Notre Dame a 'dream offer' for in-state DE recruit George Karlaftis

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

Kick returners rarely have to worry about the kicker inflicting damage on them.

But when the kicker is a future four-star defensive end recruit, the story’s a little different.

As a freshman at West Lafayette (Ind.) High, George Karlaftis played sparingly on defense. Serving as the team’s kickoff specialist became his greatest responsibility. He knocked the ball down the field and then tried to knock down the ball carrier.

Unfortunately for kick returners around the state, the 6-foot-4, 243-pound Karlaftis still lines up on the kickoff coverage team. He just doesn’t have to kick the ball before tracking it down.

However, chasing quarterbacks has become the top priority for Karlaftis. As a sophomore, he recorded 113 tackles and 13 sacks. Now colleges are paying attention.

Notre Dame became the fourth school to extend a scholarship offer to Karlaftis when he visited campus last weekend. Only Indiana, Purdue and SMU beat the Irish to the punch. The Notre Dame offer could signal the start of a recruiting avalanche for Karlaftis.

“It just changes my recruiting a lot, because that’s my biggest school yet,” Karlaftis said. “That’s just going to take off more and more.”

The spotlight found Karlaftis early. Both Rivals and 247Sports have touted him as a four-star recruit. In its first Top 247 ranking of the 2019 class, 247Sports slated Karlaftis as the No. 22 strongside defensive end and No. 245 overall regardless of position.

It seems only natural that Notre Dame would come calling for a talented defensive end developing inside the state’s border. That didn’t make it any less meaningful for Karlaftis. He plans to return to South Bend for the Blue-Gold Game later this month.

“It’s huge,” he said. “Getting one of my dream offers was just amazing.”

Karlaftis described only two other schools as dream offers: Ohio State and Miami. He’s heard from both football programs, but neither have joined his offer list.

Karlaftis holds the Irish in high regard in part because of the proximity to West Lafayette. His great uncle also attended Notre Dame. While on campus last weekend, Karlaftis bought a Notre Dame hat. He made sure to wear it to The Opening Regional camp in Lake Forest, Ill., the next day.

In one-on-one pass rush drills, Karlaftis was a frequent victor. He overpowered some offensive linemen and beat another with a shifty move. At least this time there was no quarterback — or kick returner — waiting to be bruised.

tjames@ndinsider.com

574-235-6214

Twitter: @TJamesNDI

A day after receiving an offer from Notre Dame, 2019 defensive end recruit George Karlaftis attended The Opening Regional in the Chicago area. (Tribune Photo/TYLER JAMES)