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Irish add key DT recruit Mokwuah, lose OLB Yeargin

Jan 24, 2014, 10:29 PM EDT

Photo property of Rich Clark Photo property of Rich Clark

Notre Dame’s recruiting class continues to take shape, with the Irish adding a key commitment on Friday in defensive tackle Peter Mokwuah. The Staten Island native flipped his commitment from Rutgers to Notre Dame on Friday after a visit from Brian Kelly to St. Joseph by-the-Sea High School.

At 6-foot-4, 315-pounds, Mokwuah gives the Irish a badly needed big body on the inside that can conceivably play in the Irish’s 3-4 scheme. Mokwuah was targeted by new defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder, and the Irish made quick work of adding a player at a position of need.

According to this report at, the recruitment of Mokwuah came fast and furious. And it turns out to have been effective as well.

“They offered him,” said Clark. “He was going back and forth on it all week on what to do. I think once he met with coach Kelly, and obviously the school speaks for itself.”

Notre Dame’s interest in Mokwuah heated up recently, according to Clark.

“He’s only really been talking to them for about a week and a half, two weeks,” said Clark. “Definitely not more than two weeks.”

New defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder had his introductory press conference on Jan. 15, and the next day he was on Staten Island to visit Mokwuah. VanGorder spent the 2013 season as the New York Jets’ linebacker coach and was previously defensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons.

“Coach VanGorder met with him for a while and was picking his brain to see him tick,” said Clark. “I guess they like what they heard.”

Mokwuah will take an official visit soon and sign with the Irish on February 5. His commitment comes the same day the Irish lost long-time commit Richard Yeargin III, who will likely sign with Clemson instead.

Yeargin was long thought of as a key piece of the puzzle at linebacker, the biggest position of need during this cycle. But the addition of several commitments in the last few months lessened the blow, and Yeargin is leaving things on good terms.

“I’m very thankful for the opportunity to have been selected by Notre Dame as one of their special kids that they decided to offer a scholarship to, but at this time I’ve decided to head in a different direction with my recruitment,” Yeargin told Blue and Gold Illustrated. I really do love Notre Dame and this wasn’t an easy decision, but it’s solely based on the best decision for me.”

Interestingly, Yeargin cites his relationship with Bob Diaco as one of the reasons for him departing, so the change at coordinator cuts both ways in this case.

With Justin Brent and Andrew Trumbetti already enrolled, the Irish recruiting class remains at 22.

  1. ndnapa - Jan 24, 2014 at 10:39 PM

    I don’t know why anyone would be surprised by Yeargin’s decommittment. I don’t think they’ll miss him because Kelly loaded up on edge rushers this year. Love the Mokwuah news, but I really want Sawyers and Cage even more. I think ND will get both of them. This will be another tremendous class. Great work, Irish!

    • dickasman - Jan 24, 2014 at 10:41 PM

      Lucky for me I’m not gonna fret because I have paid zero attention to recruiting this year unlike the past. Too stressful!

    • dickasman - Jan 24, 2014 at 10:57 PM

      Are you sure he didn’t switch because he wanted to wear Nike instead? Hmmmmmm

  2. dickasman - Jan 24, 2014 at 10:39 PM

    Since nd switched to under wear from Adidas, I’m not gonna be nd fan anymore I decided …

    • bernhtp - Jan 24, 2014 at 10:43 PM

      Are you switching to the Clemson board too? I hear escorts don’t like Under Armor.

    • ndfaithful - Jan 25, 2014 at 12:28 PM

      Great news!

    • ndfaithful - Jan 25, 2014 at 12:28 PM

      just kidding. sort of…

    • papadec - Jan 25, 2014 at 12:56 PM

      Sorry to see you leave dick – but don’t let the door hit you in the butt, on the way out.

      • bernhtp - Jan 26, 2014 at 9:52 PM

        Dick’s not leaving. If he did, who would provide us with escort, coke, and tranny humor? Maybe DeaconJack will oblige?

  3. mtflsmitty - Jan 24, 2014 at 10:55 PM

    Peter Mokwuah:
    Like Justin Brent did with the Irish, Mokwuah committed to Rutgers early in the process (May). When these guys are off the board they are often overlooked by recruiting services. As one poster above mentioned, he’s from Staten Island. Not exactly a hot bed. (6’2 and 305) + (Early Commit) + (Staten Island) = Undervalued 3-Star.

    Richard Yeargin:
    Football player in SE US, Major Hotbed. Was rated 4-star recruit early, and hence invited to loads of camps and showcases. After a full year being evaluated, he just lost his fourth star from Rivals.

    I think this was a great day for ND football.


  4. fnc111 - Jan 24, 2014 at 11:11 PM

    Total cop out by Yeargin. Sounds exactly like Anzalone. If the relationship was so big to him, why isn’t he heading to UCONN? Instead he is going to one of the worst defensive coordinators in the country.

    If I’m a LB wanting to go to The NFL, ND is my first choice with BVG there now. Yeargin knew he was going to Clemson before Diaco even left. Once again a kid uses the ND name all fall just to gain more publicity. RY knew he was going to sign with Clemson back in the spring. Kelly is continually recruiting these idiots like Yeargin, Anzalone and Darby…. Can’t he see they’re fake?

    • goirishgo - Jan 25, 2014 at 12:14 PM

      Venables is an outstanding DC as evidenced by years of success at Oklahoma and the job he did at Clemson LY where he inherited a terrible group that had given up 70 points in their last bowl game. As usual, you couldn’t be more wrong.

      But thanks for deviating from the racist crap you spew on other boards.

    • mtndguy - Jan 25, 2014 at 10:46 PM

      fnc, since you’re such a genius, and can see all the “fakes” before it’s apparent to the coaching staff, why don’t you show off your prowess, and make a list of the players out of the current 22 commits who are “fake”. Then when it becomes more obvious to those of us who aren’t as intelligent as you, we can all marvel at your genius.

    • runners00 - Jan 27, 2014 at 12:19 PM

      Ease up, Pal —

      We’re all fighting for the same crop of outstanding athletes. I know that everyone in South Bend thinks that we should only recruit “ND Guys” and “Right Kind of Guys,” but the bottom line is that we want highly competitive athletes who can fly — and who can block, tackle and go to school. And there are only so many of those.

      Darby has proven himself plenty capable and I am glad we chased him. It’s too bad he didn’t enroll at Notre Dame, but it’s okay. Life goes on. Anzalone played for a school that lost to Georgia Southern last year (he did rack up a tackle against Georgia Southern, though). I may be wrong — but this guy got a lot of publicity and yet I don’t see him in the same class as someone like Jaylon Smith.

      Things have a way of working out.

  5. mediocrebob - Jan 24, 2014 at 11:12 PM

    Saw Yeargin play on TV early in the season on ESPN. Kid is a stud athlete with a good frame. Tough loss, but we’ve heard these rumors about him for a while now. I’m sure he’ll do well at Clemson or wherever he lands.

    With losing him, however, the Irish would still take 2 more DT and hopefully Mckenzie and Quick. That would be a dream scenario which we know doesn’t happen often for the Irish. I’m not feeling good about JuJu but just my opinion. Think it’d be tough to leave his home family and uncle at $C.

    I wonder if this commitment changes anything for Cage and Sawyers. That’d be quite the turn of events to end up with all 3 of those big bodies.

  6. oldschoollyons - Jan 25, 2014 at 1:31 AM

    There is little doubt that Yeargin withdrew because ND has been stocking up on linebackers in the past month.

    You are right, Keith, when you say that the new big kid from Staten Island, could “conceivably” fit into ND’s scheme. One writer says he has to improve his conditioning and his overall technique, redistribute his weight, gain strength and stop coming in too high. In plain English, he thinks this kid is out of shape, has poor technique, is pudgy and weak, and gets pushed around by smaller guys. It’s easy to see why three services rate him the 52nd, 66th and 71st best tackle in his class and why Rivals doesn’t rate him nationally at all.

    The new DC made this kid his first priority because apparently we just couldn’t pass him up.

    • getsome99 - Jan 25, 2014 at 12:09 PM

      Maybe he evaluates talent and coaches them up better than the recruiting tabloids.

    • ndfaithful - Jan 25, 2014 at 12:32 PM

      I think there’s a certain degree of desperation on the DL recruiting too. A defection or an injury could result in ZERO stars playing big minutes. I hope this guy pans out.

    • mtflsmitty - Jan 25, 2014 at 6:44 PM

      I’m not sure how many stars Nix had when he came in. But he was known to be overweight and out of shape until he was a sophomore at ND. I’m interested to see how Mokwuah develops.

      • runners00 - Jan 27, 2014 at 12:22 PM

        I’ll tell you: he was a four-star rivals recruit and I think he was the fifth or sixth best defensive lineman in the class.

        Technique and speed are critical.

  7. dudeacow - Jan 25, 2014 at 9:12 AM

    Well, I always liked Yeargin. Mostly because he was a three star and then just about every school in the country offered him which moved him to a four star. I liked knowing we could pull a kid from everyone. Seemed pretty athletic but had a terrible 40 time. Mokwuah will get plenty of playing time whereas Richard would have been stuck behind Jaylon. I suppose this is a good trade, though. Now, lets sign Isaiah McKenzie, Terrance Alexander, JuJu Smith, Daniel Cage, Malik McDowell, and then have a backup like John Turner transfer and Dickerson’s dad get cleared. And then maybe we can pull a UCLA on UCLA. That would be sweet.

    • dmac4real - Jan 25, 2014 at 9:28 AM

      You want a kid to transfer from Notre Dame, simply because he is a freshman and and did not get playing time his first freaking year, and you want a recruit to fill his spot?

      A. Thats horrible. ND made a 4 year commitment to him, he thought it was right for him. Shame on you for wanting him to leave.

      B. Drop your expectations. Id be pleasantly surprised if we got 2 of those guys.

      • dudeacow - Jan 25, 2014 at 10:46 AM

        A: the coaching staff thinks he’s too slow. And not only did he sit as a frosh, he sat as a sophomore too. And it doesn’t look like he’ll have a chance to okay significant minutes at safety for the rest of his career. I want the kid to experience what it’s like to actually start for a team.

        B: what is this lowering of expectations you talk about? I cheer for Notre Dame, and it’s the offseason. We haven’t lost a single game this year! I have a right to be optimistic.

        By the way, I named 5 recruits (3 of which probably won’t come to ND) but we only have room for four. My bad.

      • dmac4real - Jan 25, 2014 at 12:22 PM

        “The coaching staff thinks hes too slow.” Im not saying this is wrong, but i have no idea how you would know this.

        “I want the kid to experience what its like to actually start for a team.”-
        -Um, do you know what he wants? As Notre Dame fans, we pride ourselves on the fact that committing to Notre Dame is a 40 year decision, not a 4 year one. That quote is the epitome of a 4 year decision. Maybe getting a Notre Dame degree is what he wants to experience. Maybe he wants to get a great education for free, go to a solid football school, and still only be 2 hours away from home. If he decides he wants to play elsewhere, then that is his decision. But it is ridiculous to root for a kid to transfer simply because he doesent get playing time.

        Also, I was wrong, he is a sophmore. Good call.

  8. irish4life79 - Jan 25, 2014 at 10:39 AM

    ok pick up here considering we got a need at DT and the new DC had him targeted a year of strengh condition and coachin he could be a viable option to get some snaps in year 2 tht said we could use a couple more DT’s in this class ofcourse expectin a all out press for DT’s in 2015 Lossed yeargin but we got alot of LBs in the class and. If Grace can come back we’ll be solid at LB the big DT from mich would be a solid get forget his name. Anyway as. Always. Cheer Cheer for ol ND

  9. shaunodame - Jan 25, 2014 at 11:27 AM

    Yeargin will be missed, but as I always say; If the kid doesn’t want ND we shouldn’t beat ourselves up wanting him in return. So I wish him the best at Clemson. And I’d rather see him go to Clemson anyway instead of flipping to UCLA, USC, Michigan or any number of rival schools. (UCLA is DEF a rival in recruiting, even if they aren’t on the field)

    While Yeargin’s recommit hurts, the addition of a DT (ANY DT!!) is a huge get for this class though. As other’s here have stated, as of late, we are flush with OLB/Edge-Rusher types. I personally am a HUGE fan of Jhonathon Williams, he’s my sleeper pick for being an absolute stud in the future.

    To round out this class, I hope we add at least one more DT or (even better) a true NT.

    But most of all, beyond anything else, I hope we add a speed/water-bug type athlete like McKenzie or Quick for K/P return and overall Offensive athlete purposes (think DAT or Harvin).

    • mcirish27 - Jan 25, 2014 at 12:59 PM

      Keep in mind, ND will be playing Clemson in the near future and we will not be playing Michigan. Even with the staggering number of LB’s we’ve pulled in this class, I think Yeargin could have risen above all of them outside. After a redshirt year, he would have had 2 full years to start after Jaylon graduates. Wish him the best but definitely he’ll definitely be missed.

  10. fnc111 - Jan 25, 2014 at 4:09 PM

    Only some idiotic ND fans would give my last comment a thumbs down. I state that ND has one of the best reasons for LB’s to come here and get a negative lol. I guess you’d rather have someone say BVG is crap? Fact is ND made a helluva hire for DC and recruits are continually still using the ND brand name to their advantage, even though they know where they’re going all along. Facts hurt cry babies. I’m starting to see why a fraction of the fan base defends constant 4+ loss seasons.

    • mtndguy - Jan 25, 2014 at 10:49 PM

      I don’t think that’s why you got the “thumbs down” on your previous post. I could be wrong, but perhaps it’s your arrogance.

  11. irishdodger - Jan 25, 2014 at 5:02 PM

    Get ready for another LB decommit. Texas just offered ND commit Kolin Hill. He has a visit planned but still claims he’s an ND commit. When he visits Austin, he will flip to Texas, so get ready for another anti-climatic signing day where the team continues to not be able to fill all 85 scholarships. May as well be on probation.

    • mayesdays - Jan 25, 2014 at 8:40 PM

      Good or bad they are all dramatic. Who are you kidding?

    • ndgoldandblue - Jan 25, 2014 at 11:46 PM

      Don’t worry, dodger. If that happens, Kelly will fill his scholarship by recruiting a quarterback, running back or wide receiver, and play him at a different position entirely (for which he’s probably ill-suited) or never play him at all. It doesn’t address the depth concerns, but it keeps that scholarship count at 85.

  12. mediocrebob - Jan 25, 2014 at 5:47 PM

    Quick question maybe somebody on here can answer for me. Our new DC has a great history with having good defenses with UGA in the sec and done well in the NFL. Here’s my question. How much experience does he have stopping true spread offenses? He didn’t see much in the SEC and didn’t see any in the NFL. With college football in the direction it is, with a lot of spread being used, could this be an issue?

    I know this has nothing to do with the article or recruiting. Just wondering.

  13. yaketyyacc - Jan 26, 2014 at 7:36 AM

    mokwuah, too slow, out of shape, etc. maybe van gorder sees a potential he can shape into a devastating defensive lineman. I believe this will be the case. as far as handling the spread, a good defensive coordinator not only accomplishes, but innovates.

  14. 1historian - Jan 26, 2014 at 8:43 AM

    Does anyone out there have some hints for me to be able to hold my breath for the next 10 days? Any comments would be appreciated.

    • papadec - Jan 26, 2014 at 11:40 AM

      1hist – forget holding your breath – start breathing into a paper bag.

  15. fnc111 - Jan 26, 2014 at 4:56 PM

    Sad news today coming out of Alabama. Paul Hargis has hanged himself inside a motel 6 after a weekend long standoff with local police.

    • papadec - Jan 26, 2014 at 9:49 PM

      fnc – PH53 may be a pain-in-the-butt, most of the time. But, your post was just plain stupid. A poor attempt at humor.

  16. paulhargis53 - Jan 26, 2014 at 7:27 PM

    You wish…

    Not an Alabama fan.

    Its nice to know I’m on your mind though, even when I’m not posting on a story.

    • andy44teg - Jan 27, 2014 at 10:25 AM

      Paul’s obviously a Cleveland-area sports fan otherwise he would say who his teams are. (I fully expect you to deny this accusation, but you know it’s true!)

  17. deaconjack - Jan 27, 2014 at 9:57 AM

    Hold your breath.

  18. fitz79 - Jan 27, 2014 at 10:16 AM

    Let’s not forget that recruiting at Notre Dame is a special challenge because you need to find kids with not only a “big body” but also a big brain, so to speak. But Kelly and co. do an excellent job!

  19. paulhargis53 - Jan 27, 2014 at 10:57 AM

    Why would I go ahead and tell you who my teams are? What fun would that be?

    I will tell you this, I am not a fan of any teams from the State of Ohio.

    You know, this grounds been covered before. How will you know if I’m not a ND fan in disguise? I have been accused of being Nudeman(which I’m not).

    No, I will just go on not telling you my team because it just seems to bother you all so much.

    So, to recap:

    Not Alabama
    Not Ohio State
    Not USC.

    • andy44teg - Jan 27, 2014 at 11:21 AM

      I’m thinking more like the Browns/Cavs/Indians…perpetual losers.

      • bernhtp - Jan 27, 2014 at 1:25 PM

        Seriously, why does it matter and why do you care?

      • andy44teg - Jan 27, 2014 at 3:14 PM

        Chillax, berno

  20. paulhargis53 - Jan 27, 2014 at 12:57 PM

    Nope, not a fan of any of those teams. Why would I be? I’m not from Ohio.

    Not that it makes a difference:

    Are those really my teams?
    Or did just pick the teams with the most titles? (Steelers with 6 superbowls)

    Who cares what team I root for? This is a ND site, we are here to talk about the Irish and how they will never win another National title.
    Who my team is, is irrelevant.

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