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.
#34 Osita Ekwonu, Linebacker
Ekwonu is a consensus 4 star recruit. Both Rivals and ESPN ranked him as the 15th best linebacker in the country. He stands 6’1’’ and weighs 220 pounds. He attended Providence Day High School, and his hometown is Charlotte, North Carolina. In 2018, he won the Greater Charlotte Football Association’s Linebacker of the Year award.
During his senior season Ekwonu played both running back and linebacker. He recorded 90 tackles, two forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries on defense. As a running back, he rushed for 765 yards and scored 12 touchdowns.
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“Shake it Off”-Taylor Swift
Osita Ekwonu possesses outstanding athletic traits that should give him a chance to be a force at linebacker in the coming years. However, Jack Lamb and Jordan Genmark-Heath return at the Buck linebacker position in 2019. Ekwonu needs to shake it off and not get down on himself. He should plan on using his freshman season to learn Clark Lea’s defensive scheme and continue to develop in the weight room. This should position him nicely to come into next season ready to vie for a starting role in the middle of the defense.
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The Rhodesian Ridgeback breed dates back to the 16th century in South Africa. They acted as guard dogs in villages and aided farmers in hunting big game in the African brush. These dogs have a distinctive stripe of hair down the middle of its back which grows in the opposite direction from the rest of its coat. They also possess a large, muscular frame. Ekwonu’s frame reminds me of this breed. Additionally, Ekwonu needs to be able to take on large bodies in the trenches, while remaining agile enough to cover routes, similar to the demands of this breed while hunting.
Osita Ekwonu is most likely a year away from contributing on defense. Ekwonu possesses elite speed and great length for a linebacker of his size. He will most likely end up playing the Buck linebacker position during his career at Notre Dame thanks to his outstanding coverage skills and ability to shed blocks in the run game. Jack Lamb and Jordan Genmark-Heath seem to be entrenched as the two primary options at the position coming into the 2019 season. An athlete of his caliber is too valuable to gather dust on the sidelines for an entire year. Brian Polian may grab Ekwonu and employ him on the coverage units for special teams as Notre Dame continues to upgrade this unit by involving as many of its best athletes as possible.
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Notre Dame’s linebacker position is in a state of flux heading into the 2019 season. It is difficult to predict what position the coaching staff will ultimately settle on for Osita Ekwonu. However, he should force his way onto the field in the coming years. Fans should be excited for the future as Notre Dame continues to stack their defensive depth chart with high caliber athletes.