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

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52 PRESEASON 2022 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY MIKE SINGER It's always nice to beat out a recruit- ing rival for a top prospect, but this one is a little extra sweet for Notre Dame. LSU isn't often a program Notre Dame goes head to head with for a prospect, but the Irish beat out the Tigers for Ba- ton Rouge (La.) University Lab class of 2023 linebacker Jaiden Ausberry Aug. 4. After Brian Kelly left his post at Notre Dame to take over the vacant head coach position at LSU, he went from a coach who potentially could get a statue to a figure whom the Irish fans strongly disliked. Ausberry is from Baton Rouge — where LSU is located — which makes the recruiting win sweet, but it goes be- yond that. Ausberry's high school is a part of the LSU system and resides on the Tigers' campus. Not only has Ausberry been to LSU countless times, his father, Verge, was a linebacker for LSU in the early 1990s and currently serves as the Tigers' ex- ecutive deputy director of athletics and executive director of external relations. So, with those factors, it's a pretty strong recruiting win for the Irish. It's also music to the ears of Notre Dame fans that he picked the Irish over Michi- gan as well. It was a long recruiting process be- tween Notre Dame and Ausberry, with then-defensive coordinator and line- backers coach Marcus Freeman extend- ing an offer to the four-star recruit on June 6, 2021. It wouldn't be until March 2022 that Ausberry would get back to South Bend, a visit that put the Irish in a strong position to land him. His official visit in June was a game changer as well, and after previously planning to make a commitment in De- cember, Ausberry moved his timeline up to Aug. 4, resulting in good news for Freeman and Co. "I have a lot of relationships up there, and I've known them for a long time," Ausberry said regarding his commit- ment to the Irish. "It's a family atmo- sphere and fulfilled exactly what I'm looking for on and off the field and after football. They put a lot of people in the league, and Coach Freeman is a good defensive mind. "I know he's going to take care of me up there." Ausberry is the nation's No. 19 line- backer and No. 219 overall player in the land according to On3's ratings. He's the third linebacker in the class, joining Drayk Bowen of Merrillville (Ind.) An- drean and Preston Zinter of Lawrence (Mass.) Catholic Central. "I really felt the love on the official visit with all the commits up there, and I was one of the few uncommitted people," Aus- berry added. "There's such a family at- mosphere. I think we're going to have one of the best classes ever and win a national championship under Coach Freeman." Ausberry played a key role in Univer- sity Lab's undefeated season and Loui- siana Division II state championship in 2021. The Louisiana Football Coaches Association and Louisiana Sports Writ- ers Association both listed Ausberry on their respective first-team defense lists. He is committed to playing in the 2023 Under Armour All-America Game. Pe r At h l e t i c. n e t , Au s b e r ry wa s c l o c ke d r u n n i n g a n 1 1 .67 i n t h e 100-meter race and posted a mark of 20 feet, 2.75 inches in the long jump. ✦ COMMITMENT PROFILE JAIDEN AUSBERRY Fighting Irish Pluck LSU Legacy From Brian Kelly's Backyard Ausberry, the nation's No. 19 linebacker and No. 219 overall player according to On3, picked Notre Dame over LSU, Michigan and others. PHOTO COURTESY ON3.COM FILM ANALYSIS "Jaiden Ausberry is an instinctual, space linebacker who you need on your roster to help defend modern offenses. With his biggest strengths, you have to start with his instincts. He is natural in reading plays, triggers quickly and has been a strong high school player over the past few years for one of the top programs in Louisiana. He registers as a good athlete; he ran a 4.7 40-yard electronic dash time as a sophomore, which is a good time for a younger linebacker. "And I think he's good in coverage; the combination of reading run plays is supplemented well with his ability to drop back in coverage and stick with skill players — running backs coming out of the backfield or tight ends down the seam. I think he has a well-rounded skill set. "He's not super imposing physically; he has a smaller frame. The length is average, but in terms of what he brings he's a high-floor, well-schooled, instinctual linebacker who can cover in space. He helps continue to add that element to Notre Dame's linebacker room. "He's also on the younger side of the spectrum for his class. We could continue to see more physical progression with him, and he also has good bloodlines — his dad was a very good player at LSU." — On3 director of scouting and rankings Charles Power

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