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Notre Dame gets the letters: Consensus four-star defensive ends NaNa Osafo-Mensah and Howard Cross

NANA OSAFO-MENSAH
Nolan Catholic High School; Fort Worth, Texas.
Measurements: 6’4”, 220 lbs.
Accolades: Consensus four-star; All-American; No. 9 defensive end in the class, per rivals.com, No. 24 prospect in Texas and No. 200 overall.

Other Notable Offers: Osafo-Mensah’s recruitment came down to Notre Dame and Texas, and he took the suspense out of it back in May. Whether a byproduct of the Irish success this season, an effect of the early signing period or just a sign of Osafo-Mensah’s resolution, his commitment was never in doubt.

Projected Position: Defensive end.

Quick Take: Osafo-Mensah looks like an ideal end for defensive coordinator Clark Lea’s system, though if that is at drop or rush may yet need to be determined. He has the agility for the former, the frame to hold the size for the latter.

Short-Term Roster Outlook: Notre Dame should be two-deep at both end positions next season with its current juniors, presuming both Julian Okwara and Khalid Kareem spurn the NFL. At that point, Osafo-Mensah’s snaps will be limited, but he will still presumably see playing time and probably in more than four games. Irish head coach Brian Kelly has long argued a talented defensive lineman is not going to hang around college for five years, anyway, so might as well turn him loose right away.

Long-View Depth Chart Impact: Three of those four aforementioned juniors will be out of eligibility after 2019, at which point Osafo-Mensah very well could emerge as a starter — another reason for him to get some live reps as a freshman.


(rivals.com)

HOWARD CROSS
St. Joseph’s High School; Montvale, N.J.
Measurements: 6’2”, 245 lbs.
Accolades: Consensus four-star; Gatorade New Jersey Football Player of the Year; No. 27 defensive end in the class, per rivals.com, and No. 8 prospect in New Jersey.

Other Notable Offers: Michigan, Northwestern and Boston College all sought Cross, as did a number of other Big Ten and ACC programs.

Projected Position: Defensive end.

Quick Take: Cross can both shove a blocker upfield and then turn his pursuit after a mobile quarterback. His overall skill set could use some development, but that should be expected at this point.

Short-Term Roster Outlook: Snaps will be sparse for Cross in 2019, but they will not be nonexistent. He should play in at least four games.

Long-View Depth Chart Impact: Come 2020, Cross will need to compete with current sophomore Kofi Wardlow and current juniors Jamir Jones and Ade Ogundeji for playing time, along with classmate Osafo-Mensah. Jones and Ogundeji will then be done, leaving a thin position group ripe for Cross’ impact.

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