Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 26, 2019*

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 15 of 55

16 OCT. 26, 2019 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY ANDREW MENTOCK N otre Dame junior rover Jer- emiah Owusu-Koramoah lined up across from Geor- gia slot receiver Josh Moran while a crowd of 93,246 cheered and roared anticipating the snap. It was second-and-11 at the Bulldogs 46 with 3:33 left to go in the first quarter. Prior to the game, m a n y e x p e c t e d the Georgia of- fense to dominate the Irish, and at this moment the Bulldogs were methodically mov- ing the ball down the field with dy- namic runs and short throws. The Irish needed to quell the momentum. The ball was snapped and quickly thrown out to receiver Matt Land- ers, lined up as an H-back. Owusu- Koramoah reacted, shed a block from Moran with ease and wrapped up the right leg of Landers for a one- yard loss. That was the first tackle of the game for the 6-1, 215-pound Owusu- Koramoah. By the end, he led the team with eight total stops and 2.5 tackles for a loss. The game ended with the Irish on the losing end of a 23-17 score, but breakout performances from inexpe- rienced defenders such as Owusu- Koramoah kept the Irish in the game right into the final minute. Due to a redshirt his freshman year and a broken foot during his sophomore campaign, Owusu-Kora- moah saw limited on-the-field action prior to 2019. However, that hasn't stopped him from producing at a high level this season and at times — even against a team full of former five-star recruits like Georgia — look- ing like the most dynamic athlete on the field. "It's an amazing feeling to tran- sition from being at home and not traveling to being hurt, and now playing — it's a whole different world and mindset," Owusu-Kora- moah said. "Even off the field, the academics are picking up, and hav- ing to focus on the game plan, com- bining the two together is a hard but beautiful challenge." He is a product of Bethel High School in Hampton, Va., a school with a history of producing high- level talent on the gridiron. Owusu- Koramoah appears to be carrying on that tradition. The most distinguished football player to come from the program might be safety Shaun Gayle, a captain on the 1985 Super Bowl XX champion Chicago Bears. Yet the professional athlete and Bethel alum who potentially has had the biggest impact on Owusu-Kora- moah's maturation never played football after high school. After the loss to Georgia, Bethel alum and basketball Hall of Famer Allen Iverson reached out to Owusu- Koramoah through his manager, Gary Moore, and congratulated him on a good game. This is a connection that Owusu- Koramoah established while in high school. Iverson still has a strong re- lationship with Bethel athletic pro- grams and provides the school with Reebok gear and sponsors events for the basketball team, which Owusu- Koramoah played on for four years. In the midst of his junior basketball season, Iverson came to watch him play and left impressed. In addition to being a versatile high school athlete on the football field, where he played safety, linebacker, wide receiver and even lined up as a wildcat quarterback, Owusu-Kora- moah was a dynamic competitor on the basketball court. He guarded the other team's best player, was deadly in transition and threw down at least a few rim-rattling tip dunks. "After a Christmas tournament, we had a long conversation, and he said just, 'Keep doing what you're doing, you can be a great player,'" Owusu- Koramoah said of his conversation with Iverson. "It turned my [frame of mind] around … that time was running out, and I needed to get things going." Soon thereafter, several football of- fers rolled in. His offers included Virginia Tech, Char- lotte, Old Dominion, Appalachian State, Clemson, Wake Forest, Virginia and several others. The following fall, he committed to the Cavaliers to play football. But he decommitted in January 2017 and ended up putting pen to paper with Notre Dame on National Signing Day. At one point in time, this was also Iverson's dream. During his junior year, he led Bethel to a state championship in both basketball and football. Creigh- ton Incorminias, the current head football coach at Bethel, was an assis- tant on the 1992 state championship team that Iverson quarterbacked. "Everybody knows how competi- tive he is, but I don't think they real- ize to the extent," Incorminias said. "He didn't like losing at anything. During that time period, we had a lot of guys that were special, that were getting [Division I] looks, but he was a couple of steps above ev- eryone else." So it is no surprise that Iverson thought about pursuing football in college. "He was a far better football player than a basketball player," Moore, Iverson's longtime agent, told Bleacher Report in 2015. "Far, far better. We talked about Notre Dame all the time. That was our dream. We watched the Fighting Irish on TV ev- ery Saturday." TREMENDOUS HEART Junior rover Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah takes after fellow Bethel High School alum and NBA Hall of Famer Allen Iverson "That's where Jeremiah, to me, is on the same level as Allen in football. He's got tremendous heart. He doesn't back down from anyone." BETHEL HIGH MEN'S BASKETBALL HEAD COACH CRAIG BREHON ON COMPARING OWUSU-KORAMOAH TO IVERSON

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Blue and Gold Illustrated - Oct. 26, 2019*