Notre Dame’s young defensive linemen impress


Notre Dame defensive linemen Aiden Gobaira and Tyson Ford arrived in January and it didn’t take them long to impress their peers.

Senior Howard Cross III, who knows a few things about a fast first stage, was quick to point out Gobaira and Ford’s speed after Tuesday’s practice.

“Freshmen coming in, obviously they have a lot to learn, but there’s a lot of potential, especially Tyson Ford,” Cross said. “Tyson gets off the ball extremely fast. He works hard. Same with Aiden Gobaira. Aiden has a speed that I don’t think I’ve seen in a freshman in a while.”

Cross, who has bounced between one and three technicians over the course of his career, also highlighted another young interior player, Gabe Rubio, who has been thrust into a bigger role with Aidan Keanaaina with an ACL injury.

“He’s grown exponentially since last year,” Cross said. “I’m really excited to see what happens this year for him.”

Isaiah Foskey returned to school to work on his own game, but he was more than willing to help the young players and they left a positive impression.

“They can definitely handle it,” Foskey said. “That’s what I see. I see Aiden Gobaira holding it together, Tyson Ford as well. They’re great guys. They learn from coach (Al) Washington and then are very easy to coach.”

For Washington, every player is new, but it’s clear he’s noticed positive growth from Ford and Gobaira.

“Man, Tyson Ford, he’s gonna be special,” Washington said. “He’s done a really good job. He’s played a lot of snaps this spring and is really becoming a really good football player. I’m very excited for Tyson.”

Ford is training on the edge and inside, which could see him earn a role in the fall, as flexibility is something Al Golden’s defense will highlight.

As far as long-term projections go, Washington thinks it will come down to Ford’s physical growth.

“Tyson works inside and out,” Washington explained. “To be honest, it depends on how he grows. As an inside guy, he’s a mismatch because he’s so athletic.

“If he can get big enough to anchor himself inside then you’ve got something. What I think he can, he’s probably around 40, 50 now. So most kids of that age, if they’re that big, they’ll probably put on another 25 pounds, 30. But that’s a difference, he’s definitely shifting gears inside.”

Gobaira is living on the edge this spring, which is no surprise as the 6-foot-5, 230-pound was a dynamic high school pass thrower.

“Aidan, we’ll see how he continues to grow,” Washington said. “At the moment we have him on the edge. He has done a good job. He is also doing extra work after training.

“He’s a very driven kid. He wants to do it the right way, which I appreciate. I’m very excited for him.”

Another player getting a lot of reps this spring is sophomore Jason Onye. Onye spends time inside a tech as Washington seeks to fill Keanaaina’s void.

“Jason Onye is another one who is completely healthy now and enjoying these reps and the opportunities he gets on the inside,” Washington said. I think the future is bright.”

Washington also hugged Onye, who only played one year of high school football. The fact that Onye is learning on the fly, Washington thinks is positive.

“I think as a coach you appreciate that,” Washington said. “He might be raw in some areas, but he’s very coachable. I feel like when there’s not a lot to unlearn it’s a lot easier. He’s a young player because of his inability to play due to injury and he played a year in high school, there’s a lot of potential there.

“The biggest thing about Jason is that he is eager to learn and very coachable. We work every day after practice. He wants to be a really good player. The future is really promising for Jason.”

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