In the film room...Liam Eichenberg
• Assets: A strong, powerful, technically-sound operator out of a left tackle position with a real quality frame upon which to continue to build. Looks good in a football uniform, like an athletic big guy. Does a nice job of creating a concentrated force of power upon contact. Really drives his legs and gets strong push with powerful hands and locked arms.
Top-notch pad level out of a three-point stance. Shows the ability to stay low and really get his pads underneath a defensive end. Also can widen his base to get underneath a block. For a player who really drives with his lower body, he maintains his feet and shows very good balance.
Also shows a technically-sound pass block set-up/technique. Can confidently kick-step his way to the outside with agility, and then square himself up to aggressively absorb/take on a pass rusher. A very solid use of hands, both as a run blocker and pass blocker.
• Room for improvement: A more effective performer in tight spaces than in open space, which likely would make him more of a right tackle/guard than a left tackle, where he plays in high school. Not the quickest of feet in space, although there’s no video evidence that indicates discomfort against an outside rush.
• Top offers: Notre Dame. ACC: Boston College, Florida State, Miami, Pittsburgh; Big Ten: Illinois, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Rutgers; Big 12: West Virginia; SEC: Alabama, Tennessee.
• Why Notre Dame: Ultimately, this came down to a two-horse race between Notre Dame and Ohio State with the Irish coming out on top this past weekend as both held their spring games.
Eichenberg made his fourth visit to the Notre Dame campus the weekend of April 11, and then attended the Ohio State spring game Saturday while Notre Dame was conducting its Blue-Gold Game.
“Notre Dame is just a great campus overall, and I love their offensive line coach, who I think is one of the best in the nation,” said Eichenberg earlier this spring of Notre Dame and Harry Hiestand. “I want to red-shirt, but early playing time will be important, and I’d like to be on the two-deep as a sophomore.”
• ND’s 2016 offensive tackle recruiting: With the commitment of Eichenberg, the Irish are sitting pretty in this year’s offensive tackle recruiting. Notre Dame previously received a verbal commitment from four-star Tommy Kraemer (Cincinnati), filling a huge need early in the recruiting process.
Other tackles on Notre Dame’s offer list that have a strong interest in Notre Dame include Willie Allen (River Ridge, La.), and Ben Bredeson (Hartland, Wis.), who projects as a star wherever he aligns along the offensive line. Parker Boudreaux (Orlando, Fla.) also could be a mauling right tackle, but probably projects even better at guard.
• ND’s 2016 offensive tackle depth chart: Left tackle Ronnie Stanley almost left Notre Dame after the 2014 season, so it’s unrealistic to expect him back for a fifth year in 2016. Mike McGlinchey presumably will have a full year of starting assignments under his belt at right tackle and enter the 2016 season with two years of eligibility remaining.
For Mark Harrell to be back in ’16, he’d have to be granted a fifth year, which at this stage appears to be a long shot. Hunter Bivin, a senior in ’16 with two years of eligibility, is still trying to settle in at a spot after playing on the interior early and falling in line at left tackle behind Stanley.
Although Alex Bars worked at left guard this spring, he remains a tackle prospect and could be the projected starter at one of the two tackle positions, although Bars’ best position probably is guard. There are no incoming offensive tackles in the freshman class that arrive this summer, unless Jerry Tillery moves back from the defense, which is very, very doubtful. Another possibility is Colin McGovern, who worked at guard and tackle in the Blue-Gold Game and will have two years left in ’16.
• Summary: One service has Eichenberg listed as a three-star prospect and I get it. He’s still growing into his body and learning what he can and can’t do athletically. He’s better in tight quarters than he is with a lot of field to cover.
By the same token, he has the power, aggressiveness, solid use of his hands, balance, lower-body drive and even pass-blocking technique. If I were to be pinned down to choose one ranking over the other, I’d say he has many more four-star qualities than three-star assets.
Consider that he had offers from Notre Dame, Alabama, Florida State, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Tennessee. That tells you that there is much to work with over a four-to-five year time span. If he’s coachable and willing to work at his craft – which appears to be the case – this is a very solid prospect. You better be strong and play really low to beat him.
Notre Dame has the makings of an outstanding collection of offensive linemen in the Class of 2016. Tommy Kraemer is an even better tackle prospect than Eichenberg, and guys like Ben Bredeson and Parker Boudreaux remain in play. Of those four, Eichenberg is the least accomplished, which says more positive things about the other three than it does negatives regarding Eichenberg. Eichenberg is a big-time, legitimate major college player.
In a mid-April battle with The Ohio State University, this is a huge win for the Irish and another building block for what is shaping up to be a real quality offensive line haul.