First-round playoff losses don’t tend to sit well.
Ovie Oghoufo knows the feeling. That’s how last season ended. Oghoufo, a four-star junior linebacker from Farmington Hills, Mich., helped Harrison High School to a 7-2 regular season before falling 10-0 to Birmingham Groves in the postseason.
That lingered for Oghoufo and his teammates all summer. It bled into fall camp too.
“We’ve carried that as a motivator,” Oghoufo said. “We definitely try not to think about the past. But we don’t want that to happen again.”
Oghoufo puts some of that burden on himself. Now an upperclassman, he wants to lead more. Harrison will be without some defenders from last season, notably former four-star defensive end Khalid Kareem, now a freshman a Notre Dame.
There’s also a matter of production: Oghoufo expects to boost all his numbers. Last year he recorded about 70 tackles, eight sacks and 19 tackles-for-loss.
“Definitely the No. 1 is to win a state championship,” Oghoufo said. “I definitely wanna make all-state this year and be a big contributor to our team’s wins. I set number goals. I just want my stats to be more than what I had last year.”
Oghoufo also acknowledges this season will be different in other ways.
Notre Dame scored a verbal commitment from the 6-foot-3, 220-pound prospect last month. Oghoufo chose the Irish over scholarship offers from Boston College, Cincinnati, Iowa State, Michigan, Michigan State and Syracuse, among others.
Doing so comes with a certain amount of publicity. But Oghoufo prefers to skirt that spotlight.
“I just play my game,” he said. “I really don't think about what people say, hype or anything. You pretty much get what you get.”
Being committed is something Oghoufo called a “reliever” and the plan is to return to campus at least once during the season. He’s targeted trips for the Michigan State and Stanford games.
Oghoufo has connected with some of the other current commitments via text and social media about those visit plans. Four-star running back Markese Stepp is a ringleader for Irish pledges in the Class of 2018, but the current six-man haul continues grow closer.
“It’s been really good,” Oghoufo said. “We’re definitely all on the same page. We hit each other up every day, just encouraging, having fun. We think about times where we can all meet up at Notre Dame soon.”