InsideNDSports - Four-star DT Devan Houstan commits to Notre Dame
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Four-star DT Devan Houstan commits to Notre Dame

Four-star defensive tackle Devan Houstan, a 2023 recruit, announced his commitment to Notre Dame on Saturday.
Four-star defensive tackle Devan Houstan, a 2023 recruit, announced his commitment to Notre Dame on Saturday. (Graphic by Nick Lucero/Rivals)

Devan Houstan didn't exactly hide his feelings about Notre Dame.

When Rivals national recruiting analyst Adam Friedman interviewed Houstan on Monday, the four-star defensive tackle was asked to name the coaches across the country with whom he had the best relationships. The the first two he chose: Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman and defensive line coach Al Washington.

By Saturday afternoon, Houstan announced his commitment to play for the Irish.

"Coach Freeman's just such a personable guy," Houstan said Monday. "We hit it off immediately as we started talking and everything. We were talking back when he was the (defensive coordinator), and then when he got the promotion he still kept the love the same. That was really special in my opinion.

"Also, coach Washington. He's a really big guy in my recruiting. Me and him talk all the time."

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Houstan, a junior at Hagerstown (Md.) Saint James School, will have plenty more conversations with Freeman and Washington in his future. Houstan gave Notre Dame its 12th commitment and fourth on the defensive line for the second-ranked 2023 class in the country.

Texas Tech sits atop the Rivals team rankings for the 2023 class with 20 commitments from six four-star recruits and 14 three-star recruits. The Irish just don't have enough pledges to jump back ahead of the Red Raiders yet, but Notre Dame's class composition is more impressive. The 12 commitments belong to 11 four-star recruits and one five-star recruit.

Houstan is Notre Dame's only commitment who isn't ranked in the current Rivals250. Rivals ranks him as the No. 14 defensive tackle in the 2023 class.

MORE: HOUSTAN BREAKS DOWN HIS NOTRE DAME DECISION WITH RIVALS

Washington started to put his stamp on Notre Dame's 2023 class with commitments from Houstan and four-star defensive end Boubacar Traore in the past two weeks. They joined five-star defensive end Keon Keeley and four-star defensive end Brenan Vernon, who both committed to the Irish in June as priority targets of then-defensive line coach Mike Elston and Freeman.

Washington also gained Notre Dame's first commitment in the 2024 class when four-star defensive end Brandon Davis-Swain pledged to the Irish following the Blue-Gold Game on April 23.

Houstan made his only visit to Notre Dame on Jan. 29, but his affinity for the Irish didn't fade as time passed. He later made trips to Michigan, Northwestern, Wake Forest, South Carolina and Rutgers. Notre Dame resonated with Houstan the most.

"It was mainly about how the school can benefit me on and off the field," Houstan told Friedman of his decision. "They always talk about '4 for 40' and that was big for me. Everyone knows football players in the NFL, their typical time in the NFL is pretty short and you have to have backup plan. I think that Notre Dame will put me in the best position possible to play at the highest level but also get the best academic education in the world.

The 6-foot-3, 270-pound Houstan is originally from Mississauga, Ontario in Canada. He left his hometown before his junior year of high school to put himself on the college football recruiting radar.

The same blueprint worked for his older brother, Caleb Houstan, who became a five-star basketball recruit in the 2021 class at Montverde (Fla.) Academy. Caleb Houstan played at Michigan last season and recently declared for this year's NBA Draft.

Devan Houstan's recruiting stock hasn't risen as high as his older brother's, but he did enough to create a path to Notre Dame. The Irish offered the younger Houstan in October.

"Notre Dame landing four-star defensive tackle Devan Houstan is a big get," Friedman told Inside ND Sports. "I love his game as an athletic, big interior defensive lineman. He should have a little bit of versatility from the three-technique to the five-technique, but it's going to be all about how he develops his playing strength.

"Right now he gets by on a lot of athleticism, and he's not playing great competition at the high school level. So when we see what he's able to do in the weight room and really develop physically once he gets to Notre Dame, that's going to determine how great a prospect could be for Notre Dame and how a great a draft prospect he eventually could be.

"There are definitely some athletic traits that we love. I'm a big fan of the way he can move laterally. He has a good sense of not over-pursuing. He does a good job flowing to the ball even if they're running the other direction."

Prep Football Report recruiting analyst Tom Lemming shared similar sentiments.

"Good use of hands," Lemming said of Houstan. "He’s a good run-stuffer. He moves well. So, to make him an impact player, it’ll be up to Al Washington and (director of football performance) Matt Balis.

"He does have the ability. He’s not there yet. His competition level is good, not great. I think this kid could be very good. So, he’s a good catch, particularly if he has the work ethic that they think he has."

Notre Dame won't shut down its defensive line recruiting efforts in the 2023 class just yet. The Irish are still pursuing Jason Moore, the No. 1 defensive tackle in the class from Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha Catholic. Houstan wants to help Notre Dame add Moore to the class.

"Keep an eye out for Moore and Notre Dame's push for him," Friedman said.

The Irish are also a top contender for Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy's Samuel M'Pemba, a five-star athlete who could be a rover linebacker or vyper defensive end in Notre Dame's defense.

Notre Dame is in position to sign its best defensive line class since a 2011 group that included five-star defensive ends Stephon Tuitt and Ishaq Williams and four-star defensive end Aaron Lynch, all of whom were ranked among the top 28 overall.

Maybe this class will be even better.

"You can never," Lemming said, "have enough great ones."

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