Blue and Gold Illustrated

June/July 2023

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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BLUEGOLDONLINE.COM JUNE/JULY 2023 23 BY PATRICK ENGEL J ordan Botelho is, by his own ad- mission, "a quiet guy." It checks out. One had to almost lean in to hear him speak earlier this spring as he stood behind a table in the Irish Athletic Center's second-floor lounge. A recorder on the opposite edge of the table might not have picked up his voice. April 13 was the Notre Dame se- nior-to-be defensive end's first media availability since enrolling in January 2020, fitting for a soft-spoken player outside the lines. This is Botelho off the field, or at least the image he wanted to portray. Gentle. Cautious. Reserved, but pleasant. On it? Strap up the helmet, and the persona does a full 180-degree turn. "I just love football," Botelho said. "My passion comes out." Anyone who has watched Botelho's 271 defensive snaps and 125 special teams plays the last three years knows that yes, that sounds about right. Practice view- ings in that time span have revealed the same. Botelho is a heat-seeking missile. Blocking him on kick returns ought to feel like trying to stop a tidal wave with sandbags. He doesn't just play to the whistle. He plays through it. That aggressiveness made his speed off the edge and burst off the snap hard to miss, even in his intermittent chances to showcase them. Botelho's sporadic usage has never been about a lack of physical tools. He had to prove he could harness them and keep that passion channeled in the right direction, on and off the field. Notre Dame is counting on him to meet the challenge of being a pass-rush staple in 2023. To do it, he will have to prove that a 2022 season of relative sta- bility, a stable home at vyper defensive end and breakout performance in the Gator Bowl was a preview, not an outlier. "I feel like I'm moving in the right di- rection right now, and if I can just stay at that level, just keep getting better every day," Botelho said. "Just limit the set- backs and just really get better every day." Botelho's 2-sack, 10-pressure day in the 45-38 win over South Carolina is good supporting evidence. Open view- ings of spring practice and the Blue- Gold Game contained disruptive flashes from him, highlighted by a strip-sack in the latter. If there was a significant on-field setback this spring, it went un- detected or unspoken. "Jordan has to take care of Jordan," defensive line coach Al Washington said. "He has to take care of his busi- ness. He has to take care of his body. He has to take care of the things that are important to him, keep the main thing the main thing, and everything else will take care of itself." The way Botelho measures a success- ful practice aligns with that focus. "By how many errors I've made," Botelho said. "Hopefully, I didn't make any, and that'll be a good day. And by my effort and running to the ball." Botelho merely being at Notre Dame suggests the main thing is top of mind most days. At first, it was anything but. He was sent home to Hawaii in the summer of 2020 for violating team CO- VID-19 protocols. His return was not without bumps either. An eventual channeled focus off the field, though, didn't lead to significant action on it. He played just 18 snaps in 2020. He didn't play on defense un- til the fourth game of 2021. That year, he had four games of at least 19 snaps and four with fewer than five. He was Senior Jordan Botelho is the expected starter at vyper after finishing the 2022 season with 11 tackles and 4.5 sacks. PHOTO BY JOSHUA BESSEX EARNING A CHANCE Jordan Botelho's opportunity is here, but reaching it was no small feat itself

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