-Amosa will back up senior Jerry Tillery at three-technique tackle, meaning he will see plenty of action each week.
Recruiting: rated Tagovailoa-Amosa as a three-star prospect, but the other recruiting services split between three stars and four stars for the Hawaiian. His recruitment was quick and late in the cycle, but that was partly Tagovailoa-Amosa’s personal choice relating to island prep scheduling. The Irish coaches had to wait until the morning of National Signing Day to learn if they landed the interior possibility.

Tagovailoa-Amosa got his career off to a quick start, making three tackles in the season opener of his freshman year, including one for loss. He made appearances in all 13 games, totaling 12 tackles, 1.5 of which were behind the line of scrimmage.

To some degree, the talk of Tagovailoa-Amosa this offseason has been an attempt to explain his rise last summer. Perceived as a project in his rapid recruitment, Tagovailoa-Amosa instead became a productive piece immediately upon arrival, along with classmate Kurt Hinish.

“[Hinish] and Myron were able to make a quick jump over the incumbent players that were there because they played with great leverage, they played with their hands,” Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said in mid-April. “I’ve never met a defensive lineman that can get off blocks strictly on strength and technique. They just have to have that ‘it’ and that ability to shed, get off blocks.”

As one would hope and/or expect, the two young defensive tackles have continued to progress this offseason.

“I like the development of Kurt and Myron,” Kelly said at the end of March. “They just know their assignments a little bit better and they are so much more comfortable at knowing what to do.”

“Tagovailoa-Amosa’s autumn will be determined by two things: His actual current weight and the progression of the three players ahead of him in the aforementioned depth chart.

“… If he is more toward the 270 (pounds) mark, if not more after some time spent in a college weight program, then Tagovailoa-Amosa very well may be ready to give Notre Dame some worthwhile snaps in his freshman season. However, if that 250 mark is somewhat accurate, the season may be best spent on the sideline getting ready for the physicality of college football.

“Between [Pete] Mokwuah, [Micah] Dew-Treadway and [Eijah] Taylor, the Irish do not have a reliable backup for [Jonathan] Bonner. If one of those three emerges — remember Taylor suffered a LisFranc fracture in spring ball but is expected to be healthy by the end of the summer — then the need for Tagovailoa-Amosa to play in 2017 decreases drastically. If none of those three separates from the pack, though, Tagovailoa-Amosa could prove himself worthy of consideration with a strong fall camp, even if that would be in only a small sample size.”

Sure enough, Tagovailoa-Amosa emerged as the primary backup on the interior last season, beating out two upperclassmen. (Taylor never fully-recovered from the spring injury in time to be considered for playing time.) A position switch of the starting tackles means the sophomore will now play behind Tillery, not Bonner, but his actual position remains the same.

There is no question of Tagovailoa-Amosa’s place in the defensive scheme. Few, if any, defensive tackles take every snap of a game, and Tillery will be no exception. Tagovailoa-Amosa should ably pick up that slack, be it 15 or 30 snaps per game. That workload ought to lead to an uptick in his stats, but that will not be the metric of success for Tagovailoa-Amosa’s sophomore season. Rather, his ability to keep offense’s on their toes in Tillery’s stead will determine how often Tagovailoa-Amosa can be leaned on and how fresh he can keep Tillery.

The necessity and impact of that depth should not be underestimated. More than capable defensive line backups are what distinguish great college football teams from very good ones.

Tillery’s return for his senior year keeps Tagovailoa-Amosa from a massive jump in snaps between his freshman and sophomore seasons. That is both good for Tagovailoa-Amosa’s gradual development and for the Irish defense as a whole. In 2019, that will not be the case.

When he signed with Notre Dame, Tagovailoa-Amosa was listed at 250 pounds. Time in a collegiate strength and conditioning program quickly jumped that to the spring weight of 285. If he can add a bit more muscle to that in the next 15 months, Tagovailoa-Amosa should be ready to handle a starter’s snaps.

At that point, with two full seasons of playing experience, he will be both a ready and a deserving starter. Even if either incoming freshman tackle Jayson Ademilola or Ja’Mion Franklin makes great leaps immediately, it is unlikely a freshman defensive lineman shows up ready to make an impact from the outset two years in a row. Thus, Tagovailoa-Amosa will be primed to start in 2019 and lead the way on the defensive interior for two seasons.

NOTRE DAME 99-to-2:
No. 99 Jerry Tillery, defensive tackle
No. 97 Micah Dew-Treadway, defensive tackle

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