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Notre Dame LB Josh Barajas to transfer to Illinois State


Death, taxes and summer transfers. Perhaps it does not have the same ring to it, but the annual rite of Notre Dame losing a player to transfer between school years is just as consistent as those two other, more imposing deadlines.

Rising junior linebacker Josh Barajas will transfer to Illinois State, a Football Championship Series (FCS) school. By transferring down to the FCS level, Barajas will not need to sit out a year and will have three seasons of eligibility.

While losing a piece of linebacker depth may be less than ideal, Barajas’ departure does bring the Irish roster to the NCAA maximum 85 scholarships.

“We knew a lot about Josh coming out of high school, having played at Andrean High School with [Illinois State junior tight end] Tylor Petkovch,” Redbirds coach Brock Spack said. “He was a very good player coming out of high school and landed at Notre Dame, but felt he needed a new start. We felt he would be a great fit for our system and give us a lot of flexibility at the linebacker position as a possible pass rusher. He can really play in space outside, but he is athletic enough to play inside or outside for us.”

In the spirit of the time of year and the ongoing 99-to-2 series, let’s take a look at Barajas — who was No. 30 — through that prism.

Listed Measurements: 6-foot-2, 239 pounds
2017-18 year, eligibility: Junior with three seasons of eligibility remaining including the 2017 season
Depth Chart: Barajas faced an uphill climb at Notre Dame as an inside linebacker. For this season, seniors Nyles Morgan and Greer Martini have vice grips on the starting spots, and Barajas had fallen behind others attempting to back up the senior stalwarts, including classmate Te’von Coney.
Recruiting: A consensus four-star recruit, rated the U.S. Army All-American as the No. 13 linebacker in the class of 2015 and the No. 2 player in the state of Indiana.

Barajas preserved a year of eligibility in 2015 before appearing in nine games last season. He recorded no other statistics.

The only mention of Barajas this spring came when he missed a few practices toward the end of March due to illness.

“He got ill and had been out for three days, so he took a step back,” Irish coach Brian Kelly said. “The good part of it is we’re teaching fundamentals, so it’s going back to the fundamentals with Josh.

“He’s a great kid, we love him, and he got sick, he got ill.”

Just reading between the lines and looking at the depth chart makes projecting Barajas’ 2016 difficult. At a shade under 6'2", he’s less of a candidate to play as an edge rusher, and position coach Mike Elston said this spring that the current plan is for Barajas to work at middle linebacker behind Nyles Morgan.

Barajas spent some time early in spring sharing reps at Sam linebacker, working behind James Onwualu. But with Greer Martini back this fall, those are two very good players he’ll have to beat out, an unlikely scenario even if Barajas looks like a new man. The Will linebacker spot also looks like a job that Te’von Coney and Asmar Bilal will share, with Martini also capable of playing there if needed.

Can Barajas make an impact this season? Sure. But he’ll have to make even bigger strides this summer and fall than he did in his impressive spring.”

2017’s Notre Dame 99-to-2
Friday at 4: Goodbye A-to-Z, hello 99-to-2 (May 12)
No. 99: Jerry Tillery, defensive tackle
No. 98: Andrew Trumbetti, defensive end
No. 97: Micah Dew-Treadway, defensive tackle
No. 96: Pete Mokwuah, defensive tackle
No. 95 (theoretically): Darnell Ewell, defensive tackle
No. 94 (theoretically): Kurt Hinish, defensive tackle
No. 93: Jay Hayes, defensive end
No. 92 (theoretically): Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, defensive tackle
No. 91: Ade Ogundeji, defensive end
No. 90 (theoretically): Cole Kmet, tight end
No. 89: Brock Wright, tight end
No. 88: Javon McKinley, receiver
No. 87 (theoretically): Jafar Armstrong, receiver
No. 86: Alizé Mack, tight end
No. 85: Tyler Newsome, punter
No. 84 (theoretically): Michael Young, receiver
No. 83: Chase Claypool, receiver
No. 82: Nic Weishar, tight end
No. 81: Miles Boykin, receiver