Notre Dame continued its recent run of defensive line success when blue-chip prospect Rylie Mills committed to the Irish. The 6’5″, 275-pound Illinoisan conducted a round of official visits to his finalists in April and didn’t wait too long to make his decision. Mills is ranked as a strong-side defensive end, but in all likelihood he’ll be a 3-tech DT for the Irish. Mike Elston once again earned a triple venti cappuccino, as has been his wont lately, and Tom Rees gets substantial kudos for his role as the secondary recruiter here as well. Why did Notre Dame put their quarterback coach on a DL prospect, you ask? Because Mills goes to Lake Forest High School, which just happens to be Rees’s alma mater. Small world.
Back to Elston for a second… In the 2019 cycle he landed five four-star DL: Isaiah Foskey, NaNa Osafo-Mensah, Jacob Lacey, Hunter Spears, and Howard Cross. In this class he now has two top-150 DL in Jordan Botelho and Mills, and is in a dogfight with Michigan for another top 100 kid in DE Braiden McGregor. Credit where credit is due.
Recruiting Service Rankings
247 Composite — 4 star (0.9422 rating), #122 overall, #8 SDE, #2 in IL
247 Sports — 4 star (92 rating), #170 overall, #8 SDE, #2 in IL
Rivals — 4 star (5.8 rating), #155 overall, #10 SDE, #3 in IL
ESPN — 4 star (83 grade), #132 overall, #14 DE, #2 in IL
Irish Sports Daily — 4 star (92 rating)
In addition to Notre Dame, Rylie Mills holds offers from Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Penn State, and Wisconsin, among many others. Ohio State and Wisconsin were his other two finalists, and both really wanted him.
Behold a three-minute video of Rylie Mills eating people. Maybe literally, I’m not sure all of them survived or even reappeared. The first thing that stands out is that he’s absolutely massive. Anyone who follows recruiting knows that kids frequently have overstated heights and/or weights. I don’t think Rylie’s dimensions are overstated. The next thing that stands out is that he moves like kid whose height and weight are overstated. His get-off at that size is fantastic, and he often uses it to meet the ball carrier almost at the mesh point. Most of his moves here are pure power, as you might imagine from a guy who dwarfs his competition. He shows some promise as a technique rusher too though; for example, check the play at the 0:28 mark. He uses a swim move to leave the guard grasping at air as he engulfs the quarterback. It was his own sensitive re-enactment of Jerry Tillery vs. Nate Herbig, and it was beautiful.
A couple of other favorite plays: At the 1:13 mark, he fights through a double team on a stretch run to make a tackle for loss; at the 2:18 mark, he chases a play 45 yards downfield and eventually makes the tackle. I think Tillery was more athletic, but Mills has that same package of power, quickness, hustle, and intensity that could turn him into a similar kind of weapon. About the only thing I can complain about is that he tends to stand up a bit too much, but I’m sure Elston can work that out of him fairly easily.
By the time Rylie Mills gets on campus Notre Dame will have a fully stocked depth chart at defensive tackle, with at least five and possibly seven guys who will have seen meaningful run by then. I expect him to compete for a spot in the two-deep in 2021 and for a starting spot in 2022, as a junior. Yes, a four-star, top 150 defensive tackle will have a couple of years to work on conditioning and technique before being needed in a meaningful game situation. At Notre Dame. Yes, you read all that right… He might not get on the field right away, but when he does I think Mills is going to make plenty of noise and eventually be a high-impact front-line player.
Welcome to the Irish family, Rylie!