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Irish A-to-Z: Quenton Nelson

Jul 31, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT

Quenton Nelson

Rumblings over the summer have only confirmed what many suspected from the moment he committed to Notre Dame: Quenton Nelson expects to play in 2014.

The five-star recruit has only been on campus since June, but Nelson has already done enough to start a whisper campaign that Nelson might be the next big thing to crack the lineup early.

That’s quite an achievement, especially considering the depth chart returning. But Nelson’s no ordinary freshman, as we saw with his weight room exploits and ready-to-contribute physicality.

We’ll see where Nelson’s at come next week, and if the summer love was one last burst of internet hype or the sign of big things to come. Either way, it looks like the Irish have another big, strong and tough offensive lineman that expects to see the field sooner than later.

Irish A-to-Z continues with a look at Nelson.

6’5″ 302 lbs.
Freshman, No. 56



Nelson earned a coveted fifth star as a recruit, was a Top 30 player and one of the top offensive tackles in the recruiting class. The New Jersey native was a U.S. Army All-American (and a bunch of other accolades, too), committing to Notre Dame in May and never wavering throughout his recruitment.

Offers from Alabama, Miami, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Stanford among others didn’t seem to interest Nelson, who also showed some of his personality in his recruiting video. On tape, that humor doesn’t come across, with Nelson interested in burying the opponent across from him, something Brian Kelly noticed immediately.

“I think the one thing that stands out about Q is that here’s a guy that just is relentless. He’s going to come after you play after play after play,” Kelly said on Signing Day. “One of the best players in the country at his position, but… he’s a guy that is so focused on what he needs to work on, that’s what we loved about him.  He wasn’t looking at his star rating, he was looking at the things that he needed to work on, and that’s all we needed to see from Quenton.”



Nelson might not have the length that you see from an incoming recruit like Alex Bars, but there’s zero chance you can look at his tape and not see a really good football player. Nelson absolutely dominates his competition, and did so during the postseason All-Star circuit as well.

Pete Sampson at Irish Illustrated dropped a few hints in a premium post behind a paywall that said Nelson has been so impressive this summer that he’s immediately thrown himself into the conversation at guard. That either means he’s playing over Christian Lombard (which is doubtful), or it’ll allow Elmer to play right tackle and Nelson to take Elmer’s spot at left guard, with the odd man out being Mike McGlinchey.

Those conversations can’t happen if Nelson isn’t the real deal, and if he’s capable of fighting his way onto the field, that’s only going to make things better up front for the Irish. Even if he doesn’t crack the lineup early, getting onto the field now — especially considering the talent Hiestand and Kelly have brought in the past few years — should have Irish fans excited about the potential Nelson brings with him to South Bend, playing up to the five-star rating and a future star in the making.



This might not be a popular opinion, but consider me among the few people that don’t want to see Nelson on the field in 2014. Using a year of eligibility, especially when the depth chart looks solid with the current projected starting five, would cheat Notre Dame’s staff out of four full seasons of Nelson, likely played at a very elite level.

Save the year and Nelson enters the spring with the inside track in a crowded group fighting for Lombard’s job, and ready to shift outside to tackle when a job opens up.

Of course, a lot of that depends on how well McGlinchey plays. Or Elmer for that matter. Right now, Ronnie Stanley and Nick Martin feel like the only true “locks” on the line, with Lombard and Elmer likely right behind. Kelly isn’t going to save a year of playing time if he feels like Nelson can help the Irish win now, even if it’ll mean a few bumps along the road as a freshman learning on the job.

Again, the biggest question is how Hiestand keeps all these linemen competitive, happy and productive. And after just six weeks of summer workouts, it looks like the Irish have another star in the making in Quenton Nelson.



The Irish A-to-Z
Josh Atkinson
Nicky Baratti
Alex Bars
Hunter Bivin
Grant Blankenship
Jonathan Bonner
Justin Brent
Kyle Brindza
Chris Brown
Jalen Brown
Greg Bryant
Devin Butler
Jimmy Byrne
Daniel Cage
Amir Carlisle
Austin Collinsworth
Ben Councell
Scott Daly
Sheldon Day
Michael Deeb
Steve Elmer
Matthias Farley
Tarean Folston
Everett Golson
Jarrett Grace
Conor Hanratty
Eilar Hardy
Mark Harrell
Jay Hayes
Matt Hegarty
Mike Heuerman
Kolin Hill
Corey Holmes
Chase Hounshell
Torii Hunter Jr.
Jarron Jones
DeShone Kizer
Ben Koyack
Christian Lombard
Tyler Luatua
Cole Luke
Nick Martin
Greer Martini
Jacob Matuska
Cam McDaniel
Mike McGlinchey
Colin McGovern
Pete Mokwuah
John Montelus
Kendall Moore
Nyles Morgan
Sam Mustipher

  1. johngaltisspeaking - Jul 31, 2014 at 10:21 AM

    All I can picture when I watch Nelson workout is the tide owning Nix in the Championship game and watching Lacey literally run over Manti Te’o. Man that was embarrassing ! Having said that SEC TALENT with MAC COACH.

    • irishinmich - Jul 31, 2014 at 11:19 AM

      All you can picture is the tide, 24/7. It takes an SEC TROLL to recognize SEC TALENT.

    • mediocrebob - Jul 31, 2014 at 1:24 PM

      Do you have a job? You spend a lot of time on here. Parole Tide!

  2. mattymill - Jul 31, 2014 at 10:27 AM

    I’m not sure enough has been said about ND’s O-line depth. What an amazing group of big boys up front. Which means if Q truly pushes for a starting job anytime this year, that is impressive. I think the stat that is most overlooked from last year is that they only allowed 8 sacks, and that was with a statue at QB. Sure, they lose a 1st rounder in Z Martin but the drop to Stanley is not drastic. My wish for this year is that they turn the fatties loose and avg about 250 yds on the ground — and hopefully that avg is not simply 350 yds against Rice / Purdue and then 150 yds against real defenses like FSU / Stanford. There’s no reason ND can’t go for 200 on the ground against a quality D. Go Irish!

    • johngaltisspeaking - Jul 31, 2014 at 10:49 AM

      Our biggest problem is our defense.. I am not sold on Van Gorders plan for attack.You can’t compare Mustache mans productivity at Georgia using PURE SEC PLAYERS with that of Notre Dame. Van Gorder had massive talent during those years at Georgia. YES many five star players to be exact. And if History proves anything ND’s best teams where all Bend/ Break Diaco style defenses. The defense move is either going to be surprisingly successful or a complete failure. If this defense can’t stop Rice from scoring we could be in store for one super embarrassing year.

      • atlirish1013 - Jul 31, 2014 at 12:08 PM

        You’re right! You shouldn’t look at the Georgia game tape to know what BVG is capable of. You should look at the Atlanta Falcons tape. As a resident of Atlanta, I got to watch BVG take a defense with mediocre (at best) talent and consistently have them in the top 10 in scoring defense in the NFL every year for the four years he was here. I hate to say it, but from a schematic standpoint, BVG is going to be a better DC than Diaco and this defense is going to benefit as a result.

      • Keith Arnold - Jul 31, 2014 at 12:09 PM

        Amazing that you aren’t sold on a defense that you haven’t seen yet.

        And having spent about 10 hours searching through and looking at BVG’s Georgia defenses, the talent at ND isn’t much different from the talent at UGA then.

      • papadec - Jul 31, 2014 at 12:25 PM

        Boring – same old broken jg record – if there isn’t anything to insult the individual player about – then attack all or part of the coaching staff. snore……….

      • johngaltisspeaking - Jul 31, 2014 at 1:54 PM

        Keith you even said it in your Bleacher Report Article. Georgia was Stacked we have nowhere near that talent right now on the team.

      • ottojespersenakahans - Jul 31, 2014 at 4:01 PM

        You certainly are among one of the most uninformed people I’ve come across in the information age.
        Van Gorders “sec talent” starting from employment date.
        2001- 10- 2star recruits, 6 3star recruits, 6- 4star, 2- 5star.
        2002- # 3 in the nation, 8- 3star, 18- 4star, 1- 5star.
        2003- #6 in the nation, 13- 3star, 8- 4star, 2- 5star.
        2004-#9 in the nation, 8- 3star, 11- 4star, 1- 5star.

        Of the 5 star talent, 2 DE, 1 CB, 1 LB.
        Grand totals,10- 2 star, 45- 3 star, 43- 4 star, 6- 5 star.
        Avrg yearly, 2.5- 2 star, 11.25 3 star, 10.75 4 star, 1.25 5 star
        This is a solid set of recruiting.

        Van Gorders Current Irish team dating back 4 years.
        2011- #10 in the nation 2- 5 star, 8- 4 star, 12- 3 star
        2012- #20 in the nation, 1- 5 star, 8- 4 star, 7- 3 star
        2013-#3 in the nation, 3 5 star, 14- 4star, 6- 3 star
        2014 #11 in the nation, 1 5 star, 10 4star, 12- 3star.

        Grand Totals- 7- 5star, 40- 4star, 37- 3star.
        Average yearly- 1.75 5 star, 10 4 star, 9.25 3 star.
        Of the 5 star talent 1 LB, 1 DB, 2 DEs.

        I’m afraid there’s not much of a discrepancy here, with the exception of our lack of 10- 2star recruits. “many 5 star players to be exact” Many isn’t exact there bud. 6 total with 5 on the defensive side. We’ve had 7 total with 4 on the defensive side.

        Johngalt, facts, facts, johngalt. I suggest you use them instead of just typing “PURE SEC BULL*&^T” and expecting everyone to be impressed. If you’re going to spew vitriol at least have some facts to back it up.

      • johngaltisspeaking - Jul 31, 2014 at 10:16 PM

        Read this article by Keith and tell me I am wrong:

      • mediocrebob - Aug 1, 2014 at 8:24 AM

        You’re wrong

      • johngaltisspeaking - Aug 1, 2014 at 10:25 AM

        We already know its a fact that the best talent comes from the SEC. We recruit very few SEC players, most of them come from the midwest which now produce some of the lowest numbers of linemen anywhere in the USA. Van Gorder was successful in big part due to the fact he had top talent. We don’t have Tuitt, Nix or Shembo and our Defensive recruiting has already dropped off. Georgia reloads year after year with SEC 4 and 5 star top dawgs.

        Forget it you guys will see for yourself. Nobody can beat the SEC. The SEC is all or nothing football. They dont mess around !

      • johngaltisspeaking - Aug 1, 2014 at 1:51 PM

        You are a complete fool… Look at the players we have lost over the years:





        With all of the losses we are lucky to be recruiting in the 15 to 20 range.

    • ibleedirish - Jul 31, 2014 at 12:55 PM

      I’ll call them encouraging for now. Let’s save “amazing” for when they show they can consistently move a good defensive line back off of the lone of scrimmage.

      • ibleedirish - Jul 31, 2014 at 1:01 PM


  3. andy44teg - Jul 31, 2014 at 11:04 AM

    My jaw hit the floor watching that workout video. Holy crap! I guess I can quit bragging I put up 225 eight times when I was a freshman in college….sheesh!

  4. 4horsemenrideagain - Jul 31, 2014 at 11:15 AM

    I just want to hear the commentators using phrases like “pounding the ball,” “imposing their will,” and “the defense knows what’s coming and still can’t stop it!” all season long.

    I want to see games where the RB(s0 are averaging 6 yards per carry and opposing DB(s) can’t help but peek in the backfield and end up getting left in the dust cloud on play action passes.

    I want to beat UM by three scores and leave them with that taste in their mouth as the series ends and I want Michigan State’s vaunted defense to get humiliated and have cleat marks on their chests after the game.

    I want games where Bryant and Folston both go over 125 yards leaving sportswriters and us clever-minded fans arguing over the best nickname for the duo; “thunder and lightening” “meat and potatoes” “slash and burn” “butch and sundance” “the sound and the fury” “smith & Wesson” or “shock and awe.”

    I want the dominance displayed in Stanford game to wipe the smug grin off David Shaw’s face and for the a$$clowns in Coliseum to be streaming for the exits as the fourth quarter starts of the USC game.

    That’s all I want. Nothing more.

    Well, a close game in Tallahassee would be nice too.

    • sjb198 - Jul 31, 2014 at 12:09 PM

      I agree, except for one nit to pick. We don’t play MSU this year. Unless you’re talking playoffs.

      • 4horsemenrideagain - Jul 31, 2014 at 12:52 PM

        whoa. I goofed on that one. well I hope we stomp them next time then.

    • domerboyirish - Jul 31, 2014 at 12:42 PM

      other than the Michigan State snafu I totally agree with everything else. also I would prefer to see the USC fans leave at halftime and simply never return.. I don’t want them in the game starting the 4th quarter. let’s just get up by 35 points at halftime and call it a day.

      • 1historian - Aug 1, 2014 at 12:16 PM

        careful what you wish for – I remember when we were 17 ahead @ halftime in 1964 and there was the 55-24 nightmare in the year that I have thankfully forgotten.

        ND was up 24-zip at the half and lost 55-24. Not a good day for us. What year was that? Can’t remember.

        (It might have been 24-7 or so but we were up at the half and they ran back a kickoff to start the 2nd half and it was a nightmare after that)

        There is of course 1966 – I was listening to the game on a shortwave radio in the mideast while on the midwatch. ND up 31 – 0 at the half, final score 51-0, National Champs. Legebd has it that the S.C. Coach said after that game – “I’ll never lose to that Armnenian basta.d (Parseghian) again!

        He didn’t. He showed up the next year at N.D. with O.J. Simpson.

    • alsatiannd - Jul 31, 2014 at 1:15 PM

      You forgot the pony.

      • 4horsemenrideagain - Jul 31, 2014 at 1:34 PM

        that’s on birthday list.

    • johngaltisspeaking - Jul 31, 2014 at 1:43 PM

      If he says a work in progress its time for him to pack his bags.

  5. domerboyirish - Jul 31, 2014 at 11:19 AM

    “ESPN – Florida State receiver Jesus Wilson pleads no contest to two misdemeanors for role in scooter theft”

    where do I start with this one? if everyone at FSU is so fast why does he need a scooter?

    how can someone named Jesus be a thief?

    per the school handbook that is at MOST a first quarter suspension.

    there might be more kind convicts on The FSU team than Burt Reynolds had in the movie The Longest Yard.

    • dwp1991 - Jul 31, 2014 at 12:03 PM

      Pretty funny considering Burt Reynolds played football at FSU for a time

      • domerboyirish - Jul 31, 2014 at 12:44 PM

        nice! I can’t believe I missed that one.

    • sjb198 - Jul 31, 2014 at 12:04 PM

      Hey John, looks like FSU has some of your beloved SEC talent.

      • johngaltisspeaking - Jul 31, 2014 at 1:56 PM

        Hey I don’t like it as much as you do but even with the arrests the SEC is top dawg…

    • 4horsemenrideagain - Jul 31, 2014 at 1:02 PM

      here’s another funny one; the ESPN headline that a police officer drew his weapon on Winston as Winston was “squirrel hunting.”

      the actual story is that Winston and another idiot were on campus shooting at squirrels with a pellet gun and the officer responding to the call drew on them until realizing the gun was only a pellet gun. even better, later in the day (apparently not having learned their lesson) these two upstanding gents were playing “army” around their apartment complex with BB guns, causing over 4K in damage to the place, but in the end (wait for it) the manager decided not the press charges.

      i’m not sure which is more laughable, that these guys had nothing better to do than spend the day shooting BB/pellet guns at squirrels and one another, or that ESPN’s hook was that “Squirrel-hunting Winston held at gunpoint in ’12”

      • mcirish27 - Jul 31, 2014 at 3:27 PM

        Begs the question, why did Jameis Winston live in an off campus apartment in 2012 (as a true freshman)??

      • 4horsemenrideagain - Aug 1, 2014 at 9:40 AM

        probably so he could have a BB gun. they’re prohibited in dorms.

    • jerseyshorendfan1 - Jul 31, 2014 at 6:18 PM

      Ha! What would Jesus do? Well, apparently steal a scooter for himself.

      • papadec - Jul 31, 2014 at 8:10 PM

        Didn’t Jesus send a disciple into town to get a donkey, or burro, or something like that, for Palm Sunday? Isn’t this just a modern day answer to the question – What would Jesus do? Looks like donkeys & burros are scarce – but there are plenty of jackasses & scooters on campus.

  6. nudeman - Jul 31, 2014 at 11:23 AM

    Kelly presser tomorrow

    One thing I don’t want to hear: “We’re a little disappointed. Thought Tarean would show up in better shape”

    One thing I KNOW we’ll hear: “The light has gone on for Ishaq; we’re really looking for him to make a couple plays this year”. (and that will no doubt be a self fulfilling wish; he will make exactly a couple plays this year)

    Another thing I don’t want to hear: “BVG loves Matthew; we don’t see anyone beating him out”

    Another: “Max has got to be better at understanding the coverage schemes”

    And another: “Tommy will be joining us as a grad asst”

    And one more: “Everett now knows about 1/3 of the playbook”

    Whatever …

    • andy44teg - Jul 31, 2014 at 12:28 PM

      For Ishaq…if he makes a couple plays this year that will be exactly a couple more plays he’s made in his entire ND career.
      One thing I don’t want to hear is “Joe Schmidt is really solidifying his role as a starter.” I know he’s a great story and all…but it doesn’t bode well for the other Linebackers who couldn’t beat him out that were actually recruited.

    • 4horsemenrideagain - Jul 31, 2014 at 1:10 PM

      come on nude, don’t you have just a little, tiny bit of faith that with his new role in BVG’s system (which doesn’t involve dropping in coverage) #11 is going to do some good things?

      I won’t discount the earlier criticism of him being too blasé, disinterested, uninvolved and under-achieving because so far he hasn’t done enough to dispel that. but this is the pre-season, with all of its unbridled optimism and (possibly) misplaced hope, so just allow yourself a brief daydream about how with the NFL draft looming, with a new position/new responsibilities, and the fresh start of a new coordinator (not to mention new field turf), the light will go off in his head.

      • nudeman - Jul 31, 2014 at 2:43 PM

        I suppose I COULD try to be positive about Ishaq. In fact …. I WILL try,

        RIGHT NOW.

        UPDATE: Didn’t work

        Will finish the season with 7 tackles, 1 sack where the Navy QB runs into him by mistake and no passes broken up.

        And you know what? He’ll get drafted, because he’ll kill it at the Combine and NFLers will see a chiseled body and good speed and think “Wow, if the light ever goes on for this guy …”

    • ibleedirish - Jul 31, 2014 at 1:34 PM

      Re: your comment about Everett, I don’t want to hear about ANYONE needing more knowledge of schemes, plays, etc. No more “unconscious competence” BS. Don’t get me wrong, I think BK is the right man for an almost impossible job. But I’m tired of hearing that kids who are smart enough for Notre Dame (on average), can’t understand what to do on a football field. I’m sorry, you just don’t hear that line out of other schools, some of whom have kids that wouldn’t get into ANY school, were it not for football. Run, block, tackle, catch, throw, destroy somebody! These are not high level concepts. Go play football! I’m hoping that’s some of what BVG is bringing with him.

      I also want to hear (and I know we won’t) that if Ishaq continues to look like he’d prefer to be anywhere else than the field, he’ll get his wish. Let any of the hungry sophomores or freshman get a crack at injuring (cleanly) the other teams QB.

      God I’m ready for some football!

      • 1historian - Aug 1, 2014 at 12:20 PM

        28 and a wakeup!!

  7. tony34343434 - Jul 31, 2014 at 11:24 AM

    i disagree with Keith. If this guy is as good as advertised he is an NFL prospect. Almost all are leaving early so use him while you have him. Let him get playing experience. GO Irish!!!

  8. newmexicoirish - Jul 31, 2014 at 11:51 AM

    Precious few incoming freshmen are ready for a starting college position IMO. As highly touted as Manti Teo was coming in, he was pretty lost as a freshmen. Jaylon Smith had an excellent year as a freshman, but I think we’re all going to see an enormous difference in his play in the next few years.
    Five years to complete four is a gift from the gods and should be used every chance available. There is so much to be gained by redshirting freshmen and in our case we already have excellent depth along the offensive line, so starting a freshman isn’t a critical need. We have the luxury of allowing the puppies to grow both physically and mentally before they hit the field. More importantly, I believe the redshirt allows the freshmen to acclimate to college life, which is particularly important at a school like Notre Dame. So I say redshirt them all if you can!

    Go Irish!

  9. johngaltisspeaking - Jul 31, 2014 at 11:56 AM

    Jaylon is the only true NFL talent out on the field. He made plays like crazy last year. Golson is good but Not great. Zaire will be ready game 1 as Brian k starts pulling out Golson. Everett!!

  10. alsatiannd - Jul 31, 2014 at 1:10 PM

    If he’s as good as they say, you can’t count on him hanging around for a 5th year. So not playing him now in order to save a future playing year might be pointless. He graduates in 4 and moves to the draft. The strategy of not playing a Frosh in order to save a year only makes sense if the talent is in the margins somewhere. It boils down to always play the best player and don’t try to crystal ball things 3 years away.

    • jerseyshorendfan1 - Jul 31, 2014 at 6:24 PM

      Agree completely. Love to see him out there as a Frosh. But I’m biased, we went to the same high school. “RBC, hats off to thee.”

      • 4horsemenrideagain - Aug 1, 2014 at 9:43 AM

        what year did you graduate? I live in the area and know some guys that went to RBC

      • jerseyshorendfan1 - Aug 1, 2014 at 12:24 PM


  11. bernhtp - Jul 31, 2014 at 3:52 PM

    If Nelson beats everyone out, I would like to see McGlinchey line up as TE and have a super-jumbo set to work with. Mike can catch the ball too.

    • nd1975fla - Jul 31, 2014 at 4:39 PM

      We are dangerously thin at TE now. If the O-line is as deep as it sounds, switching McGlinchey to TE might be a giant of a solution. A similar switch worked out pretty well for a guy named Casper a few years ago- well, maybe about 40 years ago.

    • domerboyirish - Aug 1, 2014 at 9:03 AM

      there is nothing saying that a TE has to be a ball catcher. imagine our goal line package with 7 or 8 of these guys out there! holy crap!

      • 4horsemenrideagain - Aug 1, 2014 at 9:46 AM


        nothing says that a TE has to catch the ball, but the word is McGlinchey can catch it, in addition to having good feet and even being able to throw it! imagine that, a 300 lb TE throwing a TD pass. I bet Knute would get a kick out of that.

        I love the idea of that sort of jumbo set. everyone in the stands knows exactly what’s coming and the defense can’t do anything about it.

      • 1historian - Aug 1, 2014 at 12:25 PM

        I’m a Patriots’ fan and way back when the Pats had that guy from Ohio State whose name I forget playing LB they also used him at TE in goal line situations and there used to be jokes about Tom Brady from Michigan throwing TD passes – 4 or 5 if I remember correctly – to a guy from OSU.

      • 4horsemenrideagain - Aug 6, 2014 at 1:52 PM


        I think that’s who you’re talking about. I bet all those rings on Vrabel’s fingers made up for any lingering resentment he had about Brady being a Michigan man, along with Vrabel making fun of Brady for barely beating out Drew Henson for the starting job.

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