Four-star defensive end Tashawn Bower's commitment to the Auburn Tigers seems to be in jeopardy, and it's the Notre Dame Fighting Irish that could end up benefiting from the Tigers' potential loss.
This would be an extremely big flip for Brian Kelly and his staff, as Bowers has the intangibles to be very good. Bowers is 6'5'', 241 pounds and runs a 4.80 40 according to 247Sports, and he's the No. 11 strong-side defensive end in the nation according to the 247Sports composite rankings.
He's a very talented recruit, and at least according to Pete Sampson of IrishIllustrated.com, Bower's interest in the Fighting Irish has increased after a visit from defensive coordinator Bob Diaco:
A postseason visit from Bob Diaco included a tutorial on the five-technique within Notre Dame's defense and how the Irish would use Bower, which recaptured his attention. Now the Immaculata standout wants to get back to South Bend next month.
"After hearing the coach kind of explain the five-technique, I just hadn't been able to see that before," Bower said. "Once he explained it, they'd already played their last game at USC at that point, but I'll definitely be watching the national championship game and going off of that."
Notre Dame runs a 3-4 defense, which means Bower would be projected to play the 5-tecnique for them.
What that means is that in their base defense, he'd be lined up in the gap to the outside of the offensive tackle. In the 3-4, defensive ends are used more to take on double teams and plug gaps, which allows the linebackers to make a majority of the plays, but that doesn't mean they can't be productive from a statistical standpoint as well.
That's going to have to be Notre Dame's biggest focus with Bower. They have to let him know that just because his role on defense would be a complimentary one, that doesn't mean he can't still be a star for the Fighting Irish.
Sophomore defensive end Stephon Tuitt had a phenomenal year this season for the Fighting Irish, racking up 40 total tackles, 11 sacks, nine quarterback hurries, one forced fumble and one fumble return for a touchdown according to cfbstats.com
All Notre Dame has to do is point to Tuitt's production as proof that Bower can still shine in the 3-4, and then they can focus on getting him to hit the weight room and bulk up. Sampson's report states that Bower has heard from Notre Dame strength coaches that they can see him at 275 pounds, which is ideal for a 5-tech.
Notre Dame also has an advantage with Bower because of running back Theo Riddick, who graduated from Bower's high school—Immaculata. According to quotes from Bower, via Sampson's report, Riddick has been a great example:
"Absolutely," Bower said. "We're all familiar with Theo, the older guys and alumni definitely. He's brought a lot of attention back to the school and we're definitely excited to see him play, proud of how he's doing, how he's becoming a great leader and a great example."
The Fighting Irish will definitely have an advantage with Bower due to the fact that they can point to Riddick as a player who has had success with their program coming from Immaculata.
Will Bower flip to Notre Dame?
Pipelines are huge in college football recruiting because they establish an automatic connection and comfort level with recruits, so the fact that Riddick went to Bower's school and now he'll be a featured player in the national championship game can only help Notre Dame's case here.
Kelly and the Fighting Irish have to be feeling pretty good about their chances of getting a flip. Auburn is in a rebuilding stage, and meanwhile, they're playing in the national championship.
Bower reportedly has interest in Notre Dame, and if they pitch him on the fact that he can be a productive 3-4 defensive end, they just might be able to get him to flip.