Montelus rounds out enviable quintet

For the second time in the last three recruiting cycles, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly has landed five offensive line competitors, further evidence the program is headed for solid ground after more than a decade of intermittent troubles up front.

Notre Dame received a trio of offensive line commitments late last month. Since, there wasn't a moment that I believed the team was finished, or should be finished, searching for at least one more verbal pledge from a quality OL to add to its 2013 cycle.

In short summation: Steve Elmer (Scout.com's #10 OT) was the first to commit, more than seven months ago after an in-season visit last September. The program's March 24 junior day took care of the aforementioned trio: Colin McGovern (#9), Hunter Bivin (#17), and Mike McGlinchey (#22 OT) all jumped aboard.

Saturday's Blue Gold game likely completed the cast for this signing period with the fifth verbal pledge at the position, Scout.com 4-star guard John Montelus (#2 OG).

The quintet of Scout.com 4-star prospects gives the program 12 offensive linemen in its last three recruiting cycles. Of the 12, none have burned a season of eligibility with another quintet being withheld from action last fall, and an incoming pair of commits ready to embark for campus this June.

Combine that dozen with the 2010 tackle tandem of Tate Nichols and Christian Lombard and G/C Bruce Heggie and Notre Dame offensive line coach Harry Hiestand will have 15 scholarship players with either two, three, four, or five seasons of eligibility at his disposal entering the 2013 season.

The 2012 squad loses 5th-year seniors Braxston Cave and Mike Golic, Jr. after this year's bowl game but true seniors Zack Martin and Chris Watt both have eligibility remaining through 2013 as well. (The early guess is Martin goes and Watt stays – the corollary is there's better chance of both staying than both entering the NFL Draft).

Regardless of their decisions, the 2013 Irish offensive front will be in good hands:

  • Barring transfer, a minimum of 15 and a maximum of 17 scholarship competitors (if its 17, expect a 2011 player to transfer due simply to human nature and the desire for playing time).
  • Two potential All-America candidates could be onboard as 5th-year seniors (Martin and Watt)
  • The potential for four returning starters exists including Nick Martin (RG) and Christian Lombard (RT).

  • With the exception of center, an entire second unit should be ready to ascend/fight for starting roles after hitting the field for the first time in 2012. (Look for N. Martin, Lombard, Nichols, Conor Hanratty, and Jordan Prestwood to all earn time this fall, with Prestwood playing the least simply because he backs up the all-star Z. Martin.)

  • Expected 2012 red-shirts Ronnie Stanley (OT) and Mark Harrell (moving from OT/tight end to center) will also enter the mix with a year in the program under their belts. Harrell should then be a redshirt-freshman battling redshirt-sophomore Matt Hegarty next spring.

The 6'5" 290-pound Montelus projects to the interior when he hits campus. He'll compete with Hanratty, Martin, Brad Carrico and Bruce Heggie (two more 2011 freshmen), Hegarty, and Harrell.

Notre Dame could have one of the 15 best offensive lines in the nation this season (it was last season prior to Braxston Cave's early November injury). If Martin and Watt stay for 2013, it would rank among the Top 5.

And with the five verbal pledges for 2013 coupled with the five-man haul from 2011 and the Stanley/Harrell pairing in tow, the program's front wall is in good hands through the 2016 presidential election.

Recruiting never stops, but Notre Dame can rest easily, at least at present, when searching for talent to join the program up front.


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