Liam Eichenberg 247
Irish 247 / Tom Loy

Irish A-to-Z: Liam Eichenberg

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In freshman tackle Liam Eichenberg, Notre Dame has what looks like a future cornerstone on the offensive line. Now he’ll need to develop into the front-line player many hope he’ll become.

The good news? Harry Hiestand is on the case. Few offensive line coaches in college football do a better job of sculpting linemen, and in Eichenberg, the veteran Irish assistant has quite a piece of clay.

With Mike McGlinchey and Alex Bars slotted into the starting lineup heading into camp, Eichenberg will likely spend 2016 watching, learning, eating and lifting weights. But with the NFL beckoning for McGlinchey and the depth chart at tackle thin, there’s not much time to waste.

 

LIAM EICHENBERG
6’6″, 285 lbs.
Freshman, OL

 

RECRUITING PROFILE

Four-star, Top 100 recruit. Under Armour All-American. Max Preps first-team All-American. All-State Ohio first-team.

Eichenberg was one of the most sought after offensive tackle prospects in the country and he chose Notre Dame over Ohio State, Michigan, Florida State, Miami and a few dozen others.

 

FUTURE POTENTIAL

While Tommy Kraemer might be a better near-term prospect, there’s a “sky-is-the-limit” feel to Eichenberg after talking to people around the program. So while it’ll likely be Kraemer earning training camp praise from Kelly as the battle at right guard adds a new contender, giving Eichenberg the year to develop behind Mike McGlinchey and Alex Bars will be ideal.

That being said, there should be some urgency to this season for Eichenberg. Because it’ll take minutes for the college football world to notice how good of an NFL prospect McGlinchey is and a fifth-year might not be necessary for the Philadelphia native. And with little depth on the outside, an injury could change Eichenberg’s playing trajectory before a spring practice where he could be in the middle of a battle for playing time.

 

CRYSTAL BALL

A redshirt for Eichenberg.

Then a spring where he could be in a battle to replace Notre Dame’s next first-round left tackle. (It’s too early to predict if McGlinchey is heading to the NFL, but he certainly will have all eyes on him.)

Regardless, it’s a critically important season for Eichenberg on the practice field and in the weight room. Because there’s every reason to believe that the Irish will be reloading on the offensive line this recruiting cycle, and there’s be competition in the ranks from the moment he steps on campus.

2016’s Irish A-to-Z
Josh Adams
Josh Barajas
Alex Bars
Asmar Bilal
Hunter Bivin
Grant Blankenship
Jonathan Bonner
Ian Book
Parker Boudreaux
Miles Boykin
Justin Brent
Devin Butler
Jimmy Byrne
Daniel Cage
Chase Claypool
Nick Coleman
Te’von Coney
Shaun Crawford
Scott Daly

Texas CB Paulson Adebo commits to Notre Dame

Paulson Adebo Rivals
Rivals / Yahoo Sports
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Notre Dame’s recruiting momentum continued through the weekend, with cornerback Paulson Adebo committing to Notre Dame. The Texas speedster, a 6-foot-1, 175-pound cornerback, made the decision official via social media on Monday afternoon.

Adebo had offers from Texas, USC, Oklahoma, Baylor, Oregon, Georgia and many others.

Winning another recruiting battle in the state of Texas is key, with Adebo getting onto campus in May for a Junior Day. That the Irish also landed a commitment from Adebo with an offer from Oklahoma also out there should help calm worries that the Lone Star State would be off limits without Kerry Cooks on staff, who was likely involved in Adebo’s recruitment for the Sooners. That’s two Texas prospects in this recruiting cycle, with quarterback Avery Davis very excited about the news of Adebo’s commitment.

Some schools see Adebo as a wide receiver, though Notre Dame has him penciled as an outside cornerback. His length and speed (Adebo has run the 200m in 21.4, according to a report from IrishSportsDaily) make him perfect for Brian VanGorder’s aggressive cover scheme.

Adebo makes 13 commitments in the 2017 cycle after a weekend flurry added pass rusher Jonathon MacCollister and receiver Jordan Pouncey. (Underclassman Markese Stepp also committed.) The run of four commitments in four days nearly matches the five recruits the Irish added in March, when David Adams, Avery Davis, Kurt Hinish, Drew White and Pete Werner all joined the 2017 class.

Adebo caught 41 passes for 730 yards and 11 touchdowns on offense while intercepting five passes during his junior season. Per MaxPreps, Mansfield went 12-3 in 2015, including a 6-0 record in Texas’s 6A level.

***

Irish A-to-Z: Scott Daly

Purdue v Notre Dame
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Notre Dame’s fifth-year long snapper has been all that the Irish staff hoped for when they offered him a scholarship. After saving a year of eligibility behind Jordan Coward, Daly has played in 39 consecutive games with a final season on tap in 2016 before turning over the reins to incoming freshman  John Shannon.

While the kick operation hasn’t always been smooth (2014’s roller-coaster with Kyle Brindza and a variety of holders), Daly’s shown a remarkable consistency and been able to handle both short and long snaps. His expertise was a big reason why new specialists Justin Yoon and Tyler Newsome both had excellent seasons.

 

SCOTT DALY
6’1.5″, 250 lbs.
GS, No. 61, LS

 

RECRUITING PROFILE

Daly received multiple scholarship offers before choosing Notre Dame, telling you pretty much all you need to know about a roster position that is often handled by walk-ons or cross-training offensive linemen.

Daly was national long snapper of the year according to Chris Rubio and 247 had him ranked second. He chose the Irish over Northwestern and a handful of other schools that offered scholarships.

 

PLAYING CAREER

Freshman Season (2012): Did not see action. Redshirted.

Sophomore Season (2013): Played in all 13 games, snapping for field goals and punts. Made two special teams tackles as well.

Junior Season (2014): Played in all 13 games, snapping for punts, field goals and extra points.

Senior Season (2015): Played in all 13 games, handling snaps for punts, field goals and extra points. Made one tackle and recovered a fumble on special teams.

 

WHAT WE SAID LAST YEAR

It seems that faith in Daly wasn’t a question—not just from me, but the Irish coaching staff (and sports information department).

It’s worth noting that on Daly’s official UND.com profile, they take great pains to point out that Daly “executed quality snaps on all 52 of his point after attempts, 24 field goal attempts and 51 punts.” (Doing the math, that’s every snap.)

It’s hard to interpret that in any way other than, “NOT HIS FAULT.”

Daly will need to continue that consistency, especially when every other piece of the special teams puzzle will be a new one. So while there’ll likely be a few rocky periods to 2015, expect the battery not to be the problem.

 

FUTURE POTENTIAL

It’s hard to get too colorful when discussing the upside of a long snapper, but Daly sure is a good one. If he’s interested in chasing a professional career, he’ll likely have that opportunity—his versatility and consistency will warrant a training camp invitation. He might be a good low-cost option for an NFL team to consider.

While we’ve taken it for granted, Notre Dame’s ability to hit on good scholarship specialists has been key. We’re a long way from the days of multiple kickers and punters taking scholarships because of swings and misses, like the logjam Brian Kelly inherited.

 

CRYSTAL BALL

With Yoon and Newsome returning, it should be a banner year for Notre Dame’s specialists and their kicking operation. Daly will be at his best when we don’t notice him. So consider this an endorsement for the invisible long snapper.

That should be the ultimate compliment.

 

2016’s Irish A-to-Z
Josh Adams
Josh Barajas
Alex Bars
Asmar Bilal
Hunter Bivin
Grant Blankenship
Jonathan Bonner
Ian Book
Parker Boudreaux
Miles Boykin
Justin Brent
Devin Butler
Jimmy Byrne
Daniel Cage
Chase Claypool
Nick Coleman
Te’von Coney
Shaun Crawford

Indianapolis 2018 RB Markese Stepp commits to ND

Markese Stepp Rivals
BGI / Andrew Ivins / Rivals
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Notre Dame’s run of landing elite in-state prospects continues. The Irish accepted the commitment of 2018 running back Markese Stepp over the weekend.

The star running back at Indianapolis’ Cathedral High School chose Notre Dame over offers from Michigan, Iowa, Tennessee and a dozen other schools after spending Saturday at the Irish Invasion camp.

Steep took to Twitter to make the news official, posting the following statement:

“Thanking God for all he has done & every coaching staff that has extended me a football scholarship offer. However, today after many prayers & conversations with my family, I have officially decided to conclude my recruiting process & verbally commit to THE UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME. I’m beyond excited to become a part of the legacy in South Bend.”

Stepp is the second member of the 2018 class (he’ll sign his letter-of-intent in roughly 20 months), joining blue-chip quarterback Phil Jurkovec as super-early commitments. The six-foot, 205-pounder hails from the same high school that brought former safety John Turner to South Bend and he’s a teammate of 2017 commit Pete Werner.

Notre Dame’s had their sights on Stepp for a long time, offering back in February, one of their earliest 2018 offers. Already viewed as one of the state’s best running backs, Stepp’s blend of power and speed helped him run for 1,300 yards and 17 touchdowns.

 

Irish land Florida WR Jordan Pouncey

Pouncey BK Rivals
BGI / Rivals, Andrew Ivins
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Notre Dame’s big recruiting weekend continued on Saturday evening when Florida wide receiver Jordan Pouncey joined the 2017 recruiting class. He was on campus for the Irish Invasion and gave his commitment to head coach Brian Kelly, the first receiver commitment in the cycle.

Pouncey is a 6-foot-3, 185-pounder from Winter Park, Florida. While he’s a three-star prospect, he’s a national recruit with offers from Alabama, Florida, and Georgia among his 40 college options.

Autry Denson has been recruiting Pouncey for months, building a relationship with the talented receiver who had ties to Florida—his cousins both starred for the Gators before heading to the NFL. But after a whirlwind tour of college campuses this summer, Pouncey decided Notre Dame was the place for him, ending a recruitment after offering him a scholarship in May.

Multiple outlets caught the moment Pouncey committed to Kelly inside the stadium, with video of the conversation circulating online. Many others saw Pouncey show off some freaky athleticism, finishing off a completion from Irish commitment Avery Davis with a pretty smooth backflip.

Pouncey is commitment No. 12 for the 2017 class.