Bo Bauer

Cathedral Prep's Matthew Bauer (27) attempts to tackle Imhotep Charter's Tykee Smith (2) during the first quarter of the PIAA Class 4A football championship at Hersheypark Stadium in Hershey on Dec. 7, 2017. (Photo courtesy of the Erie Times-News/MATTHEW O'HAREN)

LB Bo Bauer, 6-2, 212; Erie (Pa.) Cathedral Prep.

The numbers: In his senior season at Cathedral Prep, Bauer made 96 tackles, 18.5 tackles for a loss and nine sacks, blocked two punts and forced one fumble. The Ramblers (14-0) won the PIAA Class 4A state championship. Bauer finished his career with 28 consecutive wins.

The rankings: Rivals – Four stars, No. 5 ILB. 247Sports – Three stars, No. 24 ILB.

FILM BREAKDOWN

First impression: Bauer plays linebacker like a sledgehammer. He bludgeons opponents in the backfield whenever he can find a crease. Bauer plays downhill and should find himself in the middle of future Irish defenses if he can cover enough ground.

Strengths: A blitzing Bauer must be a terrifying sight for opposing quarterbacks. He’s an excellent pass rusher for a linebacker. He anticipates openings along the offensive line and exploits them in a hurry. Bauer has good quickness in small spaces. In a few cases, he avoids a blocker while not having to slow down significantly. When Bauer arrives at the ball, he brings the wood. He’s a hard hitter that wants his opponents to remember he’s roaming all over the field.

Proof of prowess: (:01) Bauer initially falls for the playaction fake, but he quickly fixes his mistake and focuses on the quarterback. Seeing an opportunity to make a play, Bauer pursues the ball and tracks down a sack … (1:09) A running back seems ready to impede Bauer’s path to quarterback, but he quickly side steps the attempted block before making a hit on the quarterback. That’s the kind of juke a running back is supposed to make on a linebacker, not the other way around … (1:49) After faking a blitz before the snap, Bauer works through traffic to his left to find the running back. He explodes for a big hit at the line of scrimmage.

Competition level: Playing in a lower classification (4A) prevented a playoff matchup between Bauer and Notre Dame quarterback signee Phil Jurkovec’s undefeated Pine-Richland team (6A). But Cathedral Prep saw plenty of powerful teams in its perfect season. The Ramblers played against four of the top 21 teams in the state, according to MaxPreps. They even took on the No. 2 team in Michigan (Warren De La Salle) and No. 22 team in New York (Buffalo Canisius).

Arguably no opponent had more talent than Imhotep Charter. The state runners-up featured Isheem Young, a four-star safety in the 2018 class, and Tykee Smith, a four-star safety in the 2019 class. Both played offense as well. Imhotep needed 14 points in the game’s final five minutes to reach 28 points, a total matched only once all season long, against Bauer and the Cathedral Prep defense.

Left to prove: The biggest question on Bauer has been his ability to cover and play laterally, and these highlights do little to provide an answer. There’s just not much footage of him playing in coverage or sticking with tight ends or running backs. His straight-line quickness is clear, and he’s shown some nifty moves going forward. But is he fluid enough in his movements to adapt in coverage? That remains to be seen. It’s hard to tell if Bauer plays as stiff as the collar on his shoulder pads makes him look at times. Bauer also has a tendency to throw his shoulders without wrapping up on some big hits. He’ll be asked to clean that up to prevent missed tackles.

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