DE Jordan Botelho gives Notre Dame another four-star commitment in 2020 class

Carter Karels
South Bend Tribune

Mike Elko’s departure as Notre Dame’s defensive coordinator following 2017 became less conspicuous as last season progressed.

Clark Lea, Elko's replacement, not only helped coach the Irish defense to elite status in 2018. He also played a role in ND’s exemplary recruiting since taking over the defense.

His latest addition, 2020 defensive end Jordan Botelho out of St. Louis High in Honolulu, verbally committed to the Irish via Twitter on Thursday. Botelho’s verbal pledge comes after his official visit for ND’s 90th Blue-Gold Game.

Though recruiting sites designate Botelho as a linebacker, the Irish recruited the 6-foot-3, 230-pounder as a drop defensive end. None of ND’s defensive line enrollees since its 2012 class ranked higher overall than Botelho via 247Sports. He’s the site’s No. 2 inside linebacker and No. 34 overall player. Rivals slates Botelho as its No. 24 outside linebacker and outside the Rivals 250.

The Irish added at least three four-star recruits at every defensive position in the 2019 class, per 247Sports. Earlier this month, St. Louis DeSmet Jesuit receiver Jordan Johnson committed to the Irish. He could become ND's first receiver signee ranked as a consensus top 60 overall player.

“I’ve seen a significant rise in Notre Dame recruiting the last two years,” said Tom Lemming, a recruiting analyst for CBS Sports Network. “Significant where they could win a national title now. Each coach is taking a lot of pride in their signees.

“And believe me, that was never the case in the last 25 years at Notre Dame.”

Work remains to be done, particularly at the skill positions. However, ND’s recent hires may speed the process. Offensive line coach Jeff Quinn and safeties coach Terry Joseph hauled in impressive 2019 classes. New running backs coach Lance Taylor looks the part so far.

The addition of Botelho reflects on the recruiting prowess of defensive line coach Mike Elston. The Irish now have more defensive line commits than any other position for 2020, with Botelho joining Colorado’s Aidan Keanaaina and Germany’s Alexander Ehrensberger.

Defensive linemen Braiden McGregor and Rylie Mills remain as Irish targets. ND’s 2020 class of seven commits now ranks No. 7 and No. 12 nationally on Rivals and 247Sports, respectively.

Botelho recorded 50 tackles, 15 sacks, 13 tackles for a loss, four forced fumbles and four defensive touchdowns as a junior. He garnered the Cover2 Manti Te’o Award as the Defensive Player of the Year in Hawaii.

“He’s Manti Te’o almost. He’s that talented of an athlete,” Lemming said. “… To me, he’s a five-star talent. And he’s a top 25 player in the country. They haven’t gotten many of those lately.”

Special teams coordinator Brian Polian rejoined the Irish staff in 2017 and revamped their recruiting presence in Hawaii. He played a major role in landing Botelho, along with defensive tackle Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa (2017) and rover signee Marist Liufau (2019). The latter two also committed within a week after their official visits.

"It's not anything I did in particular," Polian said in a Dec. 15 media session. "With any good recruiter, it's about relationships. I was the guy that was lucky enough to draw the straw and have maintained those relationships. It has been good for us."

Notre Dame extended an offer to Botelho on Jan. 29. Polian then helped set Botelho up for his first visit to campus. Defensive line coach Mike Elston ventured to Honolulu on Thursday to cement the commitment. Botelho’s only other visit since ND offered came via a Feb. 25 unofficial to UCLA. USC, Washington, Oregon and California were other contenders for Botelho.

Lemming recently met with Botelho to better evaluate his growth potential and where he projects in college.

“He’s a high school linebacker, but he’s big enough to play defensive end, drop end,” Lemming said. “He’s very athletic, runs a 4.7 … He benches 335 pounds now and looks thin at 230.”

ND’s top two drop ends, Julian Okwara and Daelin Hayes, will expire their eligibility following the 2019 season. 247Sports analyst Blair Angulo compares Botelho to Kyler Fackrell, an outside linebacker for the Green Bay Packers, and projects him as a second-day NFL Draft pick.

Botelho does not put his hand on the ground for the Crusaders, but he comes off the edge as an outside linebacker often.

“He could do both,” said Lemming on which position suits Botelho better. “He’s got the growth potential to do both. He’s got that great first step and is excellent in pursuit. He could be a big-time pass rusher. But also, he could play outside linebacker if they wanted. This is a versatile athlete.”

I remember dreaming of this moment all my life...


— Dis 12 (@Jordanbotelho_) April 18, 2019

— Brian Kelly (@CoachBrianKelly) April 18, 2019

— Brian Polian (@BrianPolian) April 18, 2019

Honolulu St. Louis' Jordan Botelho, a 2020 defensive end, took an official visit at Notre Dame between April 12-14, 2019.