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Notre Dame 99-to-2: No. 52 Bo Bauer, four-star linebacker, early-enrolled freshman

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Listed Measurements: 6-foot-2 ¾, 216 pounds
2018-19 year, eligibility: Early-enrolled freshman with four years of eligibility remaining, including the 2018 season.
Depth chart: Bauer’s early arrival puts him in the mix for some reserve duties behind senior Te’von Coney. Junior Jonathan Jones is the presumptive backup to Coney, but Bauer’s ceiling is much higher than Jones’, meaning the former could make that jump this year, though that would be sooner than necessarily expected.
Recruiting: A rivals.com four-star recruit and No. 5 inside linebacker in the country, Bauer committed to Notre Dame way back in August of 2016, stymying any elaborate recruitment despite also holding offers from Michigan State, Penn State and Vanderbilt.

QUOTE(S)
Spring discussions are almost universally filled with praise and only praise. Occasionally an honest review will pop up regarding an early-enrolled freshman. In Bauer’s case, however, Irish head coach Brian Kelly still had only positive things to say.

“Bo Bauer has done a really nice job of getting his nose in there and making himself available,” Kelly said in late March. “When you talk about getting in there physically, that’s the tough part.”

As one of three freshman linebackers to enroll early, there were easy points to compare Bauer to. Whereas Jack Lamb and Ovie Oghoufo shined with their athleticism, they do not necessarily have the durability needed to contribute at linebacker as freshmen.

“Bauer probably combines both of those right now,” Kelly said. “His physicality is really good. He’s capable of probably playing right away. Of the three guys, he’s a little bit ahead of them.”

WHAT WAS SAID WHEN BAUER’S NATIONAL LETTER OF INTENT ARRIVED
“Bauer already has much of the physicality necessarily for the collegiate level, though he may not be as readily-athletic as fellow commit Shayne Simon, for example.

“… If [junior] Jonathan Jones … does not prove worthy of an influx of playing time, Bauer could quickly establish himself as a second-stringer seeing competitive action.”

2018 OUTLOOK
Bauer’s chances of playing as a freshman hinge on Jones’ progress. (It should be noted sophomores Drew White and David Adams were intentionally not mentioned in that thought; they were not omitted by forgetfulness.) If Jones proves worthy of 20-25 snaps each week, giving Coney plenty of a break to remain effective, then Bauer might be able to preserve a year of eligibility.

Yet, that may not be the best course of action, even if viable. Such a further discussion comes in the next section of this piece, but the immediate effect will be Bauer should see some time in 2018. For that to be in competitive moments, he will either have to earn such or Jones will have to fall short for another season.

At the least, getting Bauer a handful of snaps in a half dozen games will serve to get his feet wet, at least as much as can be expected when playing behind the likes of Coney. His abilities fitting gaps against the run will assure him of a few tackles.

DOWN THE ROAD
It is in Notre Dame’s best interests in the long-term for Bauer to play in the short-term because of the near-certainty he will be relied upon in 2019. With Coney gone, either Jones, Bauer or Lamb will be looked to as the starter in the middle of the defense. Whoever steps forward, Bauer will be a bigger piece than he should be in 2018.

Jones has not had much of a chance to date, playing behind Nyles Morgan and now Coney, but he has also failed to force the issue. Bauer stands to move past him at some point or another. The sooner it is, the better it bodes for his career as a whole, even if it is in tandem with Lamb. Such a duo is the byproduct of pulling in a linebacker group of four heralded as much as this quartet is, and the Irish will gladly balance Bauer and Lamb for the next few years.

NOTRE DAME 99-to-2:
No. 99 Jerry Tillery, defensive tackle, senior
No. 97 Micah Dew-Treadway, defensive tackle, senior
No. 95 Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, defensive tackle, sophomore
No. 94 Darnell Ewell, defensive tackle, sophomore
No. 93 (theoretically) Ja’Mion Franklin, defensive tackle, incoming freshman
No. 91 Ade Ogundeji, defensive end, junior
No. 90 (theoretically) Tommy Tremble, tight end, incoming freshman
No. 89 Brock Wright, tight end, sophomore
No. 88 Javon McKinley, receiver, junior
No. 87 Michael Young, receiver, sophomore
No. 86 Alizé Mack, tight end, senior
No. 85 George Takacs, tight end, early-enrolled freshman
No. 85 Tyler Newsome, punter and captain, fifth-year senior
No. 84 Cole Kmet, tight end, sophomore
No. 83 Chase Claypool, receiver, junior
No. 82 Nic Weishar, tight end, fifth-year senior
No. 81 Miles Boykin, receiver, senior
No. 80 Micah Jones, receiver, early-enrolled freshman
No. 79 (theoretically) Cole Mabry, offensive tackle, incoming freshman
No. 78 Tommy Kraemer, right guard, junior
No. 77 (theoretically) Jarrett Patterson, offensive tackle, incoming freshman
No. 76 Dillan Gibbons, offensive lineman, sophomore
No. 75 Josh Lugg, offensive lineman, sophomore
No. 74 Liam Eichenberg, starting left tackle, junior
No. 73 (theoretically) Luke Jones, offensive lineman, incoming freshman
No. 72 Robert Hainsey, right tackle, sophomore
No. 71 Alex Bars, left guard and captain, fifth-year senior
No. 70 (theoretically) John Dirksen, offensive lineman, incoming freshman
No. 69 Aaron Banks, offensive tackle, sophomore
No. 57 Trevor Ruhland, offensive lineman, senior
No. 57 (theoretically), Jayson Ademilola, defensive tackle, incoming freshman
No. 55 Jonathan Bonner, defensive tackle, fifth-year senior
No. 54 John Shannon, long snapper, junior
No. 53 Khalid Kareem, defensive end, junior
No. 53 Sam Mustipher, center and captain, fifth-year senior
No. 11 Freddy Canteen, receiver, outgoing transfer