10 things to know: Elite LB Drayk Bowen picks Notre Dame Fighting Irish football
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10 things to know: Elite LB Drayk Bowen picks Notre Dame football

Notre Dame’s first linebacker commit of the 2023 class is in, with Merrillville (Ind.) Andrean linebacker Drayk Bowen pledging to join the Fighting Irish.

Here is a breakdown of what the new addition means for the Irish.

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Notre Dame Fighting Irish football linebacker commitment Drayk Bowen.
Rivals rates Bowen as a four-star talent, the No. 1 prospect in Indiana, and the No. 2 outside linebacker and No. 22 overall player in the 2023 class. (Rivals.com)

1. My personal background in football is on the offensive side of the ball, so it takes a really special football player on defense to get me fired up — and Drayk Bowen is just that. He is a perfect example of a modern-day linebacker with his size, sideline-to-sideline range, big hits and excellent athleticism. There’s good reason that Rivals has Bowen ranked as the nation’s No. 2 outside linebacker and No. 22 overall player in America.

His skill set at the linebacker position is just so unique, and he’s a really good-looking prospect on offense, too. He’s grittiness screams that he can play the Will linebacker spot for the Fighting Irish, but his instincts, explosiveness and agility in space would allow him to play rover. Bowen is the full package and a huge get for the Fighting Irish.

2. Notre Dame was one of the first few schools to offer Bowen back in February of this year. He ended up with right around 30 offers in total. Notre Dame special teams coordinator and lead in-state recruiter Brian Polian initially offered Bowen, and the 6-2, 215-pounder quickly connected well with defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman and defensive director of recruiting Chad Bowden.

The feeling early on was that Notre Dame would be tough to beat for Bowen, but offers from Auburn, Clemson, LSU, Michigan, Oregon, Penn State, Tennessee, Texas and Texas A&M poured in for Bowen.

When the dead period lifted on June 1, Bowen was on Notre Dame’s campus that day and also visited at the end of July. He visited South Bend twice in October; Bowen spent a lot of time with the baseball and football staffs Oct. 2 and experienced the USC-ND rivalry Oct. 23.

It came down to Auburn, Clemson and Notre Dame, and baseball ended up being a big factor. The work done by the Irish baseball and football staffs put Notre Dame in an excellent position to land him, plus the allure of staying close to home was also strong.

3. Bowen will play baseball for Notre Dame, and he’s a versatile player on the diamond. He could play shortstop, third base or in the outfield. Notre Dame has had many notable athletes to play baseball and football over the years, including Cole Kmet, Jeff Samardzija, Torii Hunter Jr., Golden Tate and Evan Sharpley. Notre Dame baseball’s 34-13 record in 2020-21, a season where it reached the Super Regionals, only made Bowen’s decision to pick the Irish easier.

4. With Bowen on the commitment list, the biggest priority at linebacker is Pickerington (Ohio) Central’s Alex “Sonny” Styles, the nation’s No. 1 “athlete” and No. 6 overall player. Styles isn’t sure which position exactly he’d play at Notre Dame, but we feel strongly that rover is his best fit and likely where he’d play.

Styles, who is of course the younger brother of Irish wide receiver Lorenzo Styles Jr., has visited Notre Dame on a number of occasions, including for the Cincinnati game Oct. 2. He spent a lot of time with Bowen during that visit.

“I really like Drayk,” Styles said. “He’s a guy who works hard and you can tell by the way he carries himself how disciplined he is. That’s a guy I’d want to play with.”

There are a number of other notable linebacker targets for the Irish, including Perkasie (Pa.) Pennridge Uppser Sr.’s Phil Picciotti, Pittsburgh Brashear’s Ta’Mere Robinson, and Lawrence (Mass.) Central Catholic’s Preston Zinter.

5. Notre Dame has a strong tradition building of landing in-state players very early in the recruiting process. In the 2020 cycle, Notre Dame didn’t sign anyone from the Hoosier State, but Avon (Ind.) High five-star offensive tackle Blake Fisher committed to the Irish before his junior season in the 2021 class.

Zionsville (Ind.) High offensive lineman Joey Tanona became the Irish’s first 2022 commitment before his junior campaign began. Bowen is another elite prospect who is joining the Irish commitment list early on, as he’s the sixth player to pledge to Notre Dame in the 2023 class.

6. “Bowen is super quick off the edge and a student of the game who will play hard and aggressive until the whistle. He anticipates very well, reads well and seems to be in on just about every singlet tackle. Bowen is a difference-maker at the high school level, and is one of the best players to come out of Northwest Indiana in years.

“It’s very rare to see a guy with his size who also has the kind of speed, quickness, body control and balance that he does. Bowen takes great angles to the ball and is a sure tackler. He also has the kind of lateral mobility college scouts love to see. A very active and tough competitor, Bowen never backs down. He is consistently making tackles on running plays and makes plays in space. Bowen is no doubt a three-down backer with exceptional skills.” — Prep Football Report recruiting analyst Tom Lemming

8. Here is Notre Dame’s 2023 class sorted by commitment timeline:

June 28, 2021 — Four-star DE Keon Keeley, Tampa (Fla.) Berkeley Prep,

June 29, 2021 — Four-star DE Brenan Vernon, Mentor (Ohio) High

Aug. 15, 2021 — Four-star S Adon Shuler, Irvington (N.J.) High

Sept. 1 — Four-star TE Cooper Flanagan, Concord (Calif.) De La Salle

Sept. 22 — Four-star RB Sedrick Irvin Jr., Miami Gulliver Prep

Nov. 3 — Four-star LB Drayk Bowen, Merrillville (Ind.) Andrean

9. Here are Notre Dame’s 2023 commits by position:

0 — Quarterback

1 — Running Back

0 — Wide Receiver

1 — Tight End

0 — Offensive Line

2 — Defensive Line

1 — Linebacker

1 — Defensive Back

10. Here is a breakdown of the Irish commits by state:

1 — California

2 — Florida

1 — Indiana

1 — New Jersey

1 — Ohio

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