Despite all the drama surrounding Jay Hayes’ decision to transfer from Notre Dame, the Fighting Irish still feel strong about their rotation along the defensive line thanks in large part to junior defensive end Khalid Kareem.
The former Michigan prep star played sparingly as a freshman before earning his way onto the two-deep last season. While backing up Hayes, Kareem was productive with 5.5 tackles for loss and 3 sacks and was already on his way to unseating Hayes as the starter on the strong side.
Now, the foregone conclusion that he would start in the fall has become a reality a little sooner. The next step is simply to get him up to game conditioning.
“He’s got real good length. He has a knack for pass-rushing, just has a knack [for] being there and getting to the quarterback,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said according to Stephen Brooks of The Goshen News. “I think for him, the next step becomes how do we get him up to 60 plays?
“He was a 20-play guy for us; how do we get him up to 60? So [conditioning], strength, all those things coming together. But he’s got some really innate ability to find the quarterback.”
Adetokunbo Ogundeji has also had a solid spring at defensive end and he’ll now likely slide into Kareem’s former role as the backup at strong-side defensive end. However, it’ll be Kareem, the former 4-star prospect, who gets the majority of the reps at the position and honestly Notre Dame may be better off for it in the long haul.