Blue and Gold Illustrated

January 2021

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

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Page 16 of 47 JANUARY 2021 17 cruits do: on the scout team. There, he played all over on defense. One week he'd line up at end, at 6-1 and 200 pounds, and come off the edge against left tackle Mike McGlinchey. The following week, he'd play mid- dle linebacker and attempt to shed a block from left guard Quenton Nel- son. Both linemen were selected in the top 10 of the 2018 NFL Draft. As a sophomore in 2018, Owusu- Koramoah began the season as the backup rover behind senior Asmar Bilal, but broke his foot during a Sep- tember practice and was lost for the remainder of the year. In his first two collegiate seasons, he hadn't played a single snap. "It was an opportunity where I got to learn," Owusu-Koramoah said. "I would say that process was needed. It was a beautiful process. 'There's beauty in the struggle,' as [rapper] J. Cole says. I loved it, honestly. I wouldn't have it any other way." BECOMING THE BEST In fall camp of 2019, he earned a starting spot and immediately be- came one of the most electric defend- ers on the team. From there, his pro- gression as a junior played out in front of audiences as he led or was tied for the team lead in tackles (80), tackles for loss (13.5) and sacks (5.5). Now, as his senior year comes to a close, he's considered the team's best player and a promoter of positive vibes on the field. "He really just has this aura that beams off of him," said senior de- fensive tackle Myron Tagovailoa- Amosa. "When you're around him, you just want to jump in and you're just energized by his presence be- cause of the way he flies around to the ball, the way he [displays] leader- ship on the field." He also draws from his experiences on the scout team as a freshman and his broken foot as a sophomore. Owusu-Koramoah knows both trials allowed him to be a more relatable and effective leader, especially when showered with praise and awards. But he also believes that, no matter how valuable his past experiences are, such charisma can't be taught. "Take a look at nature," Owusu- Koramoah explained. "You have a lion. A lion's not the biggest, not the fastest, not the tallest, but what makes him the king of his kingdom is his attitude, and that attitude was instilled in him at birth." After the season, Owusu-Kora- moah projects as a top-10 prospect in the 2021 NFL Draft, per ESPN ana- lyst Mel Kiper Jr. Even with a year of eligibility remaining, this almost cer- tainly indicates that his Notre Dame career is about to end. The soon-to-be millionaire will leave South Bend as one of the most decorated and elec- tric defenders in program history. And to think, it all happened be- cause Kelly had the foresight to an- swer his cell phone four years ago in the midst of a National Signing Day press conference. ✦ Owusu-Koramoah, a former three-star recruit, became the third Notre Dame player in the last nine years to be named the Butkus Award winner (the nation's top linebacker). PHOTO BY JOSEPH SISSON/COURTESY KEN WARD PHOTOGRAPHY

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