May 8, 2014, 1:57 AM EDT
While he spent his first year in the program with a redshirt on, Hunter Bivin is another promising offensive line prospect collected by Harry Hiestand. With the size of an offensive tackle and the ability to play both inside and out, Bivin is part of the next generation of lineman that Brian Kelly has been targeting and collecting at a very successful rate.
The wait to get onto the field might not come to an end in 2014, but Bivin has the physical tools and blend of athleticism and size to challenge for the starting center job once Nick Martin departs.
Let’s take a closer look at the soon-to-be sophomore from Owensboro, Kentucky.
6’5.5″, 291 lbs.
Sophomore, No. 70
Another blue-chip prospect, Bivin was a consensus top 250 player, with 247 ranked him among the elite in the country. A first-team All-Kentucky offensive lineman, Bivin was also an honorable mention selection on the Parade All-American team as well as a USA Under-18 team and Under Armour All-American.
Bivin collected offers from elite programs, with Florida, LSU, Miami, Oklahoma, Michigan and Ohio State giving chase. He committed to Notre Dame early, pledging in March. Bivin was a starter on his high school basketball team that won the Kentucky 3A state title and won a state title in the shot put.
Freshman Season (2013): Did not see game action.
Theoretically, Bivin’s ceiling hasn’t been adjusted since he entered Notre Dame with sky high expectations. But where Bivin plays along the offensive line still seems to be up for grabs. Spring ball isn’t always the best indicator for playing time, especially with the Irish needing additional depth to get two full units. So if Bivin struggled a bit at left tackle then that’s to be expected. He was filling a hole, not necessarily competing for time.
It still appears that Bivin’s best position will be on the interior of the offensive line. That gives him some time before he’s needed to contribute, with development still necessary for the raw but promising athlete.
This is the time of year where finding a way to crack the lineup always seems toughest. But as last season showed us, a depth chart is only as good as its weakest position, and Bivin will likely spend some time playing on special teams before getting a chance to compete for a job at center or guard.
When it’s all said and done, expect Bivin to be the Irish’s next starting center after Nick Martin. That it means he could wait two more seasons to see the starting lineup is a sign that everything went according to plan.
Athletically, Bivin has everything needed to be an elite college football player. And with no time constraints to see the field, Harry Hiestand can continue to mold Bivin to his liking, taking the athlete impressive enough to win state titles in basketball and shot put and turn him into a gifted player.
The battle up front will be one worth watching over the next few years, especially as Christian Lombard and Martin move on. But Bivin looks like the kind of player who has what it takes to win a starting job… even if it’s not right away.