Athleticism a calling card for Bars

Our ninth of 22 (and counting?) "Eye in the Sky" film reviews for Notre Dame's incoming pledges examines offensive line prospect Alex Bars and how he could improve head coach Brian Kelly's Irish roster over the next four -- or five seasons.

Ranked 202nd overall and 14th among the nation's tackle prospects by Scout.com, Bars is among nine four-star prospects to join the Irish offensive front in the program's last two recruiting cycles.

Below is a film review of Bars with an eye toward his future place along Notre Dame's re-stocked offensive front.

Strengths and areas for development

Bars' first adjustment will be to a massive increase in caliber of competition; thereafter to pass protection as he has much work to do when not in attack mode…A potentially dominant run-blocker that fires off the snap…Like previously reviewed classmate Jimmy Byrne (click here), Bars thrives on contact and finishing engaged defenders, though Byrne's competition offered more resistance…Appears a legitimate 6'6" but bends well and maintains some athleticism when finding and securing defenders at the second level…

Time spent at defensive tackle during his prep career likely fostered his attack-first mentality…Could he move to guard with ample tackle candidates enrolling in 2014 and previously the last two cycles? At his best exploding off the snap or vertically attacking linebackers -- has the speed to get to the second level with impressive one- and two-step quickness at his size…

As athletic as Bars appears seeking and destroying defenders five yards downfield, his balance in pass protection needs work -- s peed rushers will likely be a problem in his first August training camp and throughout 2014…Needs a year of acclimation to the competition jump at the next level, though has the athleticism to play in short-yardage as a No. 3 tight end for an Irish offense bereft of a second proven blocker after the loss of Troy Niklas to the NFL…

Bars keeps his feet well in space as a run-blocker. Given time, he'll doubtless be able to do the same with tutoring from Irish offensive line coach Harry Hiestand in the passing game.

Road blocks to playing time

Bars needs a season on the scout team to acclimate to his new level of competition and to the intricacies of pass protection. Notre Dame should lose only G/TChristian Lombard from its offensive line mix entering 2015 making 2016 -- Bars' third season in the program -- as a target date for competition as a starter.

The three-year path is preferred by offensive line coach Harry Hiestand for most incoming lineman, the veteran tutor noting that Year Three in a college strength and conditioning program reaps major dividends. Current seniors Nick Martin, Conor Hanratty, and Matt Hegarty each debuted as starters as juniors (their third seasons) last fall. Each has two years of eligibility remaining entering 2014.

(Lombard, Chris Watt, and Braxston Cave are three more examples of third-year, first-time starters.)

Reminiscent of… Former Notre Dame All-America defensive tackle (and offensive line recruit) Jeff Alm. If Bars were to begin his career on the defensive side of scrimmage he'd likely evolve into a productive interior tackle for the Irish. He's likely though headed for offensive line work where athletes-in-progress -- especially those with a penchant for the physical -- are always welcomed.

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