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Irish A-to-Z: John Montelus

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When Brian Kelly plucked offensive lineman John Montelus from his hometown of Everett, Massachusetts, the Irish looked to be adding another mauler to the interior of Harry Hiestand’s offensive line. And after two seasons of reshaping his body and learning the ropes, Montelus is in a competitive two-deep, still looking for a role in this offense.

Yet another highly-touted recruit in the junior class fighting for playing time up front, Montelus ran with the second-string this spring behind right guard Steve Elmer while Quenton Nelson and Alex Bars shared time on the left side. That’s a long way from where he started, badly out of shape after a shoulder injury disrupted the beginning of his career.

Let’s take a closer look at Montelus and the still uphill climb he has in front of him.

 

JOHN MONTELUS
6’4″, 310 lbs.
Junior, No. 60, OL

 

RECRUITING PROFILE

A Top 100 prospect who picked Notre Dame over places like Florida, LSU, Nebraska, Michigan, Ohio State and more.

Kelly went into his hometown and plucked one of Massachusetts’ best football players, a US Army All-American. But Montelus hurt his shoulder in San Antonio, ultimately setting him back at the beginning of his career.

 

PLAYING CAREER

Freshman Season (2013): Did not see action.

Sophomore Season (2014): Played in one game, seeing time against Michigan. Served as a guard on Notre Dame’s offensive scout team.

 

WHAT WE SAID LAST YEAR

The shoulder injury seemed to slip by me last year. But I do like the comparison to Chris Stewart, one of my favorite student-athletes to come through Notre Dame in quite some time.

For as promising as Montelus is as a prospect, it might be a while until he works his way into the lineup. This season is a perfect year for him to get some experience on special teams, a massive interior blocker that should keep punters and place kickers safe. From there, he’ll need to continue working, as he’ll battle some promising prospects for playing time, especially as Hiestand’s recruiting efforts don’t seem to be slowing down.

In many ways, Montelus reminds me of a better-developed Chris Stewart. It took the former offensive lineman a few seasons to get his body under control and to find the best way to tap into his potential before becoming a nice starter for the Irish.

We’re going to have to recalibrate what we expect from offensive linemen in South Bend, especially as the two-deep becomes packed with players capable of contributing. That means that Montelus might not be on the field all that soon, but his future is still as bright as ever.

 

FUTURE POTENTIAL

The embarrassment of riches (at least on paper) that Notre Dame has along the offensive line makes projecting Montelus’ future very difficult. This spring, new offensive coordinator Mike Sanford mentioned that the offensive line depth—nearly ten deep with players capable of starting—gave him flexibility like he’s never had. Montelus will need some of that flexibility to be put into play if he wants to be a viable option to replace (or surpass) Steve Elmer or Quenton Nelson.

Realistically, Montelus needs to keep working for his opportunity. Nelson doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Elmer has two seasons left of competition. And there’s not much positional flexibility for Montelus, one of Notre Dame’s more true guards.

Again, there’s a reason why Montelus was highly recruited. But entering his third year, and in competition with players like Colin McGovern, Sam Mustipher, Hunter Bivin, Mark Harrell and Jimmy Byrne (with elite talent on its way in), the depth chart is only going to reload.

 

CRYSTAL BALL

The number I find most impressive with Montelus is 310. (Pounds.) That’s down 30 from when Montelus was an out-of-shape freshman, showing his commitment to fitness and reshaping his body after recovering from shoulder surgery.

Going from what we’ve heard is always dangerous, but Montelus has a reputation of being one of the team’s more physical interior offensive linemen. That should serve him well, especially as the Irish try to eliminate the finesse from their game plan. And he’s gotten the attention of his head coach, who talked about the additional reps he was taking this spring and how it’s only helped him improve and show the coaches what he’s capable of doing.

Ultimately, I think Montelus makes his move—but only onto the offensive line on special teams. Unless an injury hits on the interior, I expect regular action for him on the kick units, all while making sure he holds onto his place in the two-deep at guard.

 

THE 2015 IRISH A-to-Z
Josh Adams, RB
Josh Barajas, OLB
Nicky Baratti, S
Alex Bars, OL
Asmar Bilal, OLB
Hunter Bivin, OL
Grant Blankenship, DE
Jonathan Bonner, DE
Miles Boykin, WR
Justin Brent, WR
Greg Bryant, RB
Devin Butler, CB
Jimmy Byrne, OL
Daniel Cage, DL
Amir Carlisle, RB
Nick Coleman, DB
Te’von Coney, LB
Shaun Crawford, DB
Scott Daly, LS
Sheldon Day, DL
Michael Deeb, LB
Micah Dew-Treadway, DL
Steve Elmer, RG
Matthias Farley, DB
Nicco Fertitta, DB
Tarean Folston, RB
Will Fuller, WR
Jarrett Grace, LB
Jalen Guyton, WR
Mark Harrell, OL
Jay Hayes, DL
Mike Heuerman, TE
Kolin Hill, DE
Tristen Hoge, C
Corey Holmes, WR
Chase Hounshell, TE
Torii Hunter, Jr. WR
Alizé Jones, TE
Jarron Jones, DL
DeShone Kizer, QB
Tyler Luatua, TE
Cole Luke, CB
Nick Martin, C
Greer Martini, LB
Jacob Matuska, DL
Mike McGlinchey, OT
Colin McGovern, OL
Peter Mokwuah, DL

Irish A-to-Z: Peter Mokwuah

Photo property of Rich Clark
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It didn’t take long for Notre Dame’s coaching staff to know they wanted to offer Peter Mokwuah. After getting a glimpse of the big-bodied defensive tackle, Brian VanGorder and Brian Kelly went to Staten Island and left with a key piece to the depth chart.

Now a year removed from a redshirt season spent learning and building his body, Mokwuah gets to show what the Irish staff uncovered in the final days of recruiting. With a depth chart that has veteran experience but also injury woes, Mokwuah could be called on to held hold the point of attack.

Let’s dig deeper into Big Pete’s chances.

 

PETER MOKWUAH
6’3″ 317 lbs.
Sophomore, No. 96, DL

 

RECRUITING PROFILE

Notre Dame came into the picture late, with Brian Kelly and Brian VanGorder setting foot in St. Joseph-by-the-Sea high school and leaving with a commitment. Mokwuah was a Rutgers commit, but was quick to switch allegiances once the Irish came calling.

A three-star prospect who stayed off of national lists, Mokwuah has a big, projectable body and filled a gaping roster hole.

 

PLAYING CAREER

Freshman Season (2014): Did not see action.

 

WHAT WE SAID LAST YEAR

Just like Louis Nix, Mokwuah didn’t play as a freshman. Unlike Nix, Mokwuah enters a depth chart near the bottom needing to work his way up.

There’s no pressure on Mokwuah to step onto the field and play in 2014. While the depth chart isn’t the deepest up front, it could benefit Mokwuah to spend a year watching, learning and growing even larger under Paul Longo’s guidance.

But it’ll be interesting to watch Mokwuah’s development at Notre Dame — mostly to see if VanGorder was able to quickly identify a contributor at defensive tackle in just a few weeks of work, especially after spending most of the last decade in the NFL. Transition recruiting periods are always difficult, and the personnel needed in VanGorder’s scheme is different than what Bob Diaco was looking for.

But Kelly acknowledged casting a wider net at defensive tackle after being incredibly selective, and it resulted in Daniel Cage and Mokwuah joining the class when they weren’t even on the radar at Thanksgiving.

Ultimately, what should make Mokwuah succeed at the collegiate level is his size and versatility. And while he’s only been on campus since June, his newest nickname (“Little Lou,” after Louis Nix) certainly shouldn’t have Irish fans upset.

 

FUTURE POTENTIAL

Without having seem Mokwuah do anything but take some snaps in the spring game, it’s impossible to know what Notre Dame has in him. But even if Jerry Tillery was the defensive lineman who stole all the attention this spring, Mokwuah will be needed if the Irish are going to be a run-stuffing defense that takes away the line of scrimmage.

Mokwuah still seems like a ball of clay, ready to be molded by new defensive line coach Keith Gilmore. The good news? He’s a really big one, and that’s more than half the battle up front.
CRYSTAL BALL

As I look at the depth chart, Mokwuah’s participation likely hinges on the health of Jarron Jones. The senior defensive lineman might be a step slow coming off of foot surgery, and that would force the entire tackle position to shift down a rung.

That bad news for Notre Dame would be good news for Mokwuah’s playing time, though. But even then, he’ll be fighting a capable group of young defensive linemen for playing time, with guys like Daniel Cage and Tillery likely having a head start.

Late attention on the recruiting trail isn’t much of an indicator in ability to contribute. We saw that with Cage, who quickly moved into the rotation at nose guard. So while Mokwuah’s road to the field looks backed up, he’s got four years of eligibility remaining. And even if his contributions are limited to special teams and garbage time, getting on the field this season should be the realistic goal.

 

THE 2015 IRISH A-to-Z
Josh Adams, RB
Josh Barajas, OLB
Nicky Baratti, S
Alex Bars, OL
Asmar Bilal, OLB
Hunter Bivin, OL
Grant Blankenship, DE
Jonathan Bonner, DE
Miles Boykin, WR
Justin Brent, WR
Greg Bryant, RB
Devin Butler, CB
Jimmy Byrne, OL
Daniel Cage, DL
Amir Carlisle, RB
Nick Coleman, DB
Te’von Coney, LB
Shaun Crawford, DB
Scott Daly, LS
Sheldon Day, DL
Michael Deeb, LB
Micah Dew-Treadway, DL
Steve Elmer, RG
Matthias Farley, DB
Nicco Fertitta, DB
Tarean Folston, RB
Will Fuller, WR
Jarrett Grace, LB
Jalen Guyton, WR
Mark Harrell, OL
Jay Hayes, DL
Mike Heuerman, TE
Kolin Hill, DE
Tristen Hoge, C
Corey Holmes, WR
Chase Hounshell, TE
Torii Hunter, Jr. WR
Alizé Jones, TE
Jarron Jones, DL
DeShone Kizer, QB
Tyler Luatua, TE
Cole Luke, CB
Nick Martin, C
Greer Martini, LB
Jacob Matuska, DL
Mike McGlinchey, OT
Colin McGovern, OL

Notre Dame releases training camp schedule

Brian Kelly
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We are a little more than a week away from the start of the 2015 football season. Notre Dame released their training camp schedule on Wednesday, highlighting the key dates leading up to the season opener against Texas.

Brian Kelly will kick things off by addressing the media on August 6, before the Irish spend five days practicing at Culver Academies. The Irish will be off-campus for nearly a week before returning to South Bend on Wednesday, August 12 to start their work on the LaBar practice fields.

Media Day is scheduled for August 18, with an extended opportunity to talk with assistant coaches and key players. Kelly is also set to answer questions, and will be made available to local media after the team’s opening practice on Friday, August 7th, as well as a week later back on campus on Thursday the 13th.

The school year officially begins on Tuesday, August 25th, with the Irish holding 20 days of practice in the month of August before officially switching gears to game week preparations.

Irish A-to-Z: Colin McGovern

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Entering his third year in the program, offensive lineman Colin McGovern hasn’t found his way into the lineup. That’s the product of a depth chart filled with other talented options, as well as McGovern dealing with injuries and position switches as he looks to find his niche.

A long way removed from his highly-touted recruiting ranking, McGovern’s career is still far from being over. But as Harry Hiestand continues to bring in talent by the truckload, it’ll be up to McGovern this season to show his ability, putting him in line to make a move as he becomes an upperclassman.

Let’s take a closer look at the versatile offensive lineman.

 

COLIN MCGOVERN
6’4.5″, 315 lbs.
Junior, No. 62, OL

 

RECRUITING PROFILE

A hand-picked Harry Hiestand recruit, McGovern picked Notre Dame over offers from Alabama, Ohio State, Michigan, Nebraska, and a ton of other elite programs.

His star-rating varied based on the recruiting service, but McGovern looked the part of a national recruit that Notre Dame managed to pull out of Chicagoland. While he was recruited by some programs as a tackle, Notre Dame always saw him as a guard.

McGovern committed to Notre Dame the same day as classmate Hunter Bivin.

 

PLAYING CAREER

Freshman Season (2013): Did not see action.

Sophomore Season (2014): Played in two games as a reserve guard, seeing action against both Rice and Michigan.

 

WHAT WE SAID LAST YEAR

With Steve Elmer’s shift back inside and the emergence of Quenton Nelson, McGovern is still looking for his way into the mix.

It’s still likely too soon to see McGovern challenge for a starting job, but if injuries hit like they did last year, expect McGovern to be one of the players to get a call. Right now, you’ll likely see No. 62 playing offensive line on special teams, a nice transitional year before heading into stiff competition for Christian Lombard’s right guard job, the only spot that currently projects vacant in 2015.

McGovern is one of the top under-the-radar prospects on the team. His versatility and size should let him find the field in a utility role if necessary, but even if that doesn’t happen in 2014, the future looks very bright for McGovern.

 

FUTURE POTENTIAL

Every time I’ve seen footage of McGovern, I’ve liked what I saw. But at this point in his career—especially with the talent that’s in front of him—versatility might be the best thing that McGovern has going for him.

At guard, the next two seasons look fairly certain with Quenton Nelson and Steve Elmer locked into place. At tackle, Mike McGlinchey looks like a lock on the right side while Alex Bars is likely waiting in the very large wings of Ronnie Stanley.

If I’m reading the depth chart, I start snapping a football, knowing that the battle to replace Nick Martin starts this spring. And while three seasons of eligibility remaining is plenty of time to make a move, McGovern’s ceiling will likely be determined by how well he performs in camp, and if the staff believes he’s good enough to find a way into the lineup.

 

CRYSTAL BALL

Right now, the weak spot on Notre Dame’s offensive line is the depth at tackle and center. I’m not convinced that Hunter Bivin is the best option if someone goes down on the outside, and that’s a place where McGovern might be able to thrive.

Brian Kelly went out of his way to discuss McGovern this spring, praising both his size and ability, and talking about his opportunity to cross-train across the guard and tackle depth chart.

It’ll likely take someone going down for McGovern to get his chance, but if he has a strong camp, I get the feeling that he and Alex Bars will ascend to the key backups at tackle, while McGovern could also make a case for being a candidate to be sixth-or-seventh man.

 

THE 2015 IRISH A-to-Z
Josh Adams, RB
Josh Barajas, OLB
Nicky Baratti, S
Alex Bars, OL
Asmar Bilal, OLB
Hunter Bivin, OL
Grant Blankenship, DE
Jonathan Bonner, DE
Miles Boykin, WR
Justin Brent, WR
Greg Bryant, RB
Devin Butler, CB
Jimmy Byrne, OL
Daniel Cage, DL
Amir Carlisle, RB
Nick Coleman, DB
Te’von Coney, LB
Shaun Crawford, DB
Scott Daly, LS
Sheldon Day, DL
Michael Deeb, LB
Micah Dew-Treadway, DL
Steve Elmer, RG
Matthias Farley, DB
Nicco Fertitta, DB
Tarean Folston, RB
Will Fuller, WR
Jarrett Grace, LB
Jalen Guyton, WR
Mark Harrell, OL
Jay Hayes, DL
Mike Heuerman, TE
Kolin Hill, DE
Tristen Hoge, C
Corey Holmes, WR
Chase Hounshell, TE
Torii Hunter, Jr. WR
Alizé Jones, TE
Jarron Jones, DL
DeShone Kizer, QB
Tyler Luatua, TE
Cole Luke, CB
Nick Martin, C
Greer Martini, LB
Jacob Matuska, DL
Mike McGlinchey, OT

Irish A-to-Z: Mike McGlinchey

Stanford v Notre Dame
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Last preseason, Mike McGlinchey was the odd-man out along the offensive line, losing out on the opportunity to be the team’s starting right tackle. Entering 2015, he’s one of the key X factors that’ll determine whether or not Harry Hiestand’s offensive line is one of the elite units in the country.

McGlinchey was boxed out last fall when Steve Elmer started the year at right tackle after spending all spring at guard. And even after Elmer was kicked back inside after three games, McGlinchey stayed on the sidelines, with Hiestand and Brian Kelly picking Christian Lombard to play tackle over the first-year contributor, sliding Matt Hegarty in at center and Nick Martin over to left guard.

But Lombard’s bad back forced McGlinchey into the lineup against USC and LSU, and the young offensive lineman delivered. Building off that experience, the mega-talented prospect will have the opportunity to show so much more as he protects the blind side of left-handed quarterback Malik Zaire.

Let’s take a closer look at one of Notre Dame’s most intriguing players.

 

MIKE MCGLINCHEY
6’7.5″, 310 lbs.
Junior, No. 68, OT

 

RECRUITING PROFILE

A four-star prospect with some recruiting services seeing him as a Top 150 player. McGlinchey was a true projection-type recruit, and schools like Michigan, Penn State and Wisconsin were all trying to land the Philadelphia native.

If there was a prototype right tackle prospect, McGlinchey was it, and on Signing Day, Kelly was quick to praise him—while also wondering if he’d be a basketball player and almost a seven-footer by the time he was done growing into his frame in South Bend.

 

PLAYING CAREER

Freshman Season (2013): Did not see action.

Sophomore Season (2014): Played in all 13 games (predominantly on special teams) before replacing Christian Lombard at right tackle against USC. Started against LSU in the Music City Bowl.

 

WHAT WE SAID LAST YEAR

McGlinchey didn’t get the shot I thought he would get in 2014, though he proved why I was so bullish on him in the season’s final two games.

(I know, even a broken clock is right twice a day.)

McGlinchey is one of the few players where you can honestly say that the season hinges upon his ability. If McGlinchey can’t cut it at right tackle, a pretty significant domino-effect is going to happen. Steve Elmer will shift to right tackle, Conor Hanratty could be the next guard in, or guys like Matt Hegarty or Colin McGovern all of a sudden get an opportunity to play on the inside, taking away some of the depth that’s been so enviable.

At this point, it’s worth looking back at the offensive linemen Kelly has taken a shot on at a young age. First was a redshirt freshman from Indiana that was plugged in at left tackle from the beginning. It worked out okay for Zack Martin. Next was Lombard, who stepped in at right tackle in 2012, when Matt Romine had a fifth year available.

Ronnie Stanley more than proved his worth in a very impressive debut campaign last year. As did Steve Elmer, who played big minutes as a true freshman. That all bodes very well for McGlinchey, who has the size, length and athleticism to do some very impressive things at right tackle.

 

FUTURE POTENTIAL

There’s dazzling potential in McGlinchey, who has earned the praise of Kelly multiple times. Whether it’s for his quick feet, strong throwing arm or low-post game, it’s usually a good sign when a six-foot-eight offensive lineman is one of the team’s best athletes.

But looking good in the gym and being dominant on the football field are two different things. Even if the sample-size was small, doing great work against elite defensive lineman Leonard Williams and then the LSU front seven makes for a very bright future for a right tackle who should spend three years in the starting lineup.

 

CRYSTAL BALL

I’m all in on McGlinchey, who I think has a ceiling equal to Ronnie Stanley’s, who some are predicting (way too early, I might add) could be a candidate for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. That’s high praise for a guy with exactly one start, but deserving when you consider all the tremendous attributes that come along with McGlinchey’s game.

But here’s what we don’t know: How quickly will McGlinchey get comfortable in the starting lineup? Because he’ll be protecting the blindside of a young quarterback, one who has a propensity to run. That could make McGlinchey susceptible to speed rushers—already tough enough when you’re long and inexperienced—and could keep him from locking in his mechanics, something that forced Elmer to slide inside.

There’s no room for a 6-foot-8 guard, and McGlinchey’s future (both in college and at the next level) is at tackle. So while it’s a bit of a reach, there’s elite potential in McGlinchey, and I’m expecting him to show it off this season, creating another stay-or-go scenario for an offensive lineman in 2016.

 

THE 2015 IRISH A-to-Z
Josh Adams, RB
Josh Barajas, OLB
Nicky Baratti, S
Alex Bars, OL
Asmar Bilal, OLB
Hunter Bivin, OL
Grant Blankenship, DE
Jonathan Bonner, DE
Miles Boykin, WR
Justin Brent, WR
Greg Bryant, RB
Devin Butler, CB
Jimmy Byrne, OL
Daniel Cage, DL
Amir Carlisle, RB
Nick Coleman, DB
Te’von Coney, LB
Shaun Crawford, DB
Scott Daly, LS
Sheldon Day, DL
Michael Deeb, LB
Micah Dew-Treadway, DL
Steve Elmer, RG
Matthias Farley, DB
Nicco Fertitta, DB
Tarean Folston, RB
Will Fuller, WR
Jarrett Grace, LB
Jalen Guyton, WR
Mark Harrell, OL
Jay Hayes, DL
Mike Heuerman, TE
Kolin Hill, DE
Tristen Hoge, C
Corey Holmes, WR
Chase Hounshell, TE
Torii Hunter, Jr. WR
Alizé Jones, TE
Jarron Jones, DL
DeShone Kizer, QB
Tyler Luatua, TE
Cole Luke, CB
Nick Martin, C
Greer Martini, LB
Jacob Matuska, DL