When Notre Dame flipped Josh Barajas from Penn State during the four-star linebacker’s recruitment, it appeared the Irish might have landed their next defensive star following Jaylon Smith and Nyles Morgan.
It never worked out that way.
On Wednesday the 6-foot-2, 239-pound junior from Valparaiso, Ind., announced plans to transfer out of Notre Dame for Illinois State. Because Barajas will drop down to the FCS level he’ll be immediately eligible with three years remaining.
Barajas ends his Notre Dame career with nine games played, one red shirt and zero tackles. It was a stark contrast to his prep profile out of Andrean High School, where Barajas was a unanimous four-star prospect, a U.S. Army All-American and the nation’s No. 51 overall prospect on Scout.
Barajas was slowed by a hamstring injury early during his freshman year and never recovered to make a push at playing time, falling out of shape and favor. He barely scratched the two deep during spring ball this off-season, running behind younger linebackers who’ve yet to make a mark on the defense.
However, the departure is necessary in one respect.
The transfer gets Notre Dame to the 85-man scholarship limit, which the Irish were projected to be one over entering summer workouts. It’s worth noting that programs don’t need to be at the 85-man limit until the start of the season.
Losing Barajas means the Irish should enter summer workouts with seven linebackers for the two inside positions: Morgan, Greer Martini, Te’von Coney, Jonathan Jones, Jamir Jones, Drew White and David Adams. The Irish also have Matthew Bauer in the commitment column for ‘18 and want one more inside linebacker in the class.