Notre Dame’s greatest strength in 2019 will be its defensive line, specifically its defensive ends. In addition to NFL-caliber starters Khalid Kareem and Julian Okwara, the Irish enjoy depth with seniors Daelin Hayes, Ade Ogundeji and Jamir Jones. But each one of those names will be gone by the end of the 2020 season. Continued success and further Playoff-contention will depend on keeping the depth chart stocked at defensive end.
Thursday’s commitment of consensus four-star Jordan Botelho (St. Louis High School; Honolulu) will aid that cause. A linebacker in high school, Botelho’s 6-foot-3 frame can hold more than his current 230 pounds, making a collegiate move to weakside/drop end not only likely but also planned. (Seniors Okwara and Hayes weigh 240 and 268, respectively.)
His skill set already resembles Okwara’s, though obviously far from as refined. Botelho can drop into coverage — the first snap of the above highlight video shows Botelho jumping a route for an interception — but he is most comfortable rushing the quarterback, either through or around a larger tackle. Those similarities were part of Notre Dame’s recruiting pitch.
“My favorite part was probably the coach’s meeting with [defensive line coach Mike Elston], when he showed me my film and compared it to his players,” Botelho said to Blue & Gold Illustrated. “He’d show me a clip of me making a play and then his players doing the same thing. The position I’ll play is very similar to what I’m playing right now.”
The seventh commit in the Irish class of 2020, Botelho had plenty of options. All but two of the Pac-12 (Arizona, Stanford) chased him, though names beyond the West Coast pursued him, including Georgia, LSU, Oklahoma and Ohio State.
He is the third defensive linemen in the class, joining German defensive end Alexander Ehrensberger and rivals.com four-star defensive tackle Aidan Keanaaina.
Coming from Hawaii, Botelho will have the chance to line up alongside fellow islander junior defensive tackle Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa and in front of safety Alohi Gilman if Gilman chooses a fifth year of college football over entry into the NFL draft.