Notre Dame defense adds another reinforcement with return of linebacker Bo Bauer in 2022

Justin Frommer
ND Insider
Notre Dame’s Bo Bauer (52) holding a notepad after the Notre Dame vs. Stanford NCAA football game Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021 at Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto, Calif.

Notre Dame’s defense continues to add reinforcements for the 2022 season.

Linebacker, Bo Bauer was the latest Irish player to announce his intentions to play one more season in South Bend, writing “I’m back” on his Instagram page.

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Bauer, who will be a super senior next season, tallied 45 tackles, 1.5 sacks and his first career interception in Notre Dame’s win over Southern California last season. 

He also had a career-high nine tackles in an Irish win over Georgia Tech and a career-high in sacks (1.5) in a win at Virginia.

A former four-star in Notre Dame’s 2018 recruiting class, Bauer has never missed a game in his Irish career. He has racked up 109 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks over his four seasons in South Bend, mostly playing as a backup behind Drew White at the MIKE linebacker position.

With White gone, the expectation is for Bauer to slide into White’s starting spot, next to senior, JD Bertrand at the WILL linebacker spot, and senior Jack Kiser at the ROVER position to form an experienced, formidable linebacker corps.

This week, the Irish took a depth hit at that position with rover Isaiah Pryor putting his name in the 2022 NFL Draft and freshman Kahanu Kia walking away from football for a two-year Mormon mission trip, which he announced over his Twitter Monday afternoon. When Kia returns in 2024 he will still have three years of eligibility remaining, and his scholarship won’t count against Notre Dame’s limit while he is gone.

Notre Dame also received more good news over the weekend with defensive linemen Justin Ademilola, Jayson Ademilola and Isaiah Foskey announcing their intentions to return for the 2022 to season. 

The Irish open the 2022 season Sept. 3 at Ohio State.

Joe Wilkins Jr. announces return for 2022 

Notre Dame received good news on Tuesday about one of its thinnest positions. 

Notre Dame junior Joe Wilkins Jr., believes he and the entire group of Irish wide receivers have something special in store for the 2021 college football season.

Senior wideout, Joe Wilkins Jr. announced that he will be back for his fifth season, after seeing his 2021 season end earlier than expected with a season-ending MCL injury in Notre Dame's loss to Cincinnati. 

"Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny. I’m back for mine," Wilkins Jr. wrote on his Instagram. 

Wilkins Jr. played in a reserve role in each of ND’s first five games this season, recording four receptions for 63 yards and a TD in the Irish's season-opening win at Florida State. Before the year, former Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said that Wilkins Jr. had a "transformational" offseason heading into 2021. 

In three seasons with the Irish, Wilkins Jr. has recorded 11 career receptions for 124 yards and two touchdowns, but will likely need to have a bigger impact for Notre Dame's offense in 2022. 

The Irish have will be young at wide receiver next year, with seniors Braden Lenzy and Avery Davis leading the group following the departure of Kevin Austin Jr. for the NFL Draft. Soon-to-be sophomores Deion Colzie and Lorenzo Styles Jr. will likely be stepping into more feature roles, along with Wilkins Jr. and possibly Tobias Merriweather, a four-star signee in Notre Dame's 2022 class could see some time as well. 

Notre Dame's receivers will also be operating under a new position coach, with Del Alexander not being retained for next season. His departure has yet to be confirmed by Notre Dame.