Commitments Build Depth: OL

Notre Dame returns four starting offensive linemen for the 2011 season, so there isn't an immediate need for any of the three offensive line prospects the Irish signed in the 2011 recruiting class to be thrust into action.

You can probably count on Zach Martin, Braxston Cave, Trevor Robinson, and Taylor Dever holding onto their starting spots on the offensive line when the Irish begin the 2011 season. Left guard is the lone position vacated by graduation, and the odds on favorite to earn that spot is Chris Watt. The experience of the offensive line will allow freshmen Conor Hanratty, Matt Hegarty, and Nick Martin to learn and develop their first year at Notre Dame.

Conor Hanratty is slotted for an interior spot on the offensive line and that will likely be at offensive guard. Conor has mentioned that he made tremendous strides with his technique during his senior year at New Caanan High School, and that will likely continue during his first year at Notre Dame.

Hanratty uses his hands very well and he has good feet and keeps a solid base. He isn't the strongest or most technically sound player, but he is a physical player that enjoys mixing it up in the trenches. There is no quite, and he'll battle through the whistle.

Matt Hegarty is a U.S. Army All-American and the highest ranked offensive lineman the Irish landed in this class. At 6-foot-5, 280-pounds Hegarty could play either inside or outside, but Notre Dame will likely start Matt at one of the offensive tackle positions when he arrives in June.

Hegarty is extremely athletic and moves his feet very well. He can get out in front of a play and has the ability to pick up a linebacker or defensive back in space. Once he gets into a defender, more often than not, he'll finish him off.

Nick Martin is the third offensive lineman of the class, and like Hegarty, he is very athletic and can move. The 6-foot-4, 270-pound lineman has played up and down the line in high school, and that could be the case at Notre Dame as well. Martin has the athletic ability to play offensive tackle, but the size you like for an interior lineman. Martin could also fit the role of a swing player that is capable of playing both spots, which would give Notre Dame offensive line coach Ed Warinner a lot of flexibility.

Martin is a physical player that with a nasty demeanor. He's the type of lineman you love to have on your team, but don't like to play against them. He finishes his blocks and is very capable of getting out to the second level.

The earliest route to the field on the offensive line is on the interior where Notre Dame lacks numbers. At offensive tackle, the Irish have Christian Lombard and Tate Nichols situated behind Dever and Martin. Top Stories