And so begins another round of “This Guy Plays Notre Dame Football” here on OFD. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish have a roster full of players, and we want to talk about them all. One Foot Down’s player profile series will take a look at every single one of them, and hopefully we all learn a little bit more about these guys, and Notre Dame’s chances for the upcoming 2019 season.
#47 Kofi Wardlow, DE
Kofi Wardlow arrived at Notre Dame in the summer of 2017 after having been one of the last additions to his class. The 3-star defensive end from Washington, D.C. had committed to the Maryland Terrapins just a couple months prior in December 2016, but after receiving late interest from the likes of Notre Dame and the Virginia Tech Hokies, Wardlow decommitted on National Signing Day in February, committing to and signing with the Irish.
The 6’3”, 230-pound weakside defensive end was considered a project for sure, and besides kicker Jonathan Doerer, he was the lowest-rated player in ND’s 2017 class, according to 247sports.com.
His freshman year he joined 9 of his classmates in redshirting and solely participating on the scout team in practice. During his sophomore season last year, Wardlow still did not see the field, logging no stats as he sat buried on the depth chart behind the likes of defensive ends Khalid Kareem, Adetokunbo Ogundeji, and Jamir Jones.
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2019 will likely be similar to 2017 and 2018 in that it won’t yet be time for Kofi Wardlow to see a lot of PT. However, the kid still has some promise and occasionally these kinds of guys have everything click into place late in their careers — let’s see if we’ll love Wardlow tomorrow — i.e. in 2020 or 2021 — once the depth chart clears a bit and he potentially gets a chance to show what he’s got.
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Wardlow’s issue this year is the same as in 2018 — there are simply too many more talented guys in front of him for anyone to expect him to get substantial playing time. Kareem is a borderline All-American, Ogundeji proved himself to be a very good backup last year, and Jamir Jones is likely above him as well, providing 3rd-string depth.
Additionally, true freshman NaNa Osafo-Mensah plays the same position as Wardlow, and although Wardlow will probably start ahead of him just due to experience in the program and having been in the Irish strength and conditioning program for 2 years, Osafo-Mensah was one of the biggest gets in the 2019 class — a 6’4”, 224-pound All-American in high school who will likely come in and earn some playing time right away just due to his raw athleticism and pass rushing ability, and so Wardlow will likely still be relegated to the bottom of the depth chart for his junior season.
I expect we may see Wardlow on some special teams in 2019, and potentially he will get some time as a nice, experienced depth piece in 2020 once Kareem and Jones — and potentially Ogundeji, depending on a possible 5th-year for him — all graduate and move on from the program.
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There’s clearly some impressive, raw athleticism here that could be useful later in his career, if even just in special defensive situations or on special teams.