2020 Notre Dame Football Preview

Digital Edition

Blue & Gold Illustrated: 2020 Notre Dame Football Preview

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Page 104 of 163

BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED 2020 FOOTBALL PREVIEW ✦ 103 With a running start, Owusu-Koramoah could get his elbow above the rim. Without one, he could still dunk. Bethel ran lob plays for him as often as it did for Dickens. In a particularly mind-blowing display of athleti- cism, he reached his hand back behind his head while in the air to grab a rebound and dunked with that same hand for a put-back. In 25 years at Bethel, Brehon has coached double-digit high-major college athletes, in- cluding eventual NFL Draft picks Jimmy Wil- liams (second round in 2006, Atlanta Falcons) and Chris Ellis (third round in 2008, Buffalo Bills). He has overseen an undefeated season and reached state title games. Owusu-Kora- moah managed to stand out. "You're not going to outwork him," Brehon said. "You find those athletes maybe once in 20 years as a coach who separates himself from everyone else. "Jeremiah is top five for me of not only skill, but working to get a skill set." 'Pretty Much Identical Things' Meanwhile, Owusu-Koramoah played the rover role for Bethel's football team, called the "joker" spot in coach William Beverley's system. In his first two years, Owusu-Kora- moah had played safety, corner, quarterback and wide receiver. Beverley arrived before Owusu-Koramo- ah's junior year and used him at safety and linebacker. He brought up the joker move before his senior season. Owusu-Koramoah initially resisted. He wanted to play free safety, the position he en- visioned lining up at in college. At this point, he was already accumulating offers — some as a wide receiver, others on defense. "We had to do some convincing," Beverley remembered. Turns out, coaches know some things too. Just like Notre Dame does now, and as Bre- hon did, Beverley tweaked Owusu-Kora- moah's usage to the opponent's tendencies because he was good enough to handle any of them. Athletic specimens are not to be wasted or confined in high school football. Against run-heavy teams, he was more of a middle linebacker, asked to sniff out plans and find the ball. Against passing teams, Bev- erley moved him back to free safety. Wher- ever he played, he announced his presence. "You knew who he was by the end of the game," Saunders said. In one game, against star-studded Indian River High School's option attack, he lined up as an edge rusher. His task was to play the quarterback at the option mesh point. "He ended up causing so much havoc that on half of the pitches the quarterback was so apprehensive because Jeremiah was blowing the play up," Beverley said. For good measure, he added an 80-yard touchdown catch on which he outran top-50 overall recruit Devon Hunter, who plays for Virginia Tech. "You see him now, you see him moving all over depending on the competition," Beverly said. "You'll see pretty much identical things. "If you look at his high school film, it looks like he's at Notre Dame." Not at first, though. Owusu-Koramoah redshirted in 2017 as Notre Dame moved safety Drue Tranquill to rover. Asmar Bilal ascended into the starting role in 2018. Owusu-Koramoah was his backup, but a broken foot that September prevented him from gaining much traction or establishing himself. When Bilal kicked inside to Buck line- backer in the spring of 2019, Owusu-Kora- moah made his own move. By the end of spring practices, he had the edge for a starting job. Fall camp confirmed it. His breakout game was Sept. 21 at Georgia, when he had a team-high eight tackles, with 2.5 for loss. It was his fifth career appearance and third start. Owusu-Koramoah ended the season with 3.0 sacks and a forced fumble in the Camp- ing World Bowl against Iowa State. It looked as if Cyclones quarterback Brock Purdy was a guard who thought he had a free route to the bucket until Owusu-Koramoah appeared and denied him. "You can see his physical ability is real, his suddenness," Kelly said after the bowl. "You have to factor him in when you're game planning." True to his position's name, the challenge for opponents is figuring out where he will come from and how Notre Dame will use him. Prepare for one area or phase where he routinely shows up, and he can still do dam- age in another. Sometimes, even out of nowhere. ✦ Owusu-Koramoah paced the Fighting Irish with 13.5 tackles for loss in 2019, the second-most by a Notre Dame defender since 2006. He also tied for the team lead with 80 total stops and 5.5 sacks. PHOTO COURTESY FIGHTING IRISH MEDIA "You're not going to outwork him. You find those athletes maybe once in 20 years as a coach who separates himself from everyone else." BETHEL HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL COACH CRAIG BREHON ON OWUSU-KORAMOAH

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