Listed Measurements: 6-foot-2 ¼, 240 pounds
2018-19 year, eligibility: Sophomore with four seasons of eligibility remaining, including 2018.
Depth chart: The excellent class of defensive ends a year ahead of Wardlow keeps him mired as the third-string drop end behind juniors Daelin Hayes and Julian Okwara.
Recruiting: A consensus three-star recruit, Wardlow switched to Notre Dame from a Maryland commitment at the last possible moment, making his decision on National Signing Day. The No. 47 defensive end in the country per rivals.com, Wardlow also considered offers from Michigan State and Virginia Tech.
CAREER TO DATE
Wardlow saw no action his freshman season, preserving a year of eligibility.
Lacking any truly elite specialty skill, Wardlow was always a likely sideline observant as a freshman. He nonetheless made an impression on Irish head coach Brian Kelly during the season.
“Kofi Wardlow, when he puts on some more size, has suddenness,” Kelly said in November discussing who had impressed with their scout team work.
It should be noted, Wardlow arrived at Notre Dame weighing closer to 210 pounds, meaning he has already put on a good bit of that heft.
WHAT WAS PROJECTED A YEAR AGO
“With only two falls of football to his name, it would be in Wardlow’s best interests to spend a season preserving eligibility and developing a deeper understanding of the game, not to mention a more college-ready physicality. That is also the most-likely scenario, unless it is deemed he is needed on special teams. For these purposes, let’s presume that will not be the case. Irish special teams coordinator Brian Polian has openly wanted more bodies for his units, but in doing so he referred to linebackers and safeties. Wardlow may have a lithe body, but he is very much a defensive end, not a linebacker.”
It is tough to see a path to consistent playing time for Wardlow this season. Hayes’ all-around game continues to develop and Okwara may soon become a bona fide pass-rusher. That junior class also includes Khalid Kareem and Ade Ogundeji, bookending the other side of the line.
As much of a hindrance to his career as that quartet of junior ends may be, Wardlow is also the beneficiary of the Irish signing only one defensive end in the class of 2018, not to mention the departure of the only other end signed in 2017 (Jonathan MacCollister). That kind of void in the roster could work out perfectly to Wardlow’s benefit, not just because there are so few others to compete with once those juniors have moved on.
It also means no one has leaped past Wardlow in the coaching staff’s minds, and he will have a lengthy chance to grow into the prospect imagined. Speaking of which …
DOWN THE ROAD
Wardlow did not play football until his junior year of high school. In every way, he remains very young and raw. When his national letter of intent arrived during Kelly’s press conference on National Signing Day 2017, Kelly compared him to former Irish defensive end Romeo Okwara, Julian’s older brother and current New York Giant. That comparison was not just in reference to the common position; it was also an acknowledgement of how much Wardlow can still be molded into form.
That would presumably take more than one season. It will likely take at least two. Even if Wardlow does not begin making an impact until 2020, that will be partly due to the successes of Hayes and Julian Okwara. Having those playmakers around to spare Wardlow the pressure of playing before he is ready sets him up to grow into the player Kelly was alluding to and hoping for. Again, this fall is only Wardlow’s fourth on a football field.
NOTRE DAME 99-to-2:
No. 99 Jerry Tillery, defensive tackle, senior
No. 97 Micah Dew-Treadway, defensive tackle, senior
No. 95 Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, defensive tackle, sophomore
No. 94 Darnell Ewell, defensive tackle, sophomore
No. 93 (theoretically) Ja’Mion Franklin, defensive tackle, incoming freshman
No. 91 Ade Ogundeji, defensive end, junior
No. 90 (theoretically) Tommy Tremble, tight end, incoming freshman
No. 89 Brock Wright, tight end, sophomore
No. 88 Javon McKinley, receiver, junior
No. 87 Michael Young, receiver, sophomore
No. 86 Alizé Mack, tight end, senior
No. 85 George Takacs, tight end, early-enrolled freshman
No. 85 Tyler Newsome, punter and captain, fifth-year senior
No. 84 Cole Kmet, tight end, sophomore
No. 83 Chase Claypool, receiver, junior
No. 82 Nic Weishar, tight end, fifth-year senior
No. 81 Miles Boykin, receiver, senior
No. 80 Micah Jones, receiver, early-enrolled freshman
No. 79 (theoretically) Cole Mabry, offensive tackle, incoming freshman
No. 78 Tommy Kraemer, right guard, junior
No. 77 (theoretically) Jarrett Patterson, offensive tackle, incoming freshman
No. 76 Dillan Gibbons, offensive lineman, sophomore
No. 75 Josh Lugg, offensive lineman, sophomore
No. 74 Liam Eichenberg, starting left tackle, junior
No. 73 (theoretically) Luke Jones, offensive lineman, incoming freshman
No. 72 Robert Hainsey, right tackle, sophomore
No. 71 Alex Bars, left guard and captain, fifth-year senior
No. 70 (theoretically) John Dirksen, offensive lineman, incoming freshman
No. 69 Aaron Banks, offensive tackle, sophomore
No. 57 Trevor Ruhland, offensive lineman, senior
No. 57 (theoretically) Jayson Ademilola, defensive tackle, incoming freshman
No. 55 Jonathan Bonner, defensive tackle, fifth-year senior
No. 54 John Shannon, long snapper, junior
No. 53 Khalid Kareem, defensive end, junior
No. 53 Sam Mustipher, center and captain, fifth-year senior
No. 52 Bo Bauer, linebacker, early-enrolled freshman
No. 48 (theoretically) Shayne Simon, linebacker, incoming freshman
No. 11 Freddy Canteen, receiver, outgoing transfer