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Freshman Focus: Steve Elmer

Jun 26, 2013, 12:54 PM EDT

Louis Nix, Steve Elmer

Steve Elmer was the first commitment to the heralded ’13 recruiting class. He might also be one of the most important. A bookend tackle prospect that closed down his recruitment early and still ended up being viewed among the elite of his class, Elmer anchors an offensive line class that many believe is one of the top units in the country.

In Elmer, it looks as though the Irish have the heir apparent to Zack Martin. Already looking the part of an upperclassmen, the Michigan native and early enrollee wowed the coaching staff in his 15 spring workouts, and his 6-foot-5.5, 317-pound frame looks ready for competition already. Added to Ronnie Stanley, Notre Dame has two young tackles that will likely play a key role in the Irish offensive line for years to come.

Let’s take a closer look at Elmer and what he’ll bring to the Fighting Irish this season.


If you’re underwhelmed by the offer list Elmer had, it’s a product of a very early commitment to Notre Dame, with Elmer shutting down his recruitment in September 2011, a full two years before he’ll suit up for the Irish.

Still, Elmer was seen as a Top 100 player by just about every service, with 247 having him in their Top 50 and Rivals in their top 60. In the middle of the recruiting cycle, it seemed some websites soured on Elmer, with reports coming out from combines that he looked less athletic than many expected during drill work. Those fears were allayed with an impressive US Army All-American week, and Elmer catapulted back up the rankings to the lofty status where he finished.


It’s never a good sign when freshman offensive linemen have an early opportunity to see the field. That said, during spring practice Kelly and the coaching staff felt like Elmer was physically ready to help the team if needed next season.

If needed is the key component here. A quick look at the tackle depth chart shouldn’t exactly give Notre Dame fans the warm and fuzzies. With Tate Nichols ending his career with a medical redshirt, the depth chart is now starters Martin and Lombard, with Stanley the only non-true freshman backing him up.

This is likely the last season where the Irish will truly struggle with depth issues, but the loss of guys like Jordan Prestwood and Nichols really hurt the depth chart. It’s no wonder that Kelly called Zack Martin a six-star recruit.


It looks like Elmer is the starting left tackle of the future. And it also looks like Notre Dame’s fortunes at the position are only on the rise. Adding Elmer and Mike McGlinchey to the current class is a start. Blue-chippers Quenton Nelson and Alex Bars, both seemingly elite prospects, shore up this deficiency quickly (’15 recruit Jerry Tillery seems like icing on a far-too-in-the-distance cake).

Still, pushing the development timetable of any lineman is a dangerous game. As Irish fans saw in 07-09, forcing players into the starting lineup early builds experience, but doesn’t necessarily make things better for the future. The list of blue-chip recruits at Notre Dame who saw the field early and plateaued is long.

That’s not to say that Elmer will suffer the same fate even if he does see the field this season. Many think that Elmer won’t have the opportunity to redshirt even if Martin and Christian Lombard stay healthy, as he’ll be too good to keep off the field. That’s a good problem to have for Kelly and Harry Hiestand, and hopefully one that doesn’t resurface in the near future.

  1. dickasman - Jun 26, 2013 at 1:13 PM

    Who’s the most nasty offensive lineman on the team currently? We need couple of those giant nasty hillbilly sobtches that will drive n pound the d line to the ground and will sit on your helmet and fart on his facemask, possibly kicking the guy along the way while heading back to the huddle. haven’t had one of those since Jeff Faine, Aaron Taylor days.

    • padomer6675 - Jun 26, 2013 at 1:43 PM

      BK heard u n has a couple of the coming in this year n next.

  2. onward2victory - Jun 26, 2013 at 1:38 PM

    That’s an awesome picture with Big Lou dropped back at QB.

  3. rdw71 - Jun 26, 2013 at 2:46 PM

    I find it fascinating that in the space of 20 years or so, we have moved from redshirting being a dirty word at ND to it being considered desirable and almost a necessity, for linemen in particular – even though,, in that same time frame, linemen have gotten bigger (remember when 300 lbs was considered massive?) and had better conditioning even before they get on campus. So what does the future hold? Will any lineman under 300 lbs and under the age of 20 be considered too small and young to succeed in D1? Will any running back under 200 pounds be considered too fragile? I don’t know if it’s good or bad, but it’s a different game than it was 20 years ago.

    • papadec - Jun 26, 2013 at 3:57 PM

      I think the change started back in the 1960’s with a player from Mich State – I forget his name, big & fast defensive player. Maybe bern remembers his name.

      • rdw71 - Jun 26, 2013 at 5:49 PM

        Bubba Smith?

      • papadec - Jun 26, 2013 at 9:52 PM

        rdw71 – Bubba is the one.

    • rdw71 - Jun 26, 2013 at 8:52 PM

      I’m gonna guess it will mean more injuries and shorter careers. Few bodies are made to handle the bigger stresses and impacts, starting earlier in life, and for more games and practices more months of the year.

  4. loadofwash - Jun 26, 2013 at 5:05 PM

    20 yrs ago is what we have been trying to tell you. How about them apples me Irish knuckleheads. Elmer is a game day bandaid not your magical glue (get it?). To the dismay of the manipulated band wagon, the team is too small and slow, as usual, to be anything more than avg. Hip Hip …. Tell me mates, who exactly is the playmaker again? Thought so…. Good luck next century. Over and out.

    • papadec - Jun 26, 2013 at 9:57 PM

      load – over and out? Me thinks the load has thrown in the towel, awwwwww………

    • ndbcs2013 - Jun 26, 2013 at 10:30 PM

      me thinks you a load of Irish wannabe

    • jerseyshorendfan1 - Jun 26, 2013 at 11:06 PM

      That’s it boys……use the “methinks” thing against him. Hoist him upon his own petard!

  5. mediocrebob - Jun 26, 2013 at 9:46 PM

    Load!!! You’ve been M.I.A. bud. Quit flirting with all of us. I already told you that you’re part of the Irish fam. Just embrace it. It was a great decision. Have some confidence “mate” .

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