Bishop Hendricken defensive end Jason Onye made his college decision official last week, verbally committing to play for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in 2021.
The 6-foot-5, 245-pound junior emerged as arguably the top player in the state last season and became one of the most highly recruited athletes to ever come out of Rhode Island. Onye received 11 other Division I offers, from schools including Boston College, Ole Miss, Michigan, Penn State, Rutgers, Virginia Tech and Arizona.
Ultimately, Onye chose Notre Dame, due in large part to the similar traditions that the school shares with Hendricken.
“It feels great, it’s a big relief. I’m thankful for the process and everything but I am happy to now be able to just focus on the upcoming football season. I never expected to play big-time FBS football, so I feel blessed to be in this position,” Onye said. “It was the tradition and the fit. When I transferred from Providence to Hendricken, I quickly fell in love with Hendricken. I see a lot of those characteristics and values at Notre Dame – education before football, Catholic, a great tradition, family, all of those characteristics.”
Onye joins Will Blackmon, Kwity Paye and Xavier Truss as Hawks who have gone on to play for major FBS programs. Blackmon went on to have a lengthy NFL career, while Paye is slated as a potential first round pick in next year’s draft as a defensive end at Michigan. Truss is set to begin his second season at Georgia. Another Hawk to have big-time success was Lee Moses, who played for UMass and got invited to the Arizona Cardinals’ training camp last summer.
Onye is excited to add his name to that list and to help Rhode Island get more looks from college recruiters.
“It feels great because all of those guys are my role models and my friends. I’ve talked to them a lot, they’ve been mentors. Lee, Xavier, Kwity, Will, it feels great to be a part of this,” Onye said. “It’s great knowing that colleges are now looking at Rhode Island more and we’re getting more looks. In the smaller picture, it’s a testament to the program at Hendricken and the coaches at Hendricken. When you look at it more in depth and you look at those kids from Rhode Island going to the FBS level, they are usually Hendricken kids. So this program and the way that [Hendricken] Coach [Keith] Croft prepares kids for the next level, not only on the field, but also academically, it’s great.”
The staff at Notre Dame will be starting Onye at defensive end, and he is up to the challenge of playing against the nation’s best on a weekly basis.
“The biggest difference is going to be the size and speed. The players there, at the FBS level, they’re all bigger, stronger, faster. But I’ll make the [necessary] changes, I’ll be fine,” Onye said.
As Onye prepares to play his final season with the Hawks, he plans on taking the discipline that he has been taught into his senior year and to the collegiate ranks.
“Accountability, for sure. That’s one thing that I didn’t always have, but Hendricken taught me that. Both on the field and in the classroom, make sure you’re accountable, make sure you’re prepared, those are the things I learned. For football, it’s the little things. Like watching film for example which is big in college, those little things play a big part at the next level,” said Onye, who will also miss the bonds that he has made at the school. “I’ll miss the brotherhood. I think about all the memories that I have had with this team, playing with Xavier two years ago, Angel [Sanchez] last year, all the brothers that I made during my short three years there. I’m going to miss all of them.”