Jul 17, 2013, 9:07 AM EDT
Adding John Montelus to the ’13 recruiting class was a cherry on top for an offensive line group that was already set to restock the reservoir of big bodies being collected by Brian Kelly and Harry Hiestand. Montelus made it a five man front of freshman, assuring the Irish that they were bringing in a group that essentially could line up and play side by side.
A bruising, physical lineman who didn’t give up a sack in three seasons as an offensive tackle, Montelus will shift inside to guard in South Bend, and projects to be one of the finest recruits in the country.
For as good as Montelus could be on the field, his off-the-field story might even be better, with Montelus blooming from a frustrated kid with a single mom to a leader both on and off the field.
Let’s take a closer look at Montelus:
There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that Montelus is one of the elite guard prospects in the country. (Rivals thinks he is the best guard in the country.) He’s a consensus Top 150 player and Rivals ranks him the No. 74 player in the country.
With offers from Florida, LSU, Michigan, Nebraska and Ohio State, you get the idea that Notre Dame hit it out of the park with Montelus, a native of Everett, Massachusetts, the same town Brian Kelly hails from.
On paper, Montelus is an elite offensive line prospect.
EARLY PLAYING TIME OPPORTUNITIES
With Chris Watt anchored as one of the finest left guards in the country and Conor Hanratty penciled into the starting lineup entering camp, it doesn’t look like Montelus will see the field this season. That said, there’s reason to believe that he can quickly work his way into the mix after his freshman season.
No freshman offensive lineman would play if it were up to this coaching staff. But Montelus has the physicality to get Kelly and his staff exited.
“He will knock you out,” Kelly said on Signing Day. “He gets off the ball, he’s physical at the point of attack.”
Expect the battle along the offensive line in 2014 to be one of the more interesting evolutions. With Zack Martin and Chris Watt departing, and Christian Lombard capable of shifting inside, next spring will be fun to follow.
PROJECTING THE FUTURE
The sky appears to be the limit for Montelus, who hasn’t been playing football for long but clearly takes to things quickly. While he’s not the tallest prospect, he’ll likely continue to add mass and power to his physique, and grow into one of the stronger lineman on the team.
The shift from a two-point stance tackle to in the trenches could be a difficult transition, but there’s no reason to believe that Harry Hiestand can’t make the adjustments with a player that his high school coaches thought was a sponge.
An inspirational story off the field, Montelus is only just now understanding how good he can be. That’s a perfect developmental recruit and someone that will now get five years to be molded by a coaching staff that’s shown the ability to get the most out of its players.