Notre Dame needed defensive help during the final weeks before National Signing Day.
A coaching change in South Bend helped deliver it. But so did some innovative development at Bethel High School in Virginia. So as much as the additions of Mike Elko and Clark Lea to the Irish staff opened the door for Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah to fill the rover position, the outside-the-box approach of Bethel head coach William Beverley set that stage.
Now Notre Dame will benefit. Maybe this fall.
“It’s amazing how that came to fruition,” Beverley said. “This time last year, we had decided that Jeremiah was going to play multiple positions for us. Begrudgingly, he did. Initially, he didn’t see himself playing mike linebacker or stand-up defensive end, two positions he hadn’t played before.”
Once they started moving the explosive future rover around, his true potential started to shine.
“The first week, we put him as a stand-up defensive end, he rushed the passer off the edge and lead the team in tackles and really disrupted everything that took place on the field against the No. 2-rated team in the state, who had a kid with an offer from Alabama and several other kids that had offers,” Beverley said.
“The following week, we played a perennial powerhouse and we moved him inside to the mike linebacker. He had an excellent game at that position. Week-to-week, he went from safety to linebacker to end and as I alluded to ‘begrudgingly,’ he bought into the concept that we needed him to be our rover.”
But getting Owusu-Koramoah into Notre Dame’s class required more than that manufactured versatility.
That’s where a connection to Elko and Lea at Wake Forest played a part.
“Ironically, the coach that recruited him was at Wake Forest and they were trying to recruit him for the same type of deal,” Beverley said. “And when coach Mike Elko got the job at Notre Dame, he called me and said they were changing their defense and Jeremiah fit perfectly to what they wanted to do.”
Like the Irish defensive coaching staff, Beverley also feels Owusu-Koramoah fits the rover position like a glove.
“Basically, he’s suited for it, he’s done it in high school, his body has the density and the length to play both in space as well as the confining areas. I’m excited to see things play out for him this year and the future as well. He’s going to excel and excel abundantly.”
Owusu-Koramoah has been working on the basic tenets of playing college football.
“In the offseason, I went to work on all the assets of football, whether that’s getting in contact with coach and going over the playbook, getting some understanding,” Owusu-Koramoah said. “That’s probably going to be the biggest part as a freshman coming in, understanding the defense and understanding the offense and the different schemes.
At 6-foot-3, 197-pounds, Owusu-Koramoah feels he has room to grow. Given he started school a year early as a youngster, he’s currently behind his current classmates in age.
“As far as physically, you just want to get as big and strong as possible,” Owusu-Koramoah said. “That position has 230, 220, 210 (pound athletes) and you want to meet those requirements. It’s depending on my body. Hopefully, I grow some more, I’m only 17. I feel like I can grow to be bigger than I am.
“So, just basically getting stronger, not really gaining that much weight. I want to gain as much weight as possible and still retain my speed.”
Once not too sure about playing a role outside of his former position at safety, Owusu-Koramoah can’t wait to learn his future spot on the Irish defense.
Considering he scored 1310 on his SAT, Owusu-Koramoah should adapt to Elko’s scheme in time to contribute this fall.
“I’m really intrigued by playing the rover,” Owusu-Koramoah said. “I love this position. I was being recruited for it at Michigan State, I believe. It’s just a position that I fit and I really love it.
Last winter, while he was in South Bend for his official visit, Owusu-Koramoah spent a considerable amount of time going over X’s and O’s with a Notre Dame captain.
“I was in the film room with Nyles (Morgan) and we were talking about the school and not to be afraid to come (to Notre Dame) because being Notre Dame and their academics,” Owusu-Koramoah said. “He gave me some food-for-thought, said the defense is not that hard, things like that. So, him telling me this made me feel at home. He was teaching me techniques and tackling techniques and things like that, how to make things easier. He even taught me some studying techniques to make things easier in school. He's just a real cool guy. I appreciate him giving me that insight.”
Owusu-Koramoah elaborated on his connection with Notre Dame’s new defensive staff and the impact the relationship had on his recruitment.
He was committed to Virginia then entered a tug-of-war battle between Michigan State and Notre Dame.
“Coach Elko and coach Lea, being at Wake Forest, were one of the first schools to recruit me,” Owusu-Koramoah said. “They were just always there. They would come by the school. Coach Lea was always one of the most consistent recruiting coaches that I was ever in contact with. When he got the job at Notre Dame, he hit me up when I was committed at (Virginia) and said, ‘I’m not telling you where to go, I’m just letting you know that I’m at Notre Dame now.’”
In the end, Notre Dame had always been his dream school.
“When he was at Wake Forest, he asked me to be honest and ‘if I could go to any school, where would it be?’ I was like, ‘Notre Dame.’ That was god telling me it was the right place.”