A buck of a linebacker
Ovie Oghoufo is a 6-foot-3, 207 pound linebacker from Farmington, Mich. He is a three star athlete who committed to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish last July. Oghoufo is an accomplished athlete who will bring a versatility to the Irish defense in the future.
Oghoufo possesses terrific overall athletic skills.
He plays receiver and tight end in half of his highlight footage, suggesting he’s too good of an athlete to take off the field. The Harrison High School student has a long athletic body with a good stride and deceptive speed. Oghoufo is equipped with a frame that should allow him to add 10-20 pounds and not lose any of his agility.
At linebacker, Oghoufo plays with agility and terrific body control. He sets the edge well from the outside linebacker position by attacking the outside shoulder of the offensive lineman. This forces runners to decide whether to keep going wide along the line of scrimmage - which allows defenders time to pursue - or cut back inside into the teeth of the defense.
Oghoufo takes on blocks well by holding his position. He reads through his blocks to follow the track of the ball. This shows Oghoufo plays with his head up and does not run himself out of developing plays. His in-game awareness is a huge plus in how Oghoufo approaches his defensive play and adds to his success.
Oghoufo blends both his mental approach and athleticism frequently. On one particular play, he read the option and forced the quarterback to pitch the ball to his running back. The linebacker then tracked the back down for a loss. Oghoufo showed in this instance that he can make a difficult read by playing with discipline and relying on his natural ability to make a smart play. He tackles well in pursuit and aggressively brings runners to the ground. Oghoufo shows his talents more effectively when blitzing off the corners or in pursuit of the play.
Two plays in Oghufo’s film again show that he knows what’s going on around him even if he can’t hit someone. The linebacker blitzed off the right tackle. Realizing he wouldn’t get to the quarterback, he got his hands up to knock the pass down.
Oghoufo rounds his rush off the edge effectively. He plants his outside foot and gets under the outside shoulder of the lineman. This lets Oghoufo get a solid outside step to reach the pocket on an even trajectory rather that going to far up field and moving past the quarterback. Oghoufo is good in coverage initially off the snap as he will body the receiver and disrupt the route. He shows good technique in his ability to transition from his responsibilities in coverage to check the back and note if he is staying in to block. Oghoufo recognizes that he is now free to rush the passer. When I was coaching, this skill signaled that I had a player who saw the game as if his opponents were playing in slow motion. Oghoufo doesn’t let anything overwhelm him and plays with confidence that he knows what’s going on around him.
Oghoufo doesn’t have elite coverage skills once in the second level. Responds well enough off the first step, but had trouble in space anticipating routes as they developed down field. He held his own when covering backs and tight ends. Receivers coming from the slot or spread wide would get him backpedaling rather than pursuing, which is what he does best.
Oghoufo tends to reach first to tackle in the open field. This mainly occurs when he had to stop and break down to make the tackle. There is nothing unusual about this based off of his skill set, which is that he is a better tackler while moving. Oghoufo likes to play fast and not let the ball come to him. In the coming year and once in college, he will develop better technique for this and will excel.
When putting all the review work into Oghoufo’s film I keep asking myself: Where does he fit in Mike Elko’s scheme? The two outside linebacker spots - buck and rover - are best suited to Oghoufo’s skill set. Buck, in its design for this defense, is a more disruptive position. It’s designed to bring pressure and contain the run. In other words, this position is in need of a guy who can run. Coverage here is more designed for backs out of the backfield and tight ends off the line. Usually coordinators will not leave their buck exposed in wide areas of the field. This requires a pursuing type of athlete who tackles well in motion and can rush off the edge with authority. Sound familiar? Oghoufo looks to be a great fit for this position and a very good addition for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish class of 2018.