He practiced patience in his recruitment, patience in waiting for playing time at Notre Dame and now Ade Ogundeji’s patience during the NFL draft has paid off with the Atlanta Falcons selecting the defensive end with the No. 182 overall pick in the fifth round on Saturday.
“Patience is definitely one of my virtues,” Ogundeji said this past season. “I always tell young guys, there’s going to be times where you feel like you should be playing but you’re not, but you always got to wait for that opportunity.”
Ogundeji’s opportunity came as a result of that patience.
Ogundeji arrived in South Bend after a slow recruitment finally picked up the summer before his senior year in high school. In that July (of 2015), he flipped his commitment from Western Michigan to Notre Dame, neither far from his home in West Bloomfield, Mich. He first flashed for the Irish as part of the defensive end rotation in 2018, including being one of the few Notre Dame players who looked up to the task against Clemson in the 2018 College Football Playoff, but thanks to 2020 draftee Khalid Kareem, Ogundeji did not have a starting role until this past season.
All four of #NotreDame’s 2016 defensive end signees turned into NFL Draft picks.
-Ade Ogundeji (5th round 2021, Falcons)
-Daelin Hayes (5th round 2020, Ravens)
-Julian Okwara (3rd round 2020, Lions)
-Khalid Kareem (5th round 2020, Bengals)
— Patrick Engel (@PatrickEngel_) May 1, 2021
He made that count, leading the Irish with seven sacks and adding seven more quarterback hurries. The most notable of those sacks came in the second overtime against No. 1 Clemson on Nov. 7. On the Tigers’ first snap of that added period, Ogundeji got to quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei. A play later, Daelin Hayes sacked Uiagalelei, and before long students had rushed the field to celebrate the upset.
Ogundeji is the eighth former Irish player picked in this draft, tying a Brian Kelly-era record set in 2014.
The last time Notre Dame exceeded eight draftees was 1994 when 10 Irish players were drafted. With offensive lineman Tommy Kraemer still a draft probability, setting a new high for Kelly’s tenure is expected, but it would take both Kraemer and perhaps cornerback Nick McCloud to still be drafted to reach 1994’s peak. Receivers Javon McKinley and Bennett Skowronek, tight end Brock Wright and cornerback Shaun Crawford are unlikely to be drafted.