Between the current senior trio of Julian Okwara, Khalid Kareem and Daelin Hayes and the freshman class yet to entirely arrive at Notre Dame, the Irish signed just two four-star defensive linemen: tackles Darnell Ewell (class of 2017) and Jayson Ademilola (2018). Notre Dame will not make that mistake again, a corrective trend buoyed Monday evening by the commitment of consensus four-star defensive end Rylie Mills (Lake Forest High School; Ill.).
Mills is the third four-star defensive lineman in the class of 2020, joining consensus four-star Jordan Botelho (St. Louis H.S.; Honolulu) and rivals.com four-star defensive tackle Aidan Keanaaina (J.K. Mullen; Denver), not to mention German defensive end Alexander Ehrensberger. The quartet make up nearly half of the nine Irish commitments already in the class.
Mills chose Notre Dame over Ohio State and Wisconsin, as well as offers from Alabama, Clemson, Georgia and Michigan, to name a few off a very long list that includes 12 of the Big Ten schools (excluding Maryland and Michigan State). The No. 10 defensive end in the class, per current rivals.com rankings, Mills has such size he overwhelms much of his current competition. At 6-foot-5 and 270 pounds, it would not be unreasonable for him to spend some time on the interior in college, if not full-time then in a passing-specific rush package.
His size swallows running backs in the backfield, yet Mills has enough agility to anticipate a cut attempt and enough speed to make a ball carrier run wide to reach the corner.
When he joins the Irish following the 2019 season, that two-year lull in defensive line recruiting will set up Mills for a chance at a quick impact. While there were five 4-star defensive linemen in the most-recent recruiting class, there will be opportunities abound, nonetheless. By the end of the 2020 season, Notre Dame’s current top-five defensive ends will have matriculated, leaving only current sophomores Justin Ademilola and converted-linebacker Ovie Oghoufo to compete with the current freshmen.
Similarly at tackle, Jayson Ademilola and 2017 three-star Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa will each have one more season of eligibility remaining at that point, but behind them will be only sophomore Ja’Mion Franklin and, again, the current freshmen.