Transfer Portal: Duke graduate student DL R.J. Oben schedules Notre Dame visit

On3 imageby:Kyle Kelly12/06/23


A few days after Duke quarterback Riley Leonard completes his Notre Dame official visit, one of his former teammates will arrive in South Bend for his visit. Graduate student defensive lineman R.J. Oben will check out the Irish beginning Dec. 8, he told Blue & Gold‘s Mike Singer on Wednesday.

The 6-foot-4, 260-pound Oben entered the NCAA Transfer Portal on Dec. 1, following five seasons with the Blue Devils. He has one year of eligibility remaining.

Oben is currently the No. 30 overall player and No. 2 EDGE available, according to On3’s transfer portal player rankings. He is considered a four-star collegiate prospect with a 90 rating.

In his Duke career, Oben appeared in 50 games. He totaled 67 tackles (33 solo), 20 tackles for loss and 14.5 sacks. He also had an interception, pass breakup and 5 forced fumbles in those outings.

Oben will be one of six reported transfer portal targets that have visited Notre Dame this month. The Irish hosted former Florida International wide receiver Kris Mitchell and Arizona defensive back Jordan Clark last Saturday. Clark and Mitchell committed to Notre Dame on Monday and Tuesday, respectively.

In addition to Leonard, former Clemson wide receiver Beaux Collins was also in South Bend on Wednesday. Former Washington State wide receiver Josh Kelly began his Notre Dame visit Tuesday night.

Background on R.J. Oben’s college football career

According to Pro Football Focus, Oben registered his best season in 2022. He earned a 78.8 overall defensive grade during his senior campaign. He had 37 pressures (including 28 quarterback hurries) and 13 run stops. NCAA stats awarded him 20 tackles (11 solo), 6.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. He also forced a pair of fumbles.

This past season, Oben notched a 68.5 PFF defensive grade. He had 27 pressures (14 quarterback hurries) and 9 run stops. His official 2023 season stats were 17 tackles (7 solo), 6 tackles for loss, 5 sacks and a pass breakup.

The only official statistic he recorded against Notre Dame on Sept. 30 was a quarterback hurry. PFF also credited him with a quarterback hit. Oben played 19 snaps against the Irish. He lined up as a defensive end against right tackle Blake Fisher 12 times and left tackle Joe Alt on seven plays.

On the season, Oben played 404 defensive snaps, all on the defensive line. About 90% of those snaps came at either the right or left defensive end. PFF does not specify if he played more on the strong or weak side. However, a brief film analysis showed him primarily playing as a field/strongside defensive end.

Oben began his college career at Duke in 2019. That year, he suffered a season-ending left shoulder injury. He played sparingly as a freshman and sophomore before a breakout junior season in 2021. In his third year with the Blue Devils, Oben played in 12 games and made 10 starts. He had career highs in tackles (25) and tackles for loss (7).

After an outstanding senior season, PFF named Oben a preseason All-ACC third-team selection before his graduate year 2023 campaign.

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