Recruiting Reset: Notre Dame loaded at linebacker in the 2018 class

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

If you’re a young linebacker on Notre Dame’s roster, you'd better be ready for competition.

The Irish are prepared to bring in an embarrassment of riches in the 2018 recruiting class. Four players with linebacker skill sets are already committed to the class: inside linebackers Bo Bauer and Jack Lamb, outside linebacker Ovie Oghoufo and rover Shayne Simon.

Together they complement each other well with varying strengths and some bringing position flexibility. Defensive coordinator Mike Elko and linebackers coach Clark Lea will have plenty of options to play with in the 4-2-5 scheme.

The new coaches inherited the commitments of Oghoufo and Bauer, who each gave their pledge before the 2016 season, and added onto the class with Simon and Lamb in July.

Commitments

• OLB Ovie Oghoufo, 6-3, 209; Farmington Hills (Mich.) Harrison: Oghoufo became the first linebacker to commit to Notre Dame’s 2018 class long before defensive coordinator Mike Elko joined the Irish. He might also be the linebacker commit

that’s hardest to project in Elko’s defense. But at Oghoufo’s core is a versatile athlete who could be molded into a number of different roles.

The three-star recruit received an offer from Notre Dame in June of 2016 following an impressive camp performance. He returned to campus a month later and gave the Irish his commitment despite offers from Michigan and Michigan State.

Oghoufo, who attends the same high school that sent defensive end Khalid Kareem to Notre Dame, has been a valuable recruiter for the Irish. He was vocal with his support for Notre Dame through last season’s 4-8 disaster and even helped the Irish land a commitment from cornerback Kalon Gervin. Gervin eventually backed off his pledge, but he’s still considering Notre Dame.

At The Opening Finals in July, Oghoufo competed alongside seven current Notre Dame commits. He showed his ability to play naturally in coverage and break on the ball on short routes. He does a little bit of everything for Harrison. In recent games, Oghoufo has taken some direct snaps as a running quarterback, caught touchdown passes as a tight end and returned a kickoff for a touchdown.

247Sports slates Oghoufo as the No. 27 outside linebacker in the 2018 class. Rivals ranks him as the No. 34 outside linebacker.

• ILB Bo Bauer, 6-3, 215; Erie (Pa.) Cathedral Prep: Recruiting services list the Irish linebacker commit as Matthew Bauer. Those who know him best call him Bo. That includes the opposing quarterbacks and running backs he so frequently terrorizes.

Regardless of his name, Bauer was nationally recognized a big-time talent when he committed to Notre Dame in August of last year. After competing in the Irish Invasion camp, he returned to campus and received an offer from Notre Dame. He committed on the spot while passing on offers from Penn State, Pittsburgh, Michigan State and others.

Bauer plays the position like an old-school middle linebacker. He runs downhill and bruises opponents for a powerhouse program. Last season, Cathedral Prep won the PIAA Class AAAA state championship with an undefeated 14-0 record. The Ramblers are off to a 5 0 start once again.

As a junior, Bauer totaled 114 tackles (72 solo), 22 tackles for a loss, 12 sacks, two safeties and returned a fumble for a touchdown. In the first five games of his senior season, Bauer made 32 tackles, nine tackles for a loss and 3.5 sacks.

Rivals rates Bauer as a four-star recruit and the No. 5 inside linebacker in the 2018 class. 247Sports slates him as a three-star recruit and No. 20 at his position.

• ROV Shayne Simon, 6-3, 200; Jersey City (N.J.) St. Peter’s Prep: The rover position in defensive coordinator Mike Elko’s scheme has so far been filled on Notre Dame’s roster by players who have safety work on their high school résumés. Simon will continue that trend, though his versatility already had him pegged as a future outside linebacker.

Simon, who teams with fellow Irish commits Justin and Jayson Ademilola at St. Peter’s Prep, committed to Notre Dame in July over offers from Michigan, Ohio State, Stanford, Penn State and more. A pledge from Simon, a four-star recruit, may be one of Notre Dame’s most significant recruiting victories in the class.

247Sports slates Simon as the No. 8 outside linebacker in the country. Rivals ranks him 10th.

Simon, like Irish captain Drue Tranquill, can be disruptive near the line of scrimmage while also being comfortable in coverage. Yet Simon should come to Notre Dame as a better athlete.

In the first three games of his senior season, Simon has been a key part of the St. Peter’s Prep offense at wide receiver. He’s totaled 21 receptions for 439 yards and five touchdowns as a big-play threat. No one else on the team has more than eight catches.

• ILB Jack Lamb, 6-4, 211; Temecula (Calif.) Great Oak: The addition of Lamb to Notre Dame’s class in July put the Irish in the conversation for best linebacker haul in the country. And Lamb may have the highest ceiling of all four Irish pledges.

Rivals ranks Lamb as the No. 2 inside linebacker in the 2018 class. 247Sports slates him seventh at the position.

Unfortunately for Lamb, his senior season has been hampered by an injury. In the first game of the season, Lamb said, he suffered a partial tear of the patella in his left knee. He expected to be sidelined for six-to-eight weeks, but he could decide to sit out the entire season as a precaution despite not needing surgery.

Lamb didn’t let his injury prevent him from making an official visit to Notre Dame for the Georgia game earlier this month. He was able to get a better look at the defense he’ll have a chance to play for with the Irish. Lamb could play either inside linebacker positions in Elko’s scheme.

As a junior Lamb recorded 117 tackles (80 solo), 18 tackles for a loss, four sacks, two fumble recoveries and one interception. If he improves on his 40-yard dash time of 4.7 seconds, he could become a sideline-to-sideline player for Notre Dame.

Missed targets

• Dallas Gant, 6-3, 208; Toledo (Ohio) St. John’s: Gant earned offers from Ohio State and Notre Dame on back-to-back days in June of last year following camp performances. Both schools hosted Gant for multiple visits after that. Ohio State landed his commitment in May.

247Sports: Four stars, No. 5 OLB. | Rivals: Four stars, No. 21 OLB.

• Cameron McGrone, 6-1, 210; Indianapolis Lawrence Central: When Notre Dame offer McGrone in May, the Irish sat in a solid position with the in-state recruit. He had visited multiple times and returned for the Irish Invasion. Then Michigan offered in June. The Wolverines won out with a commitment in July.

247Sports: Four stars, No. 3 OLB. | Rivals: Four stars, No. 18 OLB.

tjames@ndinsider.com

574-235-6214

Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Bo Bauer runs drills during Irish Invasion Saturday, June 10, 2017, inside Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend. Tribune Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN

In the coming days, the ND Insider Recruiting Reset series will take a position-by-position look at Notre Dame’s recruiting efforts in the 2018 class. This is the eighth story of the series.

Quarterback: Early work paying off at QB

Running backs: Irish packing a powerful punch

Wide receivers: With size in hand, ND left looking for speed

Tight ends: Irish not settling for less

Offensive line: ND still looking for star power

Defensive tackle: Irish quickly turning DT into a strength

Defensive end: Pass rush still a priority for ND