Film Study: Notre Dame LB commit Josh Barajas

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

LB commit Josh Barajas, 6-3, 212, Merrillville (Ind.) Andrean.

The numbers: Barajas managed to total 103 tackles, 10 for a loss and seven sacks despite missing four games with a broken finger, infection and surgery. Andrean (14-1) lost its only game in the IHSAA Class 3-A state championship.

The rankings: Rivals — Four stars, No. 14 OLB, No. 228 overall. 247Sports — Four stars, No. 13 OLB, No. 172 overall.


First impression: Barajas is a hard-nosed linebacker who plays physical from sideline-to-sideline. He fulfills the role of backfield bully in getting to the ball carrier behind the line of scrimmage with regularity. Notre Dame’s roster doesn’t have many linebackers with the same combination of athleticism and physicality that Barajas possesses.

Strengths: Barajas can play inside or outside, but either way he’s going to make plays in the backfield. From the inside, Barajas navigates through linemen well and finds cracks in the offense to disrupt a play. He quickly reacts on an opening and closes in on the ball. From the outside, Barajas has a strong presence blitzing on the edge. He turns the corner well on inferior pass blockers. Barajas does more than wreak havoc in between the tackles. Even from the inside linebacker position he reads and moves fast enough to prevent a runner from turning the corner on him.

He did what? (:14) With his left hand wrapped up from a broken finger and subsequent surgery, Barajas still manages to block a punt. He cuts inside on his blocker, dives and knocks down the ball with his right hand … (:53) Barajas beats the quarterback to the sideline on a sweep. He hesitates slightly to find a gap and sprints by an offensive lineman to make the tackle … (1:39) Barajas reads run and attacks the line of scrimmage at the snap. Barajas arrives at the hole before a pulling lineman can get to him and blows up the running back … (2:22) Barajas, who played tight end at times, recovers his own running back’s fumble and has the presence of mind to stop blocking and pick up the ball. He picks up another 15 yards as a result of being alert.

Competition level: Andrean plays in one of the smaller classifications in Indiana against teams with a limited number of FBS-level players. Barajas and Co. stepped up in games against bigger programs in Merrillville and Munster and squeaked by Fort Wayne Bishop Luers, an annual state contender with quality talent, including 2016 wide receiver target Austin Mack. MaxPreps slated the 59ers No. 16 in its computer state rankings.

Left to prove: Few highlights of Barajas in pass coverage made his film. From in-person evaluations, Barajas has shown to be a little stiff in coverage. He’s clearly much more comfortable playing downhill than dropping back. He will be asked to sharpen his coverage skills at Notre Dame. He has the agility and reflexes to be successful, but will need more practice. With a more complicated scheme, it will be important for Barajas to maintain his confidence to play aggressive. He’s at his best when he diagnoses a play and chases the ball. | 574-235-6214 | Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Andrean's Josh Barajas plays with a bandaged hand in Andrean's 49-27 loss to Tri-West in the IHSAA Class 3A state championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium. (Photo courtesy of The Times of Northwest Indiana)