ND A-to-Z: Steve Elmer

Now a fulltime guard, Steve Elmer is on a similar track as another former early enrollee who played in the NFL. One of Harry Hiestand’s first big recruiting gets is next in the A-to-Z series.

Steve Elmer spent his first two seasons on the move, but the direction wasn’t always forward.

He enrolled early at Notre Dame as a tackle, then moved to guard at mid-season when back surgery knocked out Christian Lombard. That made Elmer the sixth freshman to start on the Irish offensive line ever. Last season the coaching staff returned Elmer to tackle but only for three games. He returned to right guard in late September and it appears that’s where the junior will stay.

Irish Illustrated’s A-to-Z look at Notre Dame’s roster continues with the junior offensive lineman who is quietly trending up inside the program.

BEST-CASE SCENARIO

Notre Dame has a combination Zack Martin-Chris Watt as Elmer develops into an early round draft pick during the next two seasons. Elmer does have some positive momentum on his side after a good run through spring ball. Watching Elmer work out reveals player growing into his body and college football at large. The junior’s confidence now seems to match his talent. A player who was seen and not heard the past two seasons seems to have found his voice.

With Everett Golson out and the run game forced on Notre Dame with Malik Zaire, Elmer can play to his strengths while also improving his blocking on the move.

WORST-CASE SCENARIO

Notre Dame suffers an injury at offensive tackle and Alex Bars isn’t ready to play in space, forcing Elmer to make another position switch just as he’s clicked at right guard. Beyond that injury scenario or Elmer himself getting sidelined, it’s hard to envision anything that represents a step back for the junior. His development within the Irish program seems certain.

CAREER COMPARISON

When Elmer signed with Notre Dame, some inside the Gug saw the next Sam Young, a potentially surefire offensive line prospect with size, feet and smarts. Much of that has proven true for Elmer, but with the position change the better comparison is Trevor Robinson. Like Elmer, Robinson was seen as a potential tackle who could move inside. Also like Robinson, Elmer started part-time as a freshman at guard. Elmer made four starts as a rookie; Robinson made three. Both prospects also did early enrollment after playing in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. While injuries hurt Robinson’s career, he still caught on in the NFL.

DEVELOPMENT VS. RECRUITING RANKING

Elmer is the personification of a four-star prospect. He’ll go out as a three-and-a-half-year starter and should get a shot in the NFL too. Ranked 74th overall nationally, Scout.com nailed the offensive lineman’s talent. Hard to believe that at one point ESPN pegged Elmer as a three-star prospect and the lowest-ranked offensive lineman in that Irish class. He finished as a four-star prospect there.

Best Game

Difficult to select a best game for an offensive guard, but the Music City Bowl has to be the pick based on principle. Elmer wasn’t perfect against LSU – that first half shot Everett Golson took came from a rusher between Elmer and Mike McGlinchey – but he was powerful and athletic all game.

QUOTE TO NOTE

“We love running the ball. Putting it on the O-line is something we really like and relish. It’s great that (the coaches) know they can get the yards running behind the offensive line.  That’s a big boost to us.” – Elmer after the Blue-Gold Game

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