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Irish A-to-Z: Pete Mokwuah

Jul 27, 2014, 12:59 PM EDT

Photo property of Rich Clark Photo property of Rich Clark

It didn’t take long for Brian VanGorder to put his stamp on the Notre Dame defense. And before he coached a single game or practice for Brian Kelly, VanGorder went out and identified freshman defensive tackle Pete Mokwuah.

While some players recruitments take years, Mokwuah’s took minutes. And with Rutgers waiting to pick Mokwuah up for his official visit, the Staten Island product committed to Brian Kelly on the spot, giving the Irish a key defender at a position of need in the recruiting cycle’s final weeks.

Let’s take a closer look at the Irish’s newest defensive tackle.

6’4″, 315 lbs.
Freshman, No. 96



As mentioned before, Mokwuah’s recruitment was short, but efficient. After being committed to Rutgers since May, Mokwuah got an offer from Notre Dame and gave a commitment pretty much instantaneously.

Not on any Top 250 list, Mokwuah still has the raw materials that you look for in a defensive tackle, and Kelly talked about what they expect from Mokwuah on Signing Day.

“A shorter recruiting period for us, but Pete was a great fit for us, and looking to augment our defensive line position, we wanted to find the right profile young man,” Kelly said.  He’s Nigerian. We’ve had a great Nigerian connection here, Romeo Okwara, Prince Shembo, just to name a few, and then Pete was able to the connect Catholic institution, he goes to a Catholic school.  That profile fit very well for us. A kid that’s serious about his academics here at Notre Dame.  All very good profiling for us in terms of the right fit here at Notre Dame and a 6’4″, 315‑pound defensive lineman, pretty good fit there, too.”



If a program is going to chase a recruit at a position of need late, the very best thing they can do is take a guy with exceptional size and potential. Those attributes seem to describe Mokwuah, who looks the part of a destructive defensive lineman at 6-foot-4 and 315 pounds.

Even if he isn’t quite as big as his recruiting profile indicates (that won’t be the first or last time), Mokwuah looks to follow in the mold of a Jarron Jones type, and could slide into the 3-technique spot at defensive tackle, adding some much needed bulk at the position. Watching high school tape, you see a player that’s constantly double-teamed, though still finds an opportunity to make plays.

Perhaps the best thing Mokwuah brings to the Irish defense is another big body, the type of player that’ll allow Notre Dame to shift back to a three-man front, with Mokwuah potentially playing nose guard.



There’s no pressure on Mokwuah to step onto the field and play in 2014. While the depth chart isn’t the deepest up front, it could benefit Mokwuah to spend a year watching, learning and growing even larger under Paul Longo’s guidance.

But it’ll be interesting to watch Mokwuah’s development at Notre Dame — mostly to see if VanGorder was able to quickly identify a contributor at defensive tackle in just a few weeks of work, especially after spending most of the last decade in the NFL. Transition recruiting periods are always difficult, and the personnel needed in VanGorder’s scheme is different than what Bob Diaco was looking for.

But Kelly acknowledged casting a wider net at defensive tackle after being incredibly selective, and it resulted in Daniel Cage and Mokwuah joining the class when they weren’t even on the radar at Thanksgiving.

Ultimately, what should make Mokwuah succeed at the collegiate level is his size and versatility. And while he’s only been on campus since June, his newest nickname certainly shouldn’t have Irish fans upset.



The Irish A-to-Z
Josh Atkinson
Nicky Baratti
Alex Bars
Hunter Bivin
Grant Blankenship
Jonathan Bonner
Justin Brent
Kyle Brindza
Chris Brown
Jalen Brown
Greg Bryant
Devin Butler
Jimmy Byrne
Daniel Cage
Amir Carlisle
Austin Collinsworth
Ben Councell
Scott Daly
Sheldon Day
Michael Deeb
Steve Elmer
Matthias Farley
Tarean Folston
Everett Golson
Jarrett Grace
Conor Hanratty
Eilar Hardy
Mark Harrell
Jay Hayes
Matt Hegarty
Mike Heuerman
Kolin Hill
Corey Holmes
Chase Hounshell
Torii Hunter Jr.
Jarron Jones
DeShone Kizer
Ben Koyack
Christian Lombard
Tyler Luatua
Cole Luke
Nick Martin
Greer Martini
Jacob Matuska
Cam McDaniel
Mike McGlinchey
Colin McGovern

  1. bernhtp - Jul 27, 2014 at 1:27 PM

    Smart recruiting move: take an undeveloped guy with a large physical upside due at the last minute to fill an open spot.

    • johngaltisspeaking - Jul 28, 2014 at 10:27 AM

      Being a large guy is not a large guy with talent. IF and only if this guy pans out he might make an impact in 3 or 4 years.

      • texasirishfan - Jul 28, 2014 at 10:45 AM

        Wow, your glass is always half empty. Do you face all of life that way, or just ND football?

  2. johngaltisspeaking - Jul 27, 2014 at 1:36 PM

    Well friends it looks the tide is changing USC just landed our top OLB prospect Daelin Hayes from MI. The USC team we once knew is on its way back.. From a positive side lets see if USC can knock of a Mighty SEC Team because we didn’t have enough fire power to do it. Enjoy the win this year IF we get it because it could be the last time ND beats USC.

    • notredameirish1980 - Jul 27, 2014 at 3:42 PM

      Go back to poetry; at least that has some entertainment value. Or better yet, take your anti-depressants.

    • irishmob89 - Jul 27, 2014 at 4:04 PM

      Yep John, you and your beloved Trojans are going to do great things with Seven Win Steve. I’m not sure why you continue to hang around here when there are plenty of USC message boards out there where you can kiss USC’s ass.

    • johngaltisspeaking - Jul 27, 2014 at 8:48 PM

      It’s hard to swallow the facts… USC is gonna be making a run at a NC in just a few years.

      • papadec - Jul 27, 2014 at 9:58 PM

        C’mon jg – you can do better than that prediction. usc, ucla, stanford, oregon (just in the PAC-whatever), along with bama, auburn, fla, geo, tex, ohio st, mich, fsu, (just to name a few) & ND, make a run for the NC every year. The problem usc has in filling your fantasy is that those PAC teams & ND aren’t the doormats that you would like to believe they are. How many years of losing to ucla & ND will it take for sc to can Sark?

      • irishmob89 - Jul 28, 2014 at 12:29 AM

        That isn’t a fact, it’s an opinion…and your opinions on here are pretty much irrelevant and delusional.

      • johngaltisspeaking - Jul 28, 2014 at 11:18 AM

        USC will out recruit ND every year starting 2015…. Soon you will realize the only reason ND beat USC is because of Sanctions. If it wasn’t for Sanctions we would have won maybe 1 game. Notre Dame just can’t land the elite talent to compete with the big boys.

      • blackirish23 - Jul 28, 2014 at 2:09 PM

        J.Galt, as you’re clearly “clairvoyant” on USC’s future National Championship, care to hook me up with some factual details that I can take to Vegas? I’d like to place a bet similar to what Rory Mcilroy’s father did with his bet that his son would win the British Open before his 25th birthday.

        If you put your money where your mouth is using your “clairvoyance” and let me know when USC will be winning the NC, we could make some real dough in Vegas. What do you say man???

      • blackirish23 - Jul 28, 2014 at 2:11 PM

        PS – just so we’re clear, we would be using YOUR money to bet since you’re so confident. After we win, I will pay you back from the winnings what I was supposed to bet. Sound fair??

      • johngaltisspeaking - Jul 28, 2014 at 3:14 PM

        Sorry I never bet on black

    • DPU Man ND Fan - Jul 27, 2014 at 10:38 PM

      OMG, USC has landed a verbal from a 2016 4-star LB? You must be right then – the end is near!

      Little secret for you: SC landed utterly awesome talent under Whiffen Kiffen… and they utterly sucked. Oh, but now they’ve got a new coach that has a lifetime 34-29 record, so again you must be right that their future awesomeness is virtually assured.

      I would personally wait at least a few games before engraving USC on all future Rose Bowl and/or NC trophies, but that’s just me. I am, however, prepared right now to engrave your name atop the Putz HoF trophy.

      • papadec - Jul 27, 2014 at 10:50 PM

        No fair!!!!! It’s an uncontested award.

    • johngaltismyfriend - Jul 31, 2014 at 11:09 AM

      USC also picked up 3 star RB Aca’cedric Ware. But USC’s 3 stars are better than ND’s 3 stars, right John?

  3. johngaltisfelching - Jul 27, 2014 at 8:02 PM

    Hamsters are so cheeky

  4. fnc111 - Jul 27, 2014 at 9:10 PM


  5. fnc111 - Jul 27, 2014 at 9:22 PM

    A few years? That would leave them at underachieving for close to a decade. That’s pathetic on USC’s part if you ask me. Spoiled Children have every built in advantage. They can pay their players, don’t force them to go to class and the campus is in freaking So Cal. Pretty embarrassing that teams in the state of Alabama are doing better than a place located in the second biggest city in the US.

    • johngaltisspeaking - Jul 28, 2014 at 12:20 PM

      Get over the pay your players crap… ND got busted for the same thing via a booster… Pat Haden is turning the USC program around. First school in CFB History to offer 4 year scholarships to ALL SPORTS. USC isn’t afraid to play anyone so they go out and schedule the best that CFB has to offer – Alabama. I hate to say it but that game in 2016 will steal the spotlight from the ND and Texas game. USC is a recruiting machine and they will end up with as much depth as Alabama in about 3 years. Top Talent

      • irishmob89 - Jul 28, 2014 at 12:41 PM

        Cheat on…U$C Trojans. It’s only a matter of time before YOUR beloved Trojans get busted again. That’s right John, YOUR Trojans. That’s okay, once U$C and Steve struggle, you’ll just jump on the SEC bandwagon and root for their best team.

      • johngaltisspeaking - Jul 28, 2014 at 12:52 PM

        So wait I am an SEC fan and a USC fan… HA good one ! You delusional Irish fans just can’t swallow the truth.. At least as a true Irish fan I can at least come to grips with the reality that we just are not the same program. USC even under Sark will still come within 7 of Alabama.

      • irishmob89 - Jul 28, 2014 at 3:54 PM

        A “true Irish fan” wouldn’t get so defensive if a fellow fan bashes their most hated rival. Stop the act John, we all know you get a hard one for U$C and the SEC, whatever is more convenient at the moment. If anyone needs to come to grip with reality, it’s you. It will be a lot more healthy for you if you just pick one to root for. Both schools attract bandwagon fans like you, so I could easily see someone with your lack of knowledge cheering for either school. Good luck with the decision process!

  6. oldschoollyons - Jul 27, 2014 at 10:09 PM

    Keith, your article is a masterpiece of implication (“If a program is going to chose a recruit at a position of need late…”; “Perhaps the best thing is…another big body”; VanGorder spent most of the last decade in the NFL, where he didn’t recruit; he chose Mokwuah after being on the job for only a few weeks; it will be “interesting” to see how BVG’s quick first choice works out). He seems like an extremely nice and serious young man. Although he played against third-rate opposition in high school, his size is indeed an asset. If he contributes at ND, it will be a great story.

  7. idratherbeinsouthbend - Jul 27, 2014 at 11:06 PM

    J Galt…just found one of your family videos…

  8. irishdog80 - Jul 27, 2014 at 11:09 PM

    Over the past 5-7 years Missouri, Michigan State, Purdue and other programs have done a solid job of identifying 3 star defensive linemen and developing them into all conference and NFL players. It is one thing to take a 6’4″, 225 lbs 3 Star like KLM and turn him into a 300 pounder and a very different process to take a 6’4″ 315 pound 3 star like Mokwuah and turn him into a productive college d-linemen. I have to believe the Mokwuah process will be easier. Despite playing against inferior competition, he still looks pretty athletic for a very large person. Convert some of that weight to muscle and then pack on a few more pounds and you have a player that is born to be a d-linemen, not one that had to put 80 pounds on in college to become one…no disrespect to KLM.

    • johngaltisspeaking - Jul 28, 2014 at 11:20 AM

      Sounds unhealthy..

  9. yaketyyacc - Jul 28, 2014 at 5:56 AM

    Mokwuah has the height and size. what about speed and agility? still, I trust Van Gorder to know and see the type of talent he needs to form an aggressive, unrelenting, and savage defense, that will make opposing quarterbacks think that Notre Dame defensive linemen are part of their backfield.

  10. mattymill - Jul 28, 2014 at 2:08 PM

    Am I the only one who wonders why other posters continue to respond to johngalt? There have been a few trolls on here over the past year, and when we finally stop replying, giving thumbs up or thumbs down . . . they eventually go away because it gets boring for them when they are being ignored. Any way we can agree to ignore this dude so he will stop filling up each article with his comments?

    • johngaltisspeaking - Jul 28, 2014 at 4:02 PM

      Yes but I speak truth and wisdom to those who do not possess a profound knowledge of Notre Dame Football. Its a big leap from the truth and calling someone a troll. I say to you mattmymill take your negativity somewhere else.

  11. johngaltisspeaking - Jul 28, 2014 at 4:13 PM

    I guess I am not the only USC SEC fan who thinks this year is going to be a mess. Many are calling for a loss against Michigan this year on 247… We can never get past even the worst of teams. Michigan should tear us a new one with our inexperienced Defense. Gardner looks like Cam Newton last year against our stout ” FAT ASS” defense.

  12. rocket1988 - Jul 28, 2014 at 4:20 PM

    Here goes dumbass john again. Get your facts straight.
    1) Kim Dunbar was a baby mama to one of NDs players. Nothing like Joe McKnight or cough Reggie Bush who received lavish gifts illegally.
    2) Sark is just like Lane. You couldn’t score any 2nd half pts at ND last year with all that talent they recruited. Until Cheaty Poodle Petey comes back with Norm Chow, So. Cal will be middle of the road in Pac12.
    3) The Detroit Lions wouldn’t have come within 7 pts of Bama that night. Let alone a guy who’s topped out at 8 wins for his coaching career.
    4) Hayes said his favorite player is J. Smith, I think this is to get Hayes exposure because of the small high school he plays at.
    Do us all a favor and go back to the wild west blog and spread your trash there.
    GO IRISH!!!

    • johngaltisspeaking - Jul 28, 2014 at 11:21 PM

      I find it funny how you rip on kiffen when he has a better record at USC then Kelly has at ND.

      • DPU Man ND Fan - Jul 28, 2014 at 11:56 PM

        I find it funny how you do math. 37-15 (Kelly at ND) > 28-15 (Kiffen at USC).

  13. golfboy66 - Jul 28, 2014 at 4:58 PM

    I’m with you, mattymill. True dat. We’ve allowed this knucklehead to amuse us for awhile, now it’s time for him to go. Everybody should approach this as they choose to individually, of course, but I for one am done. Besides, his non-existent writing skills, poor punctuation and spelling, and complete lack of sentence structure would be offensive to a ten year old. Trying to understand his gibberish is like listening to fingernails on a blackboard. So see ya, jg. Won’t miss you when you’re gone. I hope other posters here will just choose to ignore you as well.

  14. DPU Man ND Fan - Jul 29, 2014 at 12:03 AM

    OK, I’m in. jg, you were a somewhat amusing putz, but I’m done with you now. You are dead to me.

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