Jun 11, 2014, 6:01 PM EDT
Notre Dame expects another road grader on campus next week when incoming freshman Jimmy Byrne arrives for summer session. From St. Ignatius, the Clevelander was a victory over Urban Meyer on the recruiting front, and another solid building block for a unit that’s getting stronger every recruiting cycle.
Let’s take a closer look at what the Irish are getting with Jimmy Byrne.
6’4″, 285 lbs.
Byrne shut down his recruiting early, but the fact that he was choosing between Ohio State and Notre Dame has to have Irish fans feeling okay with his only mid-four-star rating and relatively short offer list. Byrne decided on the Irish nearly 14 months before signing day, an early rock in the recruiting class.
For as positive as the Irish must’ve felt about Byrne early, Kelly was more complimentary as he developed throughout his final prep season.
“I really love the way Jimmy has progressed, especially his senior year,” Kelly said on Signing Day. “We liked Jimmy last year. He was an early offer for us and committed, and then really had a great senior year from our standpoint. Physical, moves his feet well, and again, I think what you’ll see with all of our offensive linemen, they all can get out and move their feet… You’re going to see that there’s an athletic component to all of these guys, and Jimmy certainly fits that, and really excited about him. He’s a great student, great young man, and a great fit for Notre Dame.”
Harry Hiestand out-dueled Ed Warinner for Byrne’s signature. And while he shut down his recruitment relatively early, he had an offer from Michigan State, Illinois, Indiana and West Virginia as well.
It won’t be long before we hear our first whispers about Byrne’s talent, but it seems like the Irish like Byrne as an interior lineman, and they are in no rush to get him on the field. One thing that’s telling is the fact that he was such an early target for the Irish staff, and Byrne is about as pipeline as it gets, coming from St. Ignatius.
From watching some of Byrne’s tape, he’s going to need some time in the weight room. Maybe he put that time in over the past nine months, but there’s a very nice base to build from, as he plays athletically and was well coached at one of Ohio’s better Catholic programs.
It’s really going to be interesting see how the battle for Christian Lombard’s right guard job plays out after this season. Does the job go to a veteran like Conor Hanratty? Or a young riser like John Montelus? After not hearing a world from Colin McGovern, he impressed mightily during spring practice.
Take into consideration that Steve Elmer is a born tackle playing guard out of necessity and the shake out should be fascinating. There’s every reason to believe Byrne could play center if needed, and if he grows he could lengthen into being a tackle. With the depth Hiestand is building, getting on the field is a battle, and making your way into the starting lineup before becoming an upperclassman might not be easy.
Evaluating linemen on high school film isn’t a winning proposition, especially for a guy sitting at a laptop. But the data-points suggest Byrne has the ingredients to be a good one.