Four-star outside linebacker Ovie Oghoufo spoke with Campus Insiders at Nike’s The Opening and broke down both his performance and his commitment to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
The Fighting Irish were well represented at Nike’s The Opening Regional camp in Chicago on Sunday, and one of the standouts was 4-star outside linebacker Ovie Oghoufo, who was honored as being the top linebacker at the camp.
Oghoufo, the No. 26 outside linebacker in the 2018 recruiting class, has been committed to Notre Dame since July of 2016, and he told Campus Insiders how special it was to be named the best at his position.
“It feels great. There’s a lot of competition out here. Anybody could have won it. There’s a lot of great dudes out here. I’m just happy they chose me,” Oghoufo said. “I think the drills I really shined in were the pass rushing drill and the pass coverage drill. I think I probably could have done a little bit better at my cat-and-mouse drill, but that comes with time.”
The 6-foot-3, 220-pound prospect has the physical build to be an elite edge rusher in a 3-4 scheme, but he looked exceptionally smooth in pass coverage. He felt as though he was ready for every test at the camp — especially dropping back into coverage.
“I feel like I was best prepared for [pass coverage drills] because I’ve done it for so long. It just came down to fundamentals, stay inside your man, swipe at the ball when it’s in the air,” he said. “And as it came to pass rushing, I do that a lot in high school. I’ve just been using everything my D-line coach taught me — use my hands and all of that. I just put it to work out here.”
Oghoufo has a similar build to that of Jaylon Smith, who starred as an outside linebacker for the Irish before being selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the 2016 NFL Draft.
It’s premature to say Oghoufo will be as productive as Smith was for Notre Dame, but the highly-touted recruit feels the Irish will be able to capitalize on his versatility.
“Scheme-wise, I feel like I’m great sideline to sideline. If I need to rush the passer I can, but I can also be mental enough to drop back, read the coverage zones, and I can come up and hit. So, I think I can do it all,” Oghoufo said.
Of course, Brian Kelly’s staff has to make sure to hold onto Oghoufo’s commitment. Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State and Stanford are still vying for his pledge.
“It’s just a matter of them flipping me. That’s what they’re trying to do,” he said. “But I’m still 110 percent [committed].”
It’s not difficult to detect the admiration Oghoufo has for the Irish. He received a lot of attention with his Notre Dame gear at The Opening, from his dark blue Irish shorts and hat to his green Notre Dame hoodie.
Oghoufo is more than a commit for Kelly’s staff. He’s an ambassador of the program’s brand.
“It was just the future, even after the college. Football is great, but the degree, the connections, the relationships, the relationships with the coaches — very prestigious coaches coaching us — it just felt right. When I got up there the first time, I watched the highlight video and said, ‘Oh, this might be it,'” Oghoufo said. “So, it was just — on a serious note — I put what I need in a college aside, and what I want from a college aside. It’s needs and wants. Everybody wants a national championship. Everybody wants to go to the NFL. Everybody wants that, but what do you need from a college? It’s the degree. It’s the relationships. That’s how I chose Notre Dame.”
Linebackers coach Clark Lea has done an excellent job of building a relationship with Oghoufo, who also spoke highly of his bond with Kelly and the rest of the recruiting assistants. The 4-star linebacker illuminated his image of the Notre Dame head coach.
“Coach Kelly is a cool person. I really like Coach Kelly. I just feel like he’s down to earth. Everything about him is cool-headed,” Oghoufo said. “It’s everything, all football, relationship-wise, he shows love for his players.”
And Oghoufo has fully bought into Kelly’s vision for the program.
“Up, national championship,” Oghoufo said simply as to where the Irish are headed.
And he can’t wait to get to South Bend and contribute. Oghoufo plans on enrolling early and working on adjusting to the collegiate game while starting toward his ultimate goal of graduating within three years.