Listed measurements: 6-foot-5, 245 pounds.
2021-22 year, eligibility: The one class on Notre Dame’s roster with clear eligibility parameters, Onye has four seasons of eligibility remaining.
Depth Chart: Fifth-year Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa and senior Justin Ademilola will split the vast majority of Notre Dame’s snaps at the “Big” end, backed up by junior NaNa Osafo-Mensah and then the development project that is sophomore Alexander Ehrensberger. All of which is to say, Onye will spend 2021 on the Irish scout team.
Recruiting: Recruits from Rhode Island rarely draw much attention, especially ones who barely played in high school, but the consensus three-star and No. 44 defensive end in the class, per rivals.com, still earned offers from Michigan, Penn State and Virginia Tech, among others.
WHY MAYBE NO. 38?
Onye wore No. 48 in high school, but early-enrolled freshman defensive end Will Schweitzer was handed those digits this spring. Without delving too deep into these thoughts, No. 38 is open on Notre Dame’s roster and that is about all the logic needed for this exercise.
Actual jersey numbers for the incoming freshmen should begin trickling out in the next few weeks.
UPDATED IN MID-JULY
Onye will wear No. 47, per some updates on Notre Dame’s athletics website.
NAME, IMAGE, LIKENESS
As NIL legislation becomes reality and as Onye matures, an ideal world exists in which he both collects a small check from Smashburger and educates more people on Nigerian history and culture. With all due respect to and want for the young man getting fair compensation, that latter possibility would be more unique and serve a greater audience.
— Jason Onye (@jason_onye) December 16, 2020
Both recruiting services and Notre Dame listed Onye at 245 pounds when he signed with the Irish, but by February, defensive line coach Mike Elston acknowledged that number was far from accurate.
“Jason is going to be a big end for us,” Elston said. “Right now he’s 275-280 pounds. He’s going to be a huge end, as we call it right now. He gives us some good position flexibility. Maybe he goes in and plays some three-technique (tackle), but we’re excited for Jason’s development.
“He’s super tall, long and athletic. Twitchy enough to give us great pass rush. He’s going to be on the edge to start and see how he goes.”
WHAT WAS SAID WHEN ONYE SIGNED
“Onye has played only one full season of high school football, with a second hopefully coming this spring. He is rawer than raw, and given Mike Elston’s penchant for developing talent of late — Ogundeji being Exhibit A — a pile of clay the size and shape of Onye should turn out quite well. …
“The universal eligibility mulligan courtesy of the coronavirus may mean Ademilola still has three seasons of eligibility remaining, but it should be assumed he will leave no later than after his fifth year in 2022. By that point, Onye will have doubled his football experience, literally, and added some muscle to his frame to ready for an increased role.
“If that frame continues to grow, a possibility part and parcel with a prospect this raw, then a move inside to tackle would not be surprising.”
Onye will take some to develop, an assumption supported by a number of facts. The first of those is a Notre Dame luxury: The Irish have plenty of defensive line talent, experience and depth.
The rest apply to Onye more specifically. Rhode Island is not known for its football talent. That is less a knock on Onye and more an acknowledgment that he will need to adjust to the collegiate talent level even more than most freshmen.
Furthermore, Onye injured his foot during his senior basketball season, which then cost him Rhode Island’s spring football season. He has not played a competitive snap in nearly two full years, and even then, Onye was raw, playing only one full season of high school football.
He already has the size needed to compete at the next level, but development as a whole awaits Onye, development that will be his focus in 2021. It may be such an emphasis that he does not even appear in a blowout of Toledo.
DOWN THE ROAD
Onye’s career will be curious to watch unfold. Wherever he currently is between 245 and 280, he is already big. If he adds much weight, he will inevitably move inside to three-technique. If, however, he can maintain length as his primary attribute, then a long-term development could be in store.
Here is where, once again and getting to a point of being an Irish cliché, an Ade Ogundeji comparison can be made. Ogundeji combined length with underrecognized size to go from underwhelming recruit to NFL draft pick. That should be held up as the ideal for any projects Elston pulls in, including Onye.
NOTRE DAME 99-TO-0
Let’s try this again
No. 99 Rylie Mills, sophomore defensive tackle
No. 98 Alexander Ehrensberger, sophomore defensive end
No. 97 Gabriel Rubio, early-enrolled freshman defensive tackle the size of a Volkswagen
No. 95 Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, fifth-year defensive tackle-turned-end
No. 92 Aidan Keanaaina, sophomore defensive tackle
No. 88 Mitchell Evans, early-enrolled freshman tight end, a former high school quarterback
No. 87 Michael Mayer, star sophomore tight end and lead offensive weapon
No. 85 George Takacs, senior tight end, ‘152 years old’
No. 84 Kevin Bauman, sophomore tight end
No. 82 Xavier Watts, sophomore receiver
No. 81 Jay Brunelle, speedy sophomore receiver
No. 80 Cane Berrong, early-enrolled freshman tight end
No. 79 Tosh Baker, sophomore offensive tackle
No. 78 Pat Coogan, incoming freshman center
No. 77 Quinn Carroll, junior offensive lineman
No. 76 Joe Alt, incoming and towering freshman offensive lineman
No. 75 Josh Lugg, fifth-year right tackle, finally a starter
No. 73 Andrew Kristofic, junior offensive tackle, possible backup center
No. 72 Caleb Johnson, early-enrolled offensive tackle, former Auburn commit
No. 70 Hunter Spears, junior offensive guard, former defensive tackle
No. 68 Michael Carmody, sophomore offensive tackle
No. 62 Marshall guard Cain Madden transfers to Notre Dame, likely 2021 starter
No. 57 Jayson Ademilola, senior defensive tackle
No. 56 John Dirksen, senior reserve offensive lineman
No. 56 Howard Cross, junior defensive tackle
No. 55 Jarrett Patterson, the best Irish offensive lineman
No. 54 Jacob Lacey, junior defensive tackle
No. 54 Blake Fisher, early-enrolled freshman left tackle, starter?
No. 52 Zeke Correll, junior, starting center
No. 52 Bo Bauer, senior linebacker, #BeADog
No. 50 Rocco Spindler, early-enrolled freshman offensive guard
No. 48 Will Schweitzer, early-enrolled freshman defensive end
No. 44 Devin Aupiu, early-enrolled freshman defensive end
No. 44 Alex Peitsch and No. 65 Michael Vinson, Irish long snappers, both needed
No. 41 Kurt Hinish, fifth-year defensive tackle, eventual record-holder in games played
No. 40 Drew White, fifth-year linebacker, three-year starter
No. 39 Jonathan Doerer, fifth-year kicker, using the pandemic exception