Listed measurements: 6-foot-4, 254 pounds
2023-24 year, eligibility: An incoming freshman, Traore has all four seasons of eligibility remaining.
Depth Chart: To quote the penciled depth chart this space put together following spring practices, “No idea which end he should go to, just getting him on the depth chart [at Vyper end].” Traore is likely to be so far from playing time in 2023 that assigning him to either Vype or “Big” end would be merely an exercise in semantics.
Recruiting: Notre Dame began chasing Traore while he was committed to Boston College, and it did not take long for the Massachusetts native to forget about his six-month pledge to the Eagles when the Irish offered. The No. 24 strongside defensive end in the class of 2023, per rivals.com, and a consensus four-star prospect, Traore also received an offer from Michigan, but he never wavered once he joined Notre Dame’s class.
Sometimes coaches unintentionally shed light on how confusing the recruiting industry can be. Irish defensive coordinator Al Golden gave a slight insight into that in December when discussing Traore’s weight. Rivals.com lists the lengthy prospect at 254 pounds, but one would assume the Notre Dame coaching staff had a more accurate number in its files as it evaluated Traore.
“They all have a chance to compete early, and that’s going to be important, obviously, for depth,” Golden said. “[Traore’s] length, rangy, probably in that 240 (-pound) range right now. At some point here we’ll get him up to (255-260), I’m sure.”
The difference is much more than 15 pounds. It is time. If at 240 pounds, Traore will need to spend a year or so adding 15 pounds the right way. If he is already well into the 250s, then a couple months of collegiate strength and conditioning will fine-tune that mass.
NAME, IMAGE, LIKENESS
Happy Eid, indeed, Boubacar.
WHAT WAS SAID WHEN TRAORE SIGNED IN DECEMBER
“Do not overlook Traore. His sophomore year highlights quickly elicit a “Wow” reaction. He embraces blocks even as he makes a tackle. He drives an offensive lineman into the backfield before sliding off him and onto the quarterback. His quick first few steps on a pass rush put any offensive tackle at a disadvantage.
“Special teams work may await Traore. Preserving eligibility is less and less a need, given the realities of one-time transfers. Given Notre Dame’s excellent punt-block unit in 2022, that could be its own glamorous role.”
Regardless of his accurate weight, Traore will need time to develop. Each of his last three seasons was truncated, leaving him more raw than most freshmen.
The pandemic cut his sophomore season to four games, a foot injury wiped out a chunk of his junior year and a broken leg ended his senior season early. As much as any young player needs game reps to fully develop, Traore simply needs an extended stretch of practices.
That may seem a modest thought for a consensus four-star recruit, but those facts are rather unimpeachable. Traore has not had a full fall of practices in four years. Something that straightforward should go a long way in his development.
DOWN THE ROAD
Traore being exceedingly raw at age 18 fits in line with his family, and it bodes well. His older brother, Badara, began his college career playing at a for-profit college in New York City. He ended it starting three games on the offensive line for the 2019 national championship-winning LSU team with arguably the most explosive offense in college football history.
He now works on the Arizona Cardinals practice squad.
That is an exceptional jump, and it gives further credence to why Notre Dame saw fit to strongly one-up Boston College in Boubacar Traore’s recruitment. A better preps prospect than his older brother, if Boubacar develops at a similar rate, the Irish should have an impact defensive lineman on their hands.
That may take until 2025, both because of the defensive line depth chart and because that was how long it took for Badara to catch LSU’s eye. (“LSU’s eye” was an intentional phrase, because no matter how Notre Dame fans may feel about the Tigers nowadays, no one can argue the Baton Rouge midfield art is one of the most iconic in college football.)
WHY NO. 90?
Traore wore No. 8 in high school, but Irish linebacker Marist Liufau owns that number in South Bend. Guessing Traore’s collegiate number beyond that is an exercise in dart throwing, and those darts cannot land on No. 18 (cornerback Chance Tucker), No. 28 (cornerback Micah Bell) or No. 38 (do-everything fullback Davis Sherwood could conflict on special teams).
Instead, hypothetically giving Traore the No. 90 along with fellow incoming freshman end Brenan Vernon should hopefully have lent some default added context to the conversation.
NOTRE DAME 99-TO-0
The summer countdown begins anew, Rylie Mills to Deion Colzie
No. 99 Rylie Mills, senior defensive tackle, moving back inside from end
No. 98 Devan Houstan, early-enrolled four-star defensive tackle
No. 97 Gabriel Rubio, junior defensive tackle, one of three Irish DTs with notable experience
No. 95 Tyson Ford, sophomore defensive tackle, up 30 pounds from a year ago
No. 92 Aidan Keanaaina, a senior defensive tackle now ‘fully healthy’ after a 2022 torn ACL
No. 91 Aiden Gobaira, sophomore defensive end, former four-star recruit
No. 90* Brenan Vernon, incoming freshman defensive end, four-star recruit
No. 90* Boubacar Traore, incoming freshman defensive end, four-star recruit
No. 88 Mitchell Evans, the next starter at ‘TE U’
No. 86* Cooper Flanagan, incoming freshman tight end, four-star recruit
No. 85 Holden Staes, sophomore tight end, up 20 pounds in a year
No. 84 Kevin Bauman, senior tight end coming off a torn ACL
No. 83 Jayden Thomas, junior receiver, probable No. 1 target in 2023
Rhode Island transfer safety Antonio Carter gives Notre Dame desperately needed backline depth
Penn State RB transfer Devyn Ford gives Notre Dame newly-needed backfield depth, experience