Four-star LB Matthew Bauer commits to Notre Dame's 2018 recruiting class

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

Matthew Bauer sat down in Brian Kelly’s office hoping to receive the news he’d been waiting to hear.

Not long after Notre Dame’s head coach extended the 2018 linebacker recruit a scholarship offer, Bauer shared good news of his own. He wanted to commit to the Irish.

The 6-foot-3, 215-pound linebacker gave Notre Dame his pledge at the tail end of his campus visit on Wednesday. It became a befitting transition from prospect to target to commit for a football player of Bauer’s profile.

“Everything about it is just so great,” Bauer said. “Between the academics, the athletics, the social life of the campus and the alumni base, you can't get much better than it. It's perfect for me. It was just a great fit.”

The junior at Erie (Pa.) Cathedral Prep becomes the sixth recruit to join Notre Dame’s 2018 class, the sixth recruit from Western Pennsylvania in Notre Dame’s 2017 and 2018 classes, and the sixth linebacker to commit in either class.

Linebackers coach Mike Elston, also the program’s recruiting coordinator, could field complete linebacker trios in each class. Bauer, who projects as a middle linebacker, would be flanked by outside linebacker Ovie Oghoufo and Justin Ademilola in the 2018 class if neither grow into defensive ends. David Adams, Drew White and Pete Werner complete the trio in the 2017 class.

Bauer, who goes by “Bo,” just might be the best of the bunch. The four-star recruit tallied 104 tackles, 11 tackles for a loss and 3.5 sacks. 247Sports slates him as the No. 2 inside linebacker in the 2018 class.

“The kid can play,” said CBS Sports Network recruiting analyst Tom Lemming. “He's a tough kid. He'll have really good size by the time he graduates. He'll be about 230 or 240 (pounds). He makes a lot of plays. He has great range.

“He's a typical, Pennsylvania hard-nosed linebacker — the kind that they always produce and normally goes to Penn State.”

Something about Western Pennsylvania and Notre Dame seems to be clicking after the Irish played in Pittsburgh last season. The six commits Notre Dame has poached out of the state are more than Penn State (four) and Pittsburgh (three) each have in the 2017 and 2018 classes. All six Irish pledges received offers from the Nittany Lions and Panthers.

“Pitt must be reeling because that's Pitt's area,” Lemming said. “The same thing with Penn State, although Penn State with that staff is (recruiting) more national. Joe Paterno would be going crazy."

Even though Bauer committed in short order on Wednesday, his Irish recruitment was months in the making. Bauer had his head coach reach out to Notre Dame to express interest in the program. Notre Dame was already familiar with Cathedral Prep after recruiting kicker John Chereson to join the

Irish as a walk-on in 2013.

Elston evaluated Bauer in the spring and invited him to compete at the Irish Invasion in June. At that point, Bauer was hoping to play both baseball and football in college. But after speaking with Elston on his visit to South Bend, Bauer learned that playing baseball likely wouldn’t be an

option for him at Notre Dame.

Unlike wide receiver Torii Hunter Jr., who has also played outfield for the Irish baseball team, Bauer would need more time to be prepared to play his position on the football field.

"They said that at a position like that where you just have to learn a route or just run a certain direction, that's one case,” Bauer said. “But when you have to basically be the quarterback of the defense, know what everyone's doing and get everybody in line, it's going to take more time than just memorizing a few plays. I have to understand the big picture of things. With that time off and not being able to have spring ball, he doesn't think that I could get to that point where I could be the best I possibly could.”

During July, Bauer decided giving up baseball in college would be worth the chance of playing football at Notre Dame.

"They didn't want me to pursue it because it wasn't in the best interest for me or the team,” Bauer said. “I understood it. They brought up good points, so I understood what they were saying. After I really thought about it, I understood and agreed with them.”

That’s why Notre Dame waited until Wednesday to extend Bauer a scholarship offer. The honesty he received from Elston throughout the process contributed to his desire to play for him in the future.

"When you talk to him, he's such an honest guy and such a great person and someone that you can follow as a coach,” Bauer said. “I really liked it. Then you add how he really knows what he's talking about and the defense is one of the best in the country, it's easy to fall in love with Notre Dame.”

Below are sophomore highlights of Bauer via Hudl.

Blessed Beyond Measure ☘☘☘ pic.twitter.com/GwQ79lP5am

— BO (@BoBauer27) August 3, 2016

☘☘☘☘☘☘!!#IrishBouND18pic.twitter.com/9pGISHXZ2M

— Mike Elston (@CoachMikeElston) August 3, 2016

#WeAreND

— Brian Kelly (@CoachBrianKelly) August 3, 2016

tjames@ndinsider.com | 574-235-6214 | Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Four-star linebacker Matthew "Bo" Bauer committed to Notre Dame during a campus visit Wednesday. (Photo courtesy of Rivals)