It appears Notre Dame is in the running for a big-time defensive tackle graduate transfer.
Clemson’s Scott Pagano has Notre Dame in his top group of schools, according to Sooner Scoop. Along with Notre Dame and Oklahoma, Pagano is also looking at visits to Arkansas, Cal, Nebraska, Oregon and Texas, the site reports.
Pagano is reportedly set to visit Notre Dame on March 24, which falls in the middle of the team's spring workouts. He’s scheduled to visit Oklahoma the following weekend, according to Sooner Scoop.
According to Clemson sports information, Pagano will be a graduate transfer with one season of eligibility remaining. The sociology major is able to play immediately at the school of his choosing — Clemson put no restrictions on where he can transfer.
The 6-foot-4, 280-pound Pagano started four games for the Tigers in 2016. He played 299 snaps and finished with 31 tackles, 4.5 TFLs and two sacks. Pagano also started nine games as a junior in 2015, tallying 51 tackles.
The Honolulu, H.I., native, was a four-star recruit by Rivals in the class of 2013. He was offered a scholarship by the Irish out of Moanalua High School before choosing the Tigers.
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney tried to talk Pagano out of transferring last week, but the defensive tackle ultimately had his reasons.
“We all wanted him to stay, but he said he had accomplished everything he wanted to do at Clemson,” Swinney said in a statement. “He came here to graduate and win a national championship and he achieved both within the last two months.
“He indicated to me that he wants to start his graduate degree and play his final year of college football, probably on the West Coast.”
If Notre Dame lands Pagano, he would be the second graduate transfer this offseason for the Irish. Wide receiver Freddy Canteen, formerly of Michigan, announced his intention this month to transfer to Notre Dame.
With the addition of new special teams coordinator Brian Polian — who led the recruitment of Manti Te'o to Notre Dame — the Irish now have a Hawaii connection on staff. Polian was critical in the Irish landing three-star defensive tackle recruit Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa out of Hawaii in the class of 2017.
It would not be difficult to envision Pagano claiming a starting spot on the Irish defense in 2017. Following the departure of defensive tackle Jarron Jones to graduation, the Irish are left with junior Jerry Tillery and senior Daniel Cage as the most experienced at the position.
Tillery battled consistency issues over his 627 defensive snaps, and Cage missed multiple games with a concussion, sitting out the final four and playing just 246 snaps. Seniors Jonathan Bonner and Peter Mokwuah and junior Elijah Taylor are largely untested.