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Freshman Focus: Isaac Rochell

Jul 25, 2013, 6:08 PM EDT

Isaac Rochell

Incoming defensive lineman Isaac Rochell is a lot of things on the football field. But what might make him one of the more interesting recruits in this class is what he isn’t: Drama.

Rochell’s recruitment was one of the quietest for a high profile player in recent memory. In an era where just about every elite defensive lineman turns into a recruiting battle until the end, Rochell’s eventual signing with the Irish had so few twists and turns that most Irish fans might be taking Rochell for granted.

While thousands of words and millions of worries were dedicated to Eddie Vanderdoes, Rochell will walk onto campus as one of the top prospects in the country along the defensive line that nobody seems to be talking about. He’s a big, strong and powerful defensive lineman playing a position that the Irish need to replenish, and is another recruiting victory that Brian Kelly and staff had over SEC powers, with the help of young assistant Scott Booker.

Let’s take a closer look at Isaac Rochell.


In just about every other recruiting class, Rochell is the type of guy that would have Irish fans jumping for joy. An elite defensive line recruit with offers from Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Michigan and a few dozen other programs, Rochelle has the type of upside that has Kelly and his coaching staff very excited.

“He’s going to play on the defensive line, and he’s going to impact this program,” Kelly said. “I think he’s got a huge upside, and we’re really excited about getting a player of this caliber here to Notre Dame.”

Rochelle was a consensus Top 125 player across the board for just about every recruiting service.


With the injury to Chase Hounshell and the departure of Eddie Vanderdoes, Rochell has the chance to make an early dent in the depth chart. Looking at this season, behind the locked in starting three of Stephon Tuitt, Louis Nix and Sheldon Day, where Rochell slots in among guys like Tony Springmann, Justin Utupo and Jarron Jones will be interesting to watch.

While we’ve heard nice things about fifth year player Tyler Stockton, he might be a rotational player at the nose with Kona Schwenke. Likewise, a guy like Utuopo might have been just a flash in spring practice, but might never be heard from again. That said, expecting numbers out of Rochell that exceed what Day did last year as a true freshman is probably asking too much, especially considering Day had a spring semester to prepare him for college football.

Like the offensive line last season, the Irish defense up front might be caught in a talented-but-thin predicament and a talented guy like Rochell could be the beneficiary.


With an offer list like the one Rochell possesses and a size and skillset that this staff covets, it’s not hard to think big things are in Rochell’s future. (Tight end coach Scott Booker, who led the charge for Rochell, believes he’s athletic enough to play tight end for the Irish.) That said, the timing of Rochell’s breakthrough will likely correspond with the departure of Stephon Tuitt.

Still, the Irish depend on a solid rotation of players in the front seven to power the defense and a guy like Rochell might find his way into that rotation the day he steps foot on campus. After one or two seasons behind Tuitt, Rochell could work his way into becoming a two year starter — or three if he’s able to redshirt this season.

In a defense like the Irish’s, finding athletes like Rochell are essential to the overall health of the defense. With the chance to develop and learn behind one of the country’s elite defensive lines, Rochell should be a future staple of front sevens to come.

  1. irishaggie - Jul 25, 2013 at 6:46 PM

    I think eventually Sheldon will shift inside due to his height and Isaac will take one of the starting end spots. If Stephon returns next season those three will start.

    • shaunodame - Jul 25, 2013 at 7:14 PM

      I’m not sure why you think a 6’2″ 285 guy makes more sense as a Nose Tackle in the 3-4. He’d be enormously undersized in that role on Diaco’s D.

      The only time Sheldon as a DT makes sense is when he bumps down in our 4-3 looks.

    • irishaggie - Jul 25, 2013 at 7:37 PM

      It would be more of a sacrifice move rather than a strategic move. He is undersized for a NT but unless Jarron or Tony really light it up I think coaches will move him inside and Isaac at end to have more speed and height on the edge. We are slim at NT next year and there arent many candidates.

      • shaunodame - Jul 25, 2013 at 9:39 PM

        okay gotcha, I understand where you’re coming from now.

        I always thought that Jarron Jones looked more like a NT then a DE, but he continues to be listed as a DE only. He might be a little underweight right now (if you can REALLY call a guy who’s one Twinkie away from 300lbs underweight), but he certainly has the frame to add more girth, he’s listed at 6’5″ on UND. With that height I gotta believe he could easily play around 320+

  2. 25kgold - Jul 25, 2013 at 8:10 PM

    He’s going to be good!

  3. dudeacow - Jul 25, 2013 at 8:44 PM

    True dat. I keep worrying that we won’t have any great defensive ends, and after the Vanderdoesn’t saga, I’m worrying that we won’t have a great line at all. But I keep forgetting about this stud. Stephon Tuitt 2.0 coming up!

    • shaunodame - Jul 25, 2013 at 9:40 PM

      In Diaco We Trust lol

    • irish4006 - Jul 27, 2013 at 12:43 PM

      The whole Vanderdoes thing is overrated. You want people who want to be here. He is a big time athlete, so what? If you look at the list of top 100 athletes, we are getting about 4/5/6 of them, in a good year. Think about the other 94/95/96, we are not getting, it will help you get over something you didn’t have to be too upset about to begin with. He was never a lock and flip flopped all the way up to and beyond NSD.

      Isaac Rochell, on the other hand, is a great story. I remember his dad’s quote (“ND gets him…”), that pretty much summed it up all for me. I think he will be a great player.

  4. danirish - Jul 26, 2013 at 10:25 AM

    Let me play the role of FNC: (here we go, ahem!)

    Well the SEC teams probably didn’t really want him and he likes drama? Come on, he’s soft! Doesn’t matter because Kelly will be fired after the 2014 season were as this soft, drama kid will have transferred away because Kelly stinks. Whah, whah, whah….

    How was that? Did I nail it?

  5. fnc111 - Jul 26, 2013 at 9:14 PM

    And you will be the first one calling for Kelly’s head after he loses to scUM again this year.

    Kelly does an excellent job of keeping his recruits on campus. He really follows that RKG guideline. How many 4/5 star guys does he have committed to only let them get away? I think it’s well in the double figures now.

    While you’re on your knees pleasing CBK don’t be blind to the fact if Tuitt leaves the DLine will be a joke next year because of his “RKG” model.

    Kelly for President!!! He can do no wrong! Oh well except for the fact he doesn’t know how to pick or develop a QB while at ND. You know the same thing Joe Montana said. I’m sure Joe doesn’t know as much as you tough guys do. Golson was not an RKG from the get go. Why was he at ND in the first place?

    • danirish - Jul 26, 2013 at 10:53 PM

      Wait, wait, wait – “I’m sure Joe doesn’t know as much as you tough guys do.” Ok, so you do? With your constant predictions? We don’t know squat but you know Kelly is going to be fired after you said that he would leave for the NFL – what’s next? Alien abduction? If you read more than ND news I see a lot of school not holding onto players and let’s look at the players lost – I’m not going into character issues but its been documented who and why we lost them.

      Golson what? The guy was a first year player with academic issues – a lot of people inside/outside ND were very hyped on him – he was developing fine – it was the classroom that killed him. Didn’t he just get a commitment from a qb at the Elite 11 camp? Oh yes, he did! He sure sucks at picking them! And that Zaire fellow, fah!

      Your vulgar on your knees comment further leaves the impression that you know very little and can’t take it when someone calls out your silliness.

      Now there is some good arguments here but between the occasional comment from dickasman and a few silly trolls your posts are ridiculous and you say we know nothing yet claim you know all. You’re like Randy Quaid in Major League and its time, like the movie, for everyone chorus a good “Shad dup!”

    • mediocrebob - Jul 27, 2013 at 12:18 PM


      You really have no clue of what you’re talking about. None of those players left bc of Kelly except maybe Kiel. And that was more of a depth chart issue. None of those guys that left would’ve been there without Kelly in the first place. Ad oh yeah…12-1 last year when you predicted…6 losses? Remind me again?

      But we’ll all take your word for it.

  6. irish4006 - Jul 27, 2013 at 12:51 PM

    I would rather have 10 five stars sign up and lose five than not having any in the first place. Of course, losing a player for reasons other than graduation, draft or academics is bad; but that is bad regardless of a player’s star rating and something that deserves a deeper look.

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