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Offseason cheatsheet: Defensive line

The final installment of the Offseason Cheatsheets, your Du Lac approved crib-sheets that’ll get you ready for the 2010 season. For more, check out the quarterbacks, running backs, tight ends, wide receivers, defensive backs and linebackers.


One of the only position groups long set in stone was the defensive line. With Brian Kelly bringing in Bob Diaco’s 3-4 defense, the starting personnel slid right into place with incumbents Ian Williams, Kapron Lewis-Moore and Ethan Johnson all prototypes for their spots along the line. Gone are the days of playing an undersized Ethan Johnson inside at tackle, he’ll be on the edge of a 3-4 defense, utilized at the position he was naturally recruited for. Lewis Moore will mirror Johnson on the other end, a perfect fit at a position he started at all of last season after a redshirt freshman year. Ian Williams will be the man in the middle, the best Irish defensive lineman since Trevor Laws, and a guy that has the potential to be a true disruptive force in the middle of the defense. Behind the starting three, there is little experience. Sean Cwynar represents the bulk of it, and he’ll be an important cog along the front, a disruptive presence that’ll contribute to the pass rush. For the Irish line to get the production they’ll need out of the defensive line, they’ll need to stay healthy and they’ll need to get production out of Emeka Nwankwo and Hafis Williams, two defensive ends that haven’t made a mark yet at Notre Dame.


Short a program? Here’s a look at every defensive lineman on the roster.

No. Name Yr. Ht/Wt. Hometown/High School
61 Martin Quintana Sr. 6-0/232 Berwyn, IL (St. Joseph)
62 Chris Skubis Sr. 6-2/232 Clarence, NY (Clarence)
67 Louis Nix Fr. 6-3/350 Jacksonville, FL (Raines)
68 John Belcher Sr. 5-11/235 Cheyenne, WY (Cheyenne Central)
89 Kapron Lewis-Moore Jr. 6-4/283 Weatherford, TX (Weatherford)
90 Ethan Johnson Jr. 6-4/285 Portland, OR (Lincoln)
91 Emeka Nwankwo Sr. 6-4/290 North Miami Beach (Chaminade-Madonna)
92 Tyler Stockton So. 6-0/290 Linwood, NJ (Hun School)
93 Bruce Heggie Fr. 6-6//250 Sorrento, FL (Mount Dora)
94 Hafis Williams Jr. 6-1/285 Elizabeth, NJ (Elizabeth)
95 Ian Williams Sr. 6-2/305 Altamonte Springs, FL (Lyman)
96 Kona Schwenke Fr. 6-4/245 Hauula, HI (Kahuku)
98 Sean Cwynar Jr. 6-4/280 McHenry, IL (Marian Central)
99 Brandon Newman Jr. 6-0/300 Louisville, KY(Pleasure Ridge Park)


On Williams: “Ian Williams, a very, very dynamic player for us. He’s a 600-pound squat now. He was 485. Here is a guy that’s going to play on the center and is now a 600-pound squat. He went from 302 to 313 and dropped his body fat composition.”

On defensive line depth: “We have to develop some of the players that are over there. Sean Cwynar has got to come up big for us, Hafis Williams has got to come up big for us, Brandon Newman has to come up big for us. Those are the guys we have to develop. It becomes a vulnerability. Hopefully it turns into a pleasant surprise for us more than anything else.”

On Heggie: “We felt like he was the guy that could do a number of things for us with his size. He’s just a smart, tough football player. Dad played at Florida State. Again, a man that can do a lot of things for us. He’s going to be a big, rangy player for us.”

Mike Elston on Johnson: “He’s learned from his mistakes and he’s bought into everything we’re trying to teach him. He wants to do it our way, and he’s getting it down our way. He’s going to be a very good football player.”

Elston on Schwenke: “Kona’s got power and he comes off the ball well. He’s got a good knowledge base of the game and he’s an excellent pass rusher.”


This position group holds the key to the Irish football season and if the Irish front can stay healthy, that bodes very well for the restructured defense. Expect big things from Ian Williams, who will work his way into the second round of the NFL Draft if he has the kind of season that many project. Kapron Lewis-Moore has been under the radar all fall camp, but that should come to an end next weekend, when he kickstarts a breakout second season with a great performance against Purdue. I’ve been hard on Ethan Johnson, but expect the offseason work he put in to help give him the power needed to succeed along the front line. While the reserves are largely a work in progress, it’ll be hard to keep Sean Cwynar off the field.


C+ It’s tough to give this group too good of a grade, just because there’s so little depth at defensive end. The front three have the chance to be very good players, but for the Irish to play BCS level football, they’ll need to over-achieve.