Notre Dame North Carolina Football

Notre Dame defensive lineman Justin Ademilola (9) celebrates with teammates defensive lineman Jayson Ademilola (57) and cornerback TaRiq Bracy (28) after he recovered a fumble during the second half of an NCAA college football game against North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C., Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. 

Notre Dame football's roster underwent a pair of changes Friday, with one defensive player leaving and another arriving. Here is a look at the effect each will have on the 2023 Irish.

Justin Ademilola declares for the NFL

Ademilola played five seasons at defensive end for the Irish, but he only appeared in four games in 2018, making him eligible for a redshirt that year and a sixth season of college football in 2023. But with his brother, Jayson Ademilola, out of eligibility – the brothers are twins, but Jayson played 11 games for the Irish as a true freshman in 2018 – and on to the NFL, Justin decided to end his collegiate career and head to the professional ranks, as well. 

"To my coaches and teammates, what an honor it has been to play for Notre Dame and live my dream," Justin Ademilola wrote in a statement announcing his decision, which was posted on social media. "I want all my teammates to know just how much I love and appreciate each of them. The brotherhood we share at Notre Dame is truly a blessing, and I will never forget it.

"I look forward to representing my family and the Fighting Irish at the next level. Love you all!"

Had he returned and played every game next season plus a bowl game, Ademilola would have broken the Notre Dame games played record. Instead he settles for having appeared in 50 games with the Irish, totaling 108 tackles, 13 for loss, 9 1/2 sacks, three fumble recoveries, a forced fumble and a pass breakup. He had 39 tackles, including 3 1/2 for loss and three sacks, this season and he helped fill the void left by star edge rusher Isaiah Foskey in the Gator Bowl, which Foskey opted out of to prepare for the draft. Arguably the defensive end's best game came in the 2021 season finale against Stanford in which he had four tackles, a sack, two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble in a 45-14 Irish win.

With both Ademilolas (Jayson played defensive tackle) and Foskey departing, the Irish are losing significant talent and production along the defensive front. Among those who will have to step up in their places are edge rusher Jordan Botelho, a highly-touted recruit in the 2020 class who notched a pair of sacks against South Carolina in the Gator Bowl, and veteran Nana Osafo-Mensah, who has played in 25 games over the last two seasons, but has never been a frontline contributor, though the defensive coaching staff is very high on him.

Irish add transfer DB from Oklahoma State

Notre Dame dipped into the transfer portal for the second straight day Friday, bringing in veteran Oklahoma State cornerback/safety Thomas Harper one day after adding Wake Forest quarterback Sam Hartman. Harper has one year of eligibility remaining after playing in 42 games and starting eight (seven this year) over the last four years for the Cowboys.

Harper was a Week 1 starter at safety for coach Mike Gundy's team this season, but an injury limited him to seven games. In those seven contests, he notched 30 tackles, two pass breakups, 1 1/2 tackles for loss and an interception, the second pick of his career. The 5-foot-11, 180-pound Harper is Notre Dame's third Power Five transfer commitment this year, joining Hartman and Virginia Tech receiver Kaleb Smith. 

Harper has experience at corner and safety, but he played safety most recently for the Cowboys and that's where Notre Dame needs him most as it has lost former All-American Brandon Joseph and proven veteran Houston Griffith to the NFL from the position (Griffith was out of eligibility after playing an Irish record 62 games over the last five seasons). DJ Brown has one season of eligibility left, but has not yet announced whether he will use it, making Harper's commitment important. Xavier Watts and Ramon Henderson will also battle for snaps at safety.

College Sportswriter

Dylan Sinn is a College Sportswriter, covering mainly Indiana, Purdue and Notre Dame, as well local colleges in northeast Indiana and Fort Wayne TinCaps baseball. He is a graduate of Indiana University and an AP Top 25 football voter.