Notre Dame has an opening at linebacker this cycle. To fill it, the Irish hit Southern California during the spring evaluation period to check out four-star Bo Calvert of Oaks Christian.
Scout rates Calvert at No. 103 overall and the fourth-best outside linebacker in the country.
The 6-foot-4, 218-pound junior racked up 61 tackles, seven tackles for loss, 11 ½ sacks, 11 QB hurries and a fumble recovery for a touchdown last season.
To add to that stat line, Calvert had an impressive showing at The Opening Regional in Los Angeles.
He ran a 4.68 40-yard dash, a 4.26 shuttle, put up a 40 in the powerball event and posted a vertical jump of almost 32 inches. He finished with a 106.08 Nike Score, good enough for eighth-overall at an event that boasted many of the top athletes in the country.
Considering Calvert committed to USC more than a year ago, his offer list isn’t typical for a Top 150 prospect. Still, Notre Dame, BYU, Nebraska, Utah and Virginia are all on the board. Calvert’s father played for the Utes.
But not only did the Irish offer Bo in the ’18 class, they made a move on his younger brother too, sophomore safety Josh Calvert. And that recruiting play by Notre Dame has the four-star thinking.
“Coming into high school, this was the first year that Josh came up and played in Varsity,” Bo said. “We have pretty much gelled together on any team that we’ve played on, with no practice or prior things needing to be said because we’ve been playing together in our backyard and with our family.”
The Calverts like the idea of teaming up in college.
“I don’t think there’s any other player out there that I have been able to connect with, both outside of school, in sports, as a friend, and as a player on the field,” Bo said. “He knows where I’m going to be and I know where he’s going to be and there’s really no communication that needs to be set up during the play or outside the play for us to know what we’re going to do.
“We’re a real mean duo together in a sense that we kind of take it personally when somebody makes a play on the other brother or they kind of come after us, jawing and talking trash to us. We take that personally as an attack on our brother. The next play, we try to get up and get after it together and it’s definitely a dogfight every play with Josh. I’m just glad to have him by my side.
“So, I think the bond that Josh and I have is really special and definitely wouldn’t be able to replace that with anybody else going into college. Just because I don’t think there is any other way that I could have that bond without my brother. Nobody could really replace that.”
With the Irish offering both Calvert brothers, the standout junior linebacker and his 6-foot-3, 205-pound younger brother can now look at the possibility of playing together in college in a new way.
“Of course, I would love to play with him again in college and we never really talked about it before when we were younger, as it never really seemed like a reality until these last couple of months, schools have come forward and been talking to us legitimately about us playing together,” Bo said. “Notre Dame is one of the first schools that is a big-time school with huge tradition, huge linebacker tradition specifically, and having Josh and I be able to play there together in that defense, I think we could fit perfectly.”
Taking the big picture into consideration, Bo is re-assessing his recruitment with his brother more in the picture.
“So, for recruiting purposes for me this spring, I’ve kind of stepped back in a third-person point of view, looking at myself as a recruit in the recruiting process and sort of see where is the best place for me and where would be the best place with Josh, also.”
Attention from USC’s rival hasn’t sat well with everyone local to him, but Bo is using his best judgment to decipher his recruitment and future.
“It was definitely tentative ground to step on, opening up to the public that Josh and I both had offers to Notre Dame and that I am looking at them,” Bo said. “It came with a lot of heat. A lot of fans from USC definitely have given me a fair share of wanting me to ignore Notre Dame or whatnot. I’m definitely opening the door to talking to all coaches from Notre Dame, frankly all schools that give me an opportunity like that.”
Born and raised in Southern California, the older Calvert is low on knowledge of Notre Dame and the Midwest in general. The Irish have their West Coast recruiter on the job, bringing Bo up to speed on what he could expect in South Bend.
“The main coach I’ve been talking to is coach Brian Polian,” Bo said. “He’s a great guy. We’ve talked a lot about the non-football aspect of Notre Dame. I’m pretty much raw as for knowledge about Notre Dame outside of football. I don’t really know much, living here in California. He’s really opened the doors showing me everything about Notre Dame and the coaching staff up there and him himself.
“I’ve talked with him several times over the phone and I text him daily now to the point where we’re building a relationship far more than just a recruit and a coach. It’s more of a man-to-man, heart-to-heart talks that we’re having over the phone.”
Education isn’t something Bo just preaches to the media. He boasts a 3.4 GPA and intends on building a strong foundation with important connections during his college years.
“A huge part is the academics part at Notre Dame,” he said. “(Academics) is one of the reasons why I chose USC initially, their academics and connections after college. Notre Dame has the same exact thing.”
As for what’s next, the four-star defender has a plan.
“First, I’d like to see what are the opportunities after college outside of school, outside of football,” Bo said. “What am I going to be able to have from graduating from that school? Notre Dame definitely checks off in that regard. Everyone respects the Notre Dame name and a degree from Notre Dame. They’re highly respected around the nation, not just in the Midwest.
“Second of all, life in the school. I want to be at a place where I’m going to be happy, a place that I’m going to be OK after football season is over. For now, Notre Dame could be a place I could possibly really like to live in.
“Third of all, football, obviously. Notre Dame has a great football program and checks off on that. Everyone knows they have a great football program and the history of athletes coming out of there and on to the NFL.
“I think in all three of those categories, Notre Dame really checks off. For me, I’d really like to get up there in person and see it all for myself.”
Holding only two offers before the Irish put one on the table, Josh Calvert’s recruitment took a major jump when Notre Dame came knocking.
“Josh was really psyched up about the offer,” Bo said. “It was pretty much his first big-time offer from a big school like Notre Dame. He was obviously super excited to have a school we both shared an athletic scholarship to go to. I think that really piqued his interest, just like me, to be able to attend a school where we would both go to.”
The ’19 athlete tallied 77 tackles last fall during his first season of varsity action. He also played some quarterback, a factor that should earn his strong football awareness while competing in the defensive backfield.
“He led our team in tackles,” Bo said. “He’s not just ‘Bo’s brother,’ he’s Josh Calvert, his own player in his own remarks and he can be recruited without my help. He’s kind of beginning to realize he has a legit shot at being a national football recruit.”
While there is plenty of excitement regarding Notre Dame’s recruitment of the Calvert duo, the recruitment is young and the Irish will work on getting them on campus as soon as possible.
Defensive coordinator Mike Elko is expected at Oaks Christian in the coming weeks.
“As for Notre Dame, as of now I for sure want to go up there and visit, if not my senior year, before then,” Bo said. “If I can’t visit this summer, I probably will plan on taking one of my official visits to Notre Dame. That’s how serious I am about the school and everything up there.”