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Notre Dame veteran DE Justin Ademilola heads to the NFL, forgoing final season

Notre Dame defensive end Justin Ademilola will forgo his final collegiate season and instead head to the NFL. After five seasons with the Irish, including six starts this year, Ademilola announced Friday morning he will jump to the next level.

Admeilola’s twin brother, defensive tackle Jayson, is out of eligibility and already heading to the NFL draft.

Justin had 37 tackles in 2022, sixth on the Notre Dame defense and second among defensive linemen, trailing only consensus All-American Isaiah Foskey. Ademilola added 3.5 tackles for loss including three sacks and four additional quarterback hurries, as well as a fumble recovery.

He had two tackles in the Irish 45-38 Gator Bowl victory against No. 19 South Carolina on Dec. 30.

His departure is a bit of a surprise but may underscore how impressive he was in a contributing role the last couple seasons. Ademilola presumably received encouraging draft feedback, at least encouraging enough to think a roster spot awaits him in the NFL.

That presumption is based on the reality that Ademilola would have started for Notre Dame in 2023, likely taking over Foskey’s role as the primary pass rusher. This past season, Ademilola served both as Foskey’s backup and his opposite-side complement.

Instead, Ademilola finishes his Irish career with 109 tackles and nine sacks in 50 games.

As the lesser-heralded of the twins, his recruitment was sometimes perceived as an add-on, but the Notre Dame coaching staff clearly saw something more than that in Ademilola, given it rationed his appearances as a freshman to include one in the College Football Playoff while still persevering a year of eligibility. While the Irish were blown out, Ademilola was one of the few players who looked like he belonged on the field against Clemson in 2018.

Since then, Ademilola has been outshined only by future NFL players, first Khalid Kareem and Ade Ogundeji, and then Foskey.

Without him, Notre Dame’s defensive line depth chart suddenly looks a touch thin, though an incoming transfer could certainly change such. That may be somewhat swayed by recency bias, simply given that for the last few years, the Irish defensive line has been the deepest unit on the roster.

Rising senior Jordan Botelho may have finally had his breakthrough moment in the Gator Bowl, and he could replace Ademilola (and Foskey) as the next Vyper end, but behind him, there is no clear backup. Looking at the ever-evolving spreadsheet that serves as this space’s unofficial depth chart, the only names behind Botelho are rising sophomores Joshua Burnham and Aidan Gobaira, who saw a combined one game of action in 2022.

On the other side of the line, rising senior Rylie Mills already worked with Ademilola as the “Big” end, and Nana Osafo-Mensah also proved ready for a leading role. Rising senior Alexander Ehrensberger is the next name on that half of the depth chart, a German project who has started to show his development.

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