Less than a week after the Irish received the pledge of five-star linebacker Jaylon Smith, Brian Kelly locked in another highly-touted recruit, Georgia’s Isaac Rochell. The 6-foot-5, 260-pound defensive end is a consensus top 150 player in the country, with Rivals ranking him the No. 8 defensive end and the No. 88 player overall. Sporting News lists Rochell as the No. 61 player in the country.
Rochell has said he was 99 percent certain about Notre Dame after visiting campus for the second time last week, and he made the decision within days of returning home to Georgia.
“I just didn’t want to make any rash decisions,” Rochell told IrishSportsDaily.com. “I felt like I needed to show my brother what Notre Dame was about and he loved it just like the rest of my family. I decided that I didn’t want to wait any longer because I can’t really see another school matching what Notre Dame has to offer.”
Rochell’s offer list is incredibly impressive, with Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Michigan and a dozen others all trying to land one of Georgia’s best players. Two years after snatching Stephon Tuitt away from the Peach State, Kelly — led by area recruiter Scott Booker — pulled in Rochell, an incredibly important piece of the defensive puzzle.
By all accounts, Rochell seems to be as talented off the field as on it. A good student with a strong commitment to his faith, the fit with Notre Dame seemed to be perfect. Jake Brown at IrishIllustrated.com caught up with Rochell’s father Steve, who has the quote of record on the commitment:
“I’m going to try and articulate this because the majority of people don’t get this,” Steve Rochell told Irish Illustrated. “The reason Isaac likes Notre Dame is because Notre Dame really gets Isaac. In other words, Georgia or Florida, they only see Isaac, and he knows this, they see him as a football player. As a number. You know what I’m saying?
“They don’t see him as a whole person. And there’s a lot more to Isaac than just playing football. Isaac likes Notre Dame because he knows Notre Dame really understands him.”
The Irish also understand that they are getting an immensely talented football player. If it’s possible, Rochell looks a svelte 6-foot-5, 260 pounds, moving incredibly well as both a power player and a pass rusher. There’ll be every opportunity to put more weight on Rochelle, but from the looks of his highlight reel, he’ll also walk in with some immediate pass rush ability.
Rochell’s commitment makes 14 for the class of ’13. He’ll pair with Jacob Matuska as defensive ends in Bob Diaco’s system, two more 6-foot-5 defenders to add to a roster that continues to grow.