Blue and Gold Illustrated

June July 2018

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

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46 JUNE/JULY 2018 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY DAVID MCKINNEY Notre Dame added another huge piece to its 2019 class May 19, when Fort Worth (Texas) Nolan Catholic four-star pass rusher and Rivals250 member NaNa Osafo-Mensah an- nounced his commitment to the Irish. Osafo-Mensah — the No. 160 overall player in the class of 2019 according to Rivals — chose the Irish over the in- state Texas Longhorns. He also boasted offers from Alabama, USC, Georgia, Texas A&M, Michigan, LSU, Florida and Oklahoma, among many others. The Lone Star State standout marked Notre Dame's 10th commit- ment in the 2019 class, which was rated No. 7 nationally by Rivals as of May 28. Rivals also ranks Osafo-Men- sah as the No. 17 prospect in Texas and the No. 6 outside linebacker nationally. The Irish plan to utilize him at drop end, and now have four pledges along the defensive line (two ends and two tackles) in this class. "Notre Dame needed an impact talent at drop end in the 2019 class and Osafo-Mensah gives the staff just that," Blue & Gold Illustrated football analyst Bryan Driskell said. "He is a powerful young player with an out- standing all-around game." Osafo-Mensah, who recorded 10 sacks among 18 tackles for loss dur- ing his junior season at Nolan Cath- olic, is the highest-rated defensive end to commit to Notre Dame since Daelin Hayes (No. 31) in the class of 2016. The Austin American-Statesman called him the top pass rusher in Texas and had him ranked No. 8 on the publication's Fab 55 list of the top rising seniors in the state. The Under Armour All-American said his mind was pretty much made up following his official visit to South Bend on the weekend of April 13. "I just liked everything about it. It really just felt like home," he said. "The players were awesome — they were just showing so much hospital- ity, even though we just met. They just made me feel like I was one of them already, and the fact that they are from all over the world is awesome." During the visit, Osafo-Mensah took in a spring practice and spent a lot of time with defensive line coach Mike Elston. Getting to watch his future position coach and teammates in action was a huge part of what led him to South Bend. "Seeing practice, that was a big thing for me, to see how the coaches are in practice," the Texas Associa- tion of Private and Parochial Schools all-state selection said. "Seeing how the players were, what they do, how they scrimmage and all that. It was pretty similar to how we practice. "The tempo was higher, as it was a college practice, but I liked it because Coach Elston incorporates so many different things that he teaches in the film room." During his recruiting process, Osafo-Mensah also built close friend- ships with his now fellow defensive line commits Hunter Spears and Jacob Lacey. Spears and Lacey joined Osafo- Mensah for the official visit weekend in April, and made a huge push for him leading up to his decision date. "We were all hanging out together the entire weekend," Osafo-Mensah said. "Whether we were going out to eat or hanging out with the players, it was never awkward between us, we felt like we were already on the team together. "We were all making jokes and chilling and everything — I know Hunter Spears and Jacob Lacey are two guys I have known for a while now, and we were all happy to get out there together." Of course, even with the solid of- ficial visit, the Irish still had to hold off Texas and a final official visit to Austin May 4. Although that visit went as well it could have gone for Osafo-Mensah, it wasn't enough to take momentum from Notre Dame. "It was awesome and I love every- thing about that place, too," Osafo- Mensah said of his visit to Texas. "I just felt that when I was on that visit to Notre Dame there was just some- thing right when I got there that I just knew that whether I play football or not I'm going to enjoy my time there." Osafo-Mensah added that making the decision to leave Texas wasn't a particularly hard one when he sat down and completely thought it over. "Being around Texas teams my whole life is cool," Osafo-Mensah ex- plained. "But I really wanted to have the opportunity to get out and meet some new people, and I knew Notre Dame could provide that for me." ✦ FILM ANALYSIS Strengths NaNa Osafo-Mensah plays all over the field and brings good positional flexibility to the roster … Possesses a strong frame with a thick lower half, long arms and impressive natural power … Violent and physical defender that is a playmaker against the run and pass … In- stinctive young defender that does a good job reading the quarterback's eyes on rushes and excels at locating and getting to the football … Fires off the ball with a quick first step, shows quality agility, top-notch balance and the clos- ing speed to thrive as an edge rusher. Areas For Improvement Will have to be more consistent with his burst off the line … At times he isn't as de- cisive as he needs to be, and he'll need to consistently work his feet through contact … Improving the timing of his hands on edge moves would make him an even more effec- tive pass rusher. — Bryan Driskell COMMITMENT PROFILE NANA OSAFO-MENSAH Irish Score Big With Rivals250 Pass Rusher Osafo-Mensah, Rivals' No. 160 overall player in the nation, chose Notre Dame over Texas and several others. PHOTO COURTESY RIVALS.COM "Notre Dame needed an impact talent at drop end in the 2019 class and Osafo-Mensah gives the staff just that. He is a powerful young player with an outstanding all-around game." BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED FOOTBALL ANALYST BRYAN DRISKELL

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