Notre Dame Football Recruiting 2012: Looking at the Linebackers and Defensive Line

Welcome to the third of a five-part, in-depth series on the 2012 Notre Dame football recruiting class. I unveiled the OFD average grades for the newest members of the Fighting Irish family on the day after NSD.

The grades for QB and RB can be found here.

The grades for OL and LS can be found here.

This installment focuses on the defensive front seven: DT Sheldon Day, DE Jarron Jones and OLB Romeo Okwara.

The transcript from Coach Brian Kelly's press conference on national signing day can be found here.


Official OFD Recruit Grading Scale:

95-100: Elite impact freshman with All-American potential

90-94: Multi-year starter with All-conference potential

85-89: Eventual starter with chance to play as underclassman

80-84: Raw prospect with decent potential but a couple years away from impact

75-79: Likely a backup

70-74: Reach by the coaching staff

Note: All Height/Weight/40 times as listed on 247Sports.com



DT Sheldon Day

Indianapolis, IN - Warren Central - 6'2"/286/5.36

OFD Average: 91


Sheldon Day HIghlights (via 247SportsStudio)


More after the jump.

Brian Kelly's thoughts from the signing day press conference:

Sheldon Day out of Indianapolis, Warren Central. The thing we love about him is not only his personality and who he is, but incredible motor, a great work ethic, he is already here and we have gotten comments back from our strength and conditioning staff and Coach Longo about his work volume and his work ethic and enthusiasm for what he is doing. He's a dynamic player, one of the best defensive linemen in the country, and he will immediately, like all of our freshmen, be expected to come in and compete right away.

Whiskey: 88

Day is a tad compact and that is really the only reason he wasn't considered a truly elite prospect. As an EE he could potentially get into the mix sooner than expected. Great pickup.

Eric: 93

Solid base to play the 0, 1, 2, or 3 technique as the heir apparent to Nix. Great center of gravity with good speed, first step, and tenacity on the line. Needs a little more weight and will benefit from EE status. Likely to see decent minutes as a freshman.

Burger: 94

Day might be my favorite recruit in this class. He looks almost like Aaron Lynch playing defensive tackle - fast and powerful. With Nix and Springman in the two-deep at the nose, and Tuitt and maybe Schwenke able to play few snaps a game inside, Kelly might be able to redshirt Day, a luxury ND hasn't had in quite some time.

Jim: 90

Day has a very compact frame that reminds me of Trevor Laws. With the departure of Sean Cwynar, he could see some action as a freshman as the third man in the DT/NG rotation. He has a great motor and doesn't quit on the play. As an early entry, it will help him bulk up a bit (probably needs to get to 315-320) and learn the two-gap technique required of him in the 3-4.


DE Jarron Jones

Rochester, NY - Aquinas Institute - 6'6"/300/5.20

OFD Average: 92

Jarron Jones 6-foot-7 Defensive Tackle (via raji85)


Brian Kelly's thoughts from the signing day press conference:

Out of Aquinas Institute in Rochester, New York, Jarron Jones. Jarron is one of those young men when you talk about defensive linemen, you want to look toward their athletic ability. I think the other night he had incredible numbers on the floor, I got a chance to see him play basketball, an incredible athlete at 6'6", 290 pounds, and he still hasn't developed yet. His ceiling is so high relative to strength and work volume. He's a young man that plays the defensive side of the ball.

Again, I think when you look at Jarron Jones, you see a young man that is going to impact our football program just because of his work ethic. We love the way he handled himself when he came on campus, he's got a great family, and he's already done this before. He's at Aquinas Institute, and their curriculum and what they do in the high school prepares him to come to Notre Dame.

Whiskey: 87

Jones has a big long frame and is extremely versatile. He could end up at DE or OT. Either way he will be a factor in the 2 deep no later than ‘13.

Eric: 94

Outstanding size with room to grow into a jumbo-sized, run-stuffing defensive end. Combination of size and footwork is very rare. Tuitt-like in measurables and ability with less strength but possibly better athleticism. Ability to grow into offensive tackle is a bonus. Will play significant minutes no later than his sophomore season.

Burger: 94

Jones is a physical freak of nature who can play defensive end or offensive tackle and be great at either. I'm not sure why there isn't that much buzz about signing Day and Jones. Maybe with Messrs. Lynch and Tuitt on the team, fans have kind of forgotten about the defensive line, but pulling in recruits like Day and Jones every year is what Notre Dame needs to do to consistently field a defensive line like we saw last year.

Jim: 91

His film reminds me a lot of Stephon Tuitt in both physical presence and technique. He is already built like a 3-4 strong-side DE and will probably break the rotation as a freshman. I expect the staff to run three deep up front to keep everyone fresh, and players like Jones are too athletic and too talented to keep on the sidelines.



OLB Romeo Okwara

Charlotte, NC - Ardrey Kell - 6'4"/230/4.70

OFD Average:86

Romeo Okwara (Football Recruiting Video) (via NCSAfootball)


Brian Kelly's thoughts from the signing day press conference:

Romeo Okwara is out of Ardrey Kell, Charlotte, we have had great success at that high school, Prince Shembo, current starter for us was also at the same high school, so we have a young man who already done well here at Notre Dame, Romeo follows that line. Again, when you look at players that have not reached their potential yet, here is a young man just started playing the game just a few years ago, extremely athletic, love his size, almost 6'4", 240 pounds, and he's going to continue to get bigger. He's our one, big skill player in this group. As you know it's about our skill, our power, our specialist, and he's our one big skill player that really will impact our football team, and we will expect him to compete right away. We are excited about Romeo, his family and, again, you know, when you're looking for the kids out there, you want guys that love Notre Dame, and he was somebody that showed that right out of the gates.

Whiskey: 87

A very athletic prospect that has the skillset to play Cat. With a young group of players in front of him he could compete for time quickly.

Eric: 85

Incredibly young prospect with immense upside. Rangy athlete with good burst off the line and solid closing speed for an end. Might be a bit of a project for a year or two due to youth, but has the skills to redshirt and immediately fight for playing time. Outstanding potential for the future.

Burger: 85

The name of the game with Okwara is "potential." He's not big enough to contribute right away, but he's only 16 years old and already 6'4 and almost 240lbs. He may not see the field much until his junior year as he's going to have to grow into his body. But this isn't a stretch by the coaching staff by any means. Okwara can play and could end up being a steal a few years down the road.

Jim: 85

The reviews from the scouts coming out of the NC-SC Shrine Bowl described Okwara in two words: fast and raw. He is very young and will likely benefit from a year of strength and conditioning. Could probably play either OLB position, but seems more natural as a pass rusher. The future is bright here and I think he will be another pleasant surprise out of this class.

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