Skip to content

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.

RECRUITING PEDIGREE

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.

EARLY PLAYING TIME OPPORTUNITIES

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.

PROJECTING THE FUTURE

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.

Latest Posts
  1. Eilers joins Irish coaching staff to help fill McCarthy’s void

    Sep 1, 2014, 1:58 AM EDT

    Notre Dame archives Notre Dame archives

    Former Irish and NFL football player Pat Eilers has joined the Irish coaching staff. The member of the 1988 national championship team has been named a defensive quality control assistant for the coaching staff.

  2. The good, bad and ugly: Notre Dame vs. Rice

    Aug 31, 2014, 5:49 PM EDT

    Rice v Notre Dame Getty Images

    Upon second viewing, quarterback Everett Golson’s 2014 debut is just as impressive. The senior quarterback, playing his first game in 600 days, didn’t seem to miss a beat, leading Notre Dame with five total touchdowns on the way to a 48-17 victory over Rice.

  3. Five things we learned: Notre Dame 48, Rice 17

    Aug 30, 2014, 9:48 PM EDT

    Rice v Notre Dame Getty Images

    The last stormy, humid season opener at Notre Dame Stadium found an infamous place in the Irish record books. Saturday afternoon’s 48-17 drubbing of Rice will be remembered in a much better light.

  4. Live Blog — Notre Dame vs. Rice

    Aug 30, 2014, 2:30 PM EDT

    Cam McDaniel Cam McDaniel

    The live blog is back for another season of Notre Dame football. While most of your favorite writers are watching the game and taking notes, I’m here chatting it up with a few thousand of my closest friends. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.

  5. NDonNBC previews the season

    Aug 30, 2014, 11:39 AM EDT

    Oklahoma v Notre Dame Getty Images

    Before we get to the action on the field, the NDonNBC crew spent some time on campus and produced a few cool features to help kickoff the season.

  6. Watch Notre Dame vs. Rice anywhere

    Aug 30, 2014, 12:43 AM EDT

    NBC_Sports_Logo

    Consider this a public service announcement for all of those unable to get in front of a TV this afternoon. If you’re stuck at work or on the road over Labor Day weekend, we’ve got you covered to watch the game.

  7. Irish A-to-Z: Malik Zaire

    Aug 29, 2014, 5:46 PM EDT

    Malik Zaire

    Putting up a better fight for the starting quarterback job than anyone expected, sophomore Malik Zaire reminded many Irish fans that he’s more than just an afterthought in the program. Irish A-to-Z concludes with a look at Notre Dame’s backup quarterback.

  8. Irish A-to-Z: Jhonny Williams

    Aug 29, 2014, 3:45 PM EDT

    Jhonny Williams Signing Day

    Arriving late on the scene during the recruiting cycle, Notre Dame looks like they found a good one in freshman Jhonny Williams. Irish A-to-Z takes a look at the local defensive end, who shows early promise as a pass rusher.

  9. Mailbag: Opening Weekend

    Aug 29, 2014, 2:08 PM EDT

    Brian Kelly Brian Kelly

    Happy Labor Day weekend, everybody. Here’s hoping you’re spending the holiday with friends, family… and some long-awaited college football. Before we get to the game tomorrow, let’s clean out our first regular season mailbag.

  10. Pregame Six Pack: At long last, the season begins

    Aug 29, 2014, 12:34 AM EDT

    Brian Kelly Brian Kelly

    That took long enough, didn’t it? After far too long, football is back. With a preseason camp that the Irish survived mostly healthy, the biggest hits came off the field. As an academic investigation claimed its fifth player Thursday, let’s run through the Pregame Six Pack to get you ready for Saturday’s kickoff.

  11. Irish A-to-Z: Ishaq Williams

    Aug 28, 2014, 7:42 PM EDT

    USC v Notre Dame Getty Images

    The look of Notre Dame’s defensive line changed drastically when senior Ishaq Williams was suspended indefinitely for his role in the academic dishonesty case now pending at the university level. Irish A-to-Z takes a closer look at the one-time five-star recruit.

  12. Academic investigation removes Eilar Hardy from practice

    Aug 28, 2014, 5:46 PM EDT

    USA TODAY Sports USA TODAY Sports

    It appears that Notre Dame’s internal investigation surrounding academic dishonesty charges is nearing a close. But before it gets there, one additional player will be held out of practice and from competition this Saturday.

  13. Meet Kathryn Tappen: NDonNBC’s new sideline reporter

    Aug 28, 2014, 3:55 PM EDT

    kathryn-tappen

    Busy prepping for her debut as NBC’s sideline reporter for Notre Dame football, NBC Sports Group’s Kathryn Tappen was nice enough to catch up with me before the season begins.

  14. Irish A-to-Z: Nic Weishar

    Aug 28, 2014, 1:22 PM EDT

    Nic Weishar

    With Notre Dame on a roll at tight end, freshman Nic Weishar enters “Tight End U” trying to make a name for himself. Irish A-to-Z looks at the Chicagoland tight end.

  15. Irish A-to-Z: Nick Watkins

    Aug 28, 2014, 12:34 PM EDT

    Nick Watkins

    As most hard-core recruiting fans notice Brian VanGorder’s willingness to break the mold when it comes to recruiting, freshman cornerback Nick Watkins looks the part of a perfect prototype. Irish A-to-Z continues with a look at the newest blue-chipper in the secondary.

  16. Kelly: Resolution on academic suspensions coming soon

    Aug 28, 2014, 11:52 AM EDT

    DaVaris Daniels, Ricardo Allen AP

    Brian Kelly appeared on the Dan Patrick show this morning and shed some light on the academic investigation that’s holding out DaVaris Daniels, Kendall Moore, KeiVarae Russell and Ishaq Williams.

  17. Irish A-to-Z: Justin Utupo

    Aug 27, 2014, 8:10 PM EDT

    Utupo AP

    Entering his fifth year in Notre Dame’s football program, grad student Justin Utupo is still looking to find a role in the Irish defense. Irish A-to-Z continues with the reserve defensive lineman.

  18. Irish A-to-Z: John Turner

    Aug 27, 2014, 3:02 PM EDT

    John Turner

    After being buried on the safety depth chart, junior John Turner became one of the talks of spring practice when he moved from forgotten man to a potential starter at outside linebacker. Irish A-to-Z looks at the unlikely outside linebacker.

  19. Opening Day Mailbag: Now Open

    Aug 27, 2014, 12:16 PM EDT

    Mailbag

    The season is finally here. Got questions before the opener? Drop them in the comments or over on Twitter @KeithArnold.

  20. And in that corner… The Rice Owls

    Aug 27, 2014, 12:15 PM EDT

    UTEP v Rice UTEP v Rice

    Notre Dame opens the 2014 season with a visit from Rice on Saturday afternoon. While on paper, a matchup with the Conference USA squad looks like it could be a good way to get the rust off, taking the Owls lightly would be a large mistake. The Houston Chronicle’s Joseph Duarte gets us ready for Rice.