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Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Mike Elston fired up to bring in four along the defensive line

Notre Dame needed to bring in some of the nation’s top defensive line prospects within the class of 2019 and defensive line coach Mike Elston did exactly that.

The Fighting Irish have already secured signatures from Nana Osafo-Mensah, Jacob Lacey, Howard Cross and Hunter Spears, all of which are four-star recruits with outstanding offer lists.

On Wednesday, they all put pen to paper and WatchND’s Ally Sturm caught up with Elston to get his take on the four players headed to South Bend.

“I’m the most excited guy in the building today because we signed four defensive linemen, several state champions out of the group and it’s just an exciting time to add to our culture at the defensive line with great talent and skill players, but also guys that will represent Notre Dame in the way off the field and in the classroom,” said Elston, who was clearly excited about the new members of Notre Dame’s football program.

“From the east coast we have Howard Cross, who comes from a great football family,” continued Elston. “He goes to St. Joseph Regional high school out in New Jersey, that just won’t the state championship there. Howard is a very versatile player with an elite skill-set for an interior player, but also a unique skill-set that he can move outside and play on the edge. Very similar to what we’ve done with Jerry Tillery this season. So, I’m excited for that with Howard because he gives us some great flexibility to move him around.

“Then you go to Kentucky and you have Jacob Lacey, who also just won the state championship, which is exciting,” said Elston. “He’s a two-sport athlete. I went and watched him play baseball in the spring and in his first at-bat he stroked a home run. Just a phenomenal athlete. A big guy. He led the team in stolen bases, even at 275 or 285 pounds. What he brings to the football field is an aggressive nature of play, a very intelligent young man, a great student, and obviously his experience of winning will be great to add to our defensive linemen.”

“Then you south to Texas and we have one guy from Fort Worth and one from Dallas,” said Elston. “Hunter Spears from Sachse high school, who had a really good season this year and then ended it unfortunately with an injury in the playoffs, but his team went far and he was a great reason for that. So, another great student, great ambassador for that school and he’s going to be great here. NaNa Osafo-Mensah, more of a defensive end, what we call our drop-position, great athlete, who adds a great skill-set of pass-rush that we so need every class. So, very excited for those four guys.”

Notre Dame may have landed four, but don’t look for Elston to be done quite yet. The Irish are also expected to land four-star defensive end Isaiah Foskey when he announces his decision in February on National Signing Day during a live, on-air commitment on ESPN.

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