Story Poster
Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Football

Excitable Bauer Calm Within

November 27, 2019

He is surrounded by almost 80,000 people, many of them standing, arms waving and throats screaming in thunderous anticipation.

Bo Bauer, scraggly, lumberjack beard stuffed against his face mask, is calm.

Visualizing the moment. Anticipating the kickoff. Preparing to make the tackle.

Nay, anticipating he is going to drop the opposing returner.

At which point, the serenity dwelling inside Notre Dame’s precocious coverage-missile is gone.

“Honestly, I feel at home out there. It’s kind of like a peaceful, tranquil place for me out there when I hear everybody screaming,” said Bauer, the sophomore from Harborcreek, Pennsylvania. “When I’m running down (in kickoff coverage), I expect myself to make the tackle all the time.

“If my teammate makes it, I’m just as excited. But I expect to get to the ball and make the tackle all the time just because it’s the mentality. I want to be the best running down.”

There is little in the way of argument to the contrary of Bauer's stated goal. Appearing in each of Notre Dame’s first 11 games this season, Bauer owns 26 tackles --- a good many of them coming as he taxes all of his 6-feet-2-3/4-inches, 230-pound archetypical Mike linebacker frame for maximum speed at kickoff.

The goal is to reach crescendo with the returner.

The aftermath, especially following a tackle, is synonymous this season with Notre Dame’s other gameday traditions. Like student-section pushups and players slapping the ‘Play Like A Champion’ sign as they make their way to the field inside Notre Dame Stadium, Bauer now is part player, part atmospheric presence.

His teammates, not to mention fans, and yes, media, now expect Bauer to be in the end zone, urging the crowd’s investment into the Irish cause.

“Bo gives us energy. Bo, he’s like the spark of a fire, and when he makes a play, everybody jumps up,” said sophomore wideout Lawrence Keys III. “It gets everybody going.

“It’s like he sets the tone of the game, and once he sets the tone, comes off the field and gets the crowd going, then offense takes on the field or defense takes on the field, it’s just energy.”

Harnessing that energy is key in the development of Bauer, a player who admits he studies kickoff-coverage film like a quarterback dials in on defensive tendencies.

He credits being in better physical shape; powering through the natural fatigue that, as a freshman a year ago, is commonplace for many players making the leap from high school ball to a preeminent college program.

Likewise, Bauer points to mental development with coaches, teammates and renowned sports psychologist Dr. Amanda Selking, whose ‘Building Championship Mindsets’ program is a resource for the Irish.

“I mean, I try to stay cool in the moments of focus and concentration,” Bauer said. “I’ve worked on that with Dr. Selking.”

He’s also not afraid to tap into the wisdom of another former Notre Dame player whose career track traces from special teams contributor to stalwart linebacker on the Irish’s 2018 College Football Playoff squad.

“My guy was Drue Tranquill, because I was behind (Te’von Coney) last year,” Bauer said. “’Tranq’ was a really good role model, and he said, ‘You’ve got to do what you do in the moment. You can’t focus on long-term goals; you’ve gotta focus on the journey right now.’

“I love the grind of the season and love the preparation each week, just to get ready for those moments.”

subscribe Verify your student status
See Subscription Benefits
Trial only available to users who have never subscribed or participated in a previous trial.