If it were a draft setting, one might have been inclined to believe there was a run on offensive linemen – particularly tackle prospects – in the spring of 2012 when Notre Dame received verbal commitments from Hunter Bivin and Colin McGovern on the same day. That raised its total of offensive linemen to three with Steve Elmer pledging the previous fall.
Three of Notre Dame’s first five members of the 23-man Class of 2013 were offensive linemen, and McGovern – out of Lincoln-Way West High School via New Lenox, Ill. – was the one whose profile was rapidly on the rise.
While the reviews on McGovern were mixed, Scout elevated him to the No. 3 offensive tackle in Illinois, the No. 5 tackle in the Midwest and the No. 9 overall tackle in the country, which slotted him as the 133rd overall prospect.
Now headed into his third season in the program, it’s been a slow go for the 6-foot-4 ½, 315-pounder, due in part to knee surgery prior to his arrival to Notre Dame. After preserving a year of eligibility as a freshman in ’13, he made his Notre Dame debut in the 2014 season-opener against Rice, but saw action in just one more game – Michigan – and failed to garner action over the final 11 contests.
McGovern remains smack dab in the middle of Notre Dame’s radar, although he still was not able to crack the two-deep chart in the spring as the third right guard behind Elmer and John Montelus.
McGovern surges past Montelus on the depth chart to take a No. 2 spot behind Elmer at right guard, theoretically becoming “one play away” from entering the starting lineup. But promising red-shirt freshman Alex Bars likely would flip from left guard behind projected starter Quentin Nelson to right guard if something were to happen to Elmer. Because of his versatility, McGovern could slide back over to tackle – where he’s practiced before for the Irish – behind Mike McGlinchey. McGovern would have to beat out journeyman Mark Harrell for the No. 2 spot on the depth chart at right tackle.
McGovern languishes as the No. 3 right guard, where he should still be able to log some playing time on placekicks. Notre Dame would view its depth to be improved with a player of McGovern’s caliber on the No. 3 offensive line.
Although his background was considerably different as a defensive end turned offensive lineman, Brian Mattes was a four-star prospect out of Pennsylvania whose long-term projections leaned toward the offensive line. Mattes performed well enough on the practice field to work his way onto the depth chart behind players such as Dan Stevenson (2005) and Bob Morton (2006), but never could crack the starting lineup, which is a situation McGovern could find himself in if he doesn’t make a move soon.
It often takes offensive linemen more time than players at other positions to work their way up the depth chart. But if McGovern does not make a move past Montelus this fall, he will be behind schedule as a four-star prospect in the No. 3 right guard slot as a red-shirt sophomore.
To be determined
“A guy that we want to continue to grow and develop is Colin McGovern. He’s got the size and athleticism that allows him to play guard and tackle. He’s got that ability. Here’s a guy that’s been in the program a couple of years now that we really want to see shine for us.”
-- Brian Kelly in April, 2015