Jun 26, 2013, 12:54 PM EST
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.
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.
Mar 5, 2015, 4:44 PM EST
It’s official: Brian Kelly’s new coaching staff won the press conference. Just about universally positive reviews came from Monday’s official announcements, with new coaches Mike Sanford, Autry Denson, Keith Gilmore and Todd Lyght winning the day.
Mar 4, 2015, 2:25 PM EST
As the focus begins to turn to spring football, it appears one very big roster move is taking place along the offensive line. Matt Fortuna of ESPN reports that starting center Matt Hegarty will be leaving Notre Dame and playing his fifth year elsewhere.
Mar 3, 2015, 11:49 AM EST
With Notre Dame just one season into Mike Denbrock’s tenure as offensive coordinator, Brian Kelly didn’t look like he was in the market for a new offensive coordinator. But in Mike Sanford, Kelly (and Denbrock) found a coach worth making room for.
Mar 3, 2015, 11:32 AM EST
In hiring defensive backs coach Todd Lyght, Brian Kelly decided to bring back to the program one of the most talented players of the Lou Holtz era. While his resume may be short as a coach, one listen to Lyght reveals a man whose DNA is football, with coaching taking root after a world-class career.
Mar 3, 2015, 10:49 AM EST
Notre Dame’s all-time leading rusher is now in charge of coaching the position. Autry Denson’s return to South Bend comes at the perfect time, with Brian Kelly looking to find the right coach and personality to replace Tony Alford on the coaching staff.
Mar 3, 2015, 10:20 AM EST
Notre Dame’s new defensive line coach Keith Gilmore was introduced yesterday, a reunion for Gilmore with former boss Brian Kelly and former college teammates Brian VanGorder and Paul Longo.
Mar 2, 2015, 10:52 AM EST
After weeks of speculation, Brian Kelly has announced his coaching staff for the 2015 season. The result is four new assistants, a few new assignments and the homecoming of a handful of former Irish stars.
Mar 1, 2015, 7:47 PM EST
Before Brian Kelly introduces us to his new coaching staff tomorrow, let’s finish the mailbag. More here on what to expect from Mike Sanford, “committing” to the run, and stopping the option.
Feb 28, 2015, 2:48 PM EST
Well crew, I’ve gotta say… I’m a little underwhelmed by the mailbag question. And in the 150+ comments of people screaming at each other about mostly stupid stuff, I think I speak for everybody when I say:
Feb 27, 2015, 12:40 PM EST
Former Notre Dame president Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., died Thursday night on campus. Father Ted was 97. He said his final mass on Thursday, the day he passed away.
Feb 26, 2015, 3:24 PM EST
Gone are Cody Riggs and Austin Collinsworth. Returning is a safety position that’s struggled, another transfer, a young cornerback on the rise, and (hopefully) an exiled potential star.
Welcome to the Notre Dame secondary. New coaching, same scheme, different players, and one of 2015’s great unknowns.
Feb 25, 2015, 2:34 PM EST
As we get a few extra weeks to prep for spring practice, let’s open the mailbag.
Feb 24, 2015, 6:56 PM EST
A position that looked like a huge question mark entering the 2014 season ended the year with an embarrassment of riches. After watching Will Fuller emerge with a record-setting sophomore season, the loss of DaVaris Daniels and departure of TJ Jones didn’t do anything to slow the Irish passing game down.
Feb 24, 2015, 1:34 PM EST
None of Notre Dame’s coaching changes are official yet. But more arrows point to North Carolina defensive line coach Keith Gilmore joining the Irish staff in the same role.
Feb 23, 2015, 12:43 AM EST
There might not be a deeper unit on the roster than the offensive line. After a lack of depth made it nearly impossible to practice at full speed heading into the 2012 BCS title game, Notre Dame enters the 2015 season with a two-deep most teams would pay for.
Feb 20, 2015, 10:48 AM EST
Whether it’s the Siberian Express rolling through most of the country (sorry, guys) or the grand reshuffling taking place on Brian Kelly’s coaching staff, Notre Dame announced a delay in the kickoff of spring practice.
Feb 19, 2015, 11:44 AM EST
After an incredibly impressive run at the position, Notre Dame enters spring practice with nothing but question marks at tight end. After Brian Kelly watched Kyle Rudolph, Tyler Eifert, Troy Niklas and now Ben Koyack churn through his program, he’ll spend spring trying to figure out what exactly he has at the position.
Feb 18, 2015, 11:47 AM EST
On Tuesday, a flurry of reports had Brian Kelly focusing in on the final pieces of his reshuffled coaching staff. They include two likely additions, one transition, and a position shift.
Feb 18, 2015, 11:18 AM EST
A few days after safety Avery Sebastian announced his intentions, Notre Dame made the commitment and graduate transfer of the former Cal safety official. Sebastian will enroll in graduate school and join the team in June.
Feb 17, 2015, 4:12 PM EST
After missing out on a running back in the 2014 recruiting cycle, a once crowded depth chart now only features Tarean Folston and Greg Bryant. Two backs that once worried about having to find snaps will now have all the work they could ever want, with the majority of spring spent doing everything they can to stay healthy.