Dec 30, 2010, 11:43 AM EST
Looking for an incoming recruit to get excited about? Try New Mexico’s Matt Hegarty, who Sports Illustrated recently named their High School Player of the Week.
Hailed as the nation’s top offensive lineman, the 6-5, 270-pound tackle has 27 offers spanning from Texas to Harvard, a testament to both his athleticism and intellect. He committed to the Irish back in April and has held strong throughout the season, understanding the process that comes with a coaching transition.
“If you look at a lot of great programs around the country, they didn’t have spectacular seasons with some of the first-year coaches,” Hegarty said back in early November, when the Irish were in the midst of a midseason swoon.
Here’s more from from SI.com’s write up:
His freakish athleticism allows him keep pace with most linebackers and defensive ends, and his textbook footwork has been crucial on passing downs. He didn’t surrender a sack his entire senior year, recording 81 pancakes. He’s widely regarded as one of the top offensive linemen in the nation.
Even with his success, the recruiting process started slowly. He was initially targeted by just New Mexico and Oregon, but drew more attention after a standout performance at the National Underclassmen Combine in Norman, Okla., where he earned offensive line MVP honors.
“It really started rolling after that,” he said.
Hegarty committed to Notre Dame last April, selecting the Irish for the combination of academics and tradition. His presence should immediately upgrade Brian Kelly’s porous line, as the Irish gave up 20 sacks this season. Despite the Irish’s recent struggles (they’ve gone just 23-26 since 2007), Hegarty remains optimistic.
“I think that there was a lot of progression that went on this year, a lot of development in the team,” he said. “I’m excited to see where that program will go.”