Notre Dame looks to have landed a future building block in the trenches in defensive lineman Khalid Kareem. At 270 pounds and just a semester into his relationship with strength coach Paul Longo, Kareem has the chance to have positional versatility while also providing a potentially dominant pass rush option.
A one-time Michigan State and Alabama commitment who ended up picking Notre Dame, Kareem was one of the Midwest’s premier defensive linemen, the kind of player you don’t often see picking the Irish.
6’3.5″, 270 lbs.
Freshman, No. 53, DL
A Semper Fidelis All-American, Kareem was a consensus Top 250 recruit, the MLive.com’s Detroit Defensive Player of the Year and a first-team All-State player in Michigan.
He had offers from Michigan State, Ohio State, Stanford and was a one-time Alabama commitment before picking Notre Dame and enrolling early.
In a weird way, Kareem’s recruitment seemed to have undersold his value. Some of that could’ve been the fact that his separation with Alabama was reported to be mutual, and the fact that he walked away from a commitment from Michigan State before that.
But it’s hard to discount what Kareem did on the football field, exploding as a national prospect with a 19 sack junior season along with 85 tackles. While he didn’t duplicate those insane numbers as a senior (he still put up 36 TFLs and 16 sacks), he arrives in South Bend with some absolutely prolific stats in his high school career and a physical skill-set to back it up.
Whether he stays on the edge or slides inside to three-technique, Kareem has a high football IQ and talent at chasing down quarterbacks. Both of those things are tremendous assets and much needed as Brian VanGorder’s defense continues to look for ways to get pressure on quarterbacks.
I think Kareem sees the field this year, even if it’s just in a supporting role. He could be some much-needed depth behind Isaac Rochell, who could be used in multiple positions to help maximize his abilities.
There is so much to like about Kareem’s skill-set and his opportunity once Rochell graduates. If he continues to grow he can slide inside and provide a havoc-wreakor in the trenches. If he can keep his speed, he’s got a chance to be a starter as a sophomore when Rochell moves on to the NFL.
Maybe it’s because he enrolled early or because his recruitment had some roller coaster elements. But for all the groaning and grumbling about a lack of defensive ends in recruiting, if all goes according to plan the Irish could’ve landed two elite starters at defensive end for multiple seasons (out of the state of Michigan, no less) with Kareem and Daelin Hayes.
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