Mike McGlinchey (OT) – The team’s emerging locker room leader looked great during spring media viewing periods. Regardless, he has some work to do to live up to his predecessors on the left side.
Quenton Nelson (OG) – A bullying mauler. Half-man, half-beast.
Status: Ascending. Must be really fun to go against this guy in practice every day if you’re a haphazardly interested interior defender…
Alex Bars (OT) – Not yet all the way back from October foot surgery but Bars cemented his status – out of necessity – as Notre Dame’s right tackle for 2016…and likely beyond. Faces one of the nation’s most powerful defensive ends, senior Isaac Rochell, on a daily basis.
Sam Mustipher (C) – Will be Notre Dame’s starting center and is thus among the most important newcomers to the fray next fall. Mustipher is one of the team’s most intelligent players (in the classroom) – a reality that can’t hurt considering the position’s responsibilities on game days. (He’s yet to inherent line call duties from departed starter Nick Martin.)
Hunter Bivin (OG) – Hasn’t locked down the starting right guard role but is certainly the leader in the clubhouse. Was it by default?
Status: Ascending. He was nowhere near the field this time last spring. The key for Bivin – and Notre Dame’s offensive efficiency as a whole – is that the senior-to-be is more highly thought of in November than April.
Colin McGovern (OG/T) – First guard and/or tackle off the bench as of today, though incoming freshmen Tommy Kraemer and Liam Eichenberg could challenge him to that end.
Status: Stagnant. Like Bivin, McGovern is a senior with two seasons of eligibility remaining. Time to carve a niche.
Mark Harrell (OT/G/C) – Jack-of-all-trades returns for his final season in South Bend. You’ll likely see Harrell as one of Tyler Newsome’s three punt protectors next season.
Status: Ascending, as most had him headed for the real world rather than a fifth season in South Bend. Harrell should find field time as a backup T, G, and/or center in 2016.
Tristen Hoge (C/G) – Reportedly was beaten out more soundly than the coaching staff indicated in his head-to-head competition vs. Mustipher for the starting center role. Still, Hoge could be the first center AND guard off the bench next season.
Status: Stagnant, but he has four seasons of eligibility remaining, so probably not a completely fair assessment.
Jimmy Byrne (OG/T) – The only member of the 2014 recruiting class yet to appear in a contest. Can he fight off any of the incoming trio of blockers in August and thus avoid third team duties as a junior?
Status: Stagnant. Which equates to a step back.
Trevor Ruhland (OG) – Was recruited as a developmental guard and his first season played out to that end. Ruhland is unlikely to appear in competitive action this season which makes spring ball 2017 (and 2018) his proving ground.
Status: Stagnant, but with time to grow
-- Note: The aforementioned Tommy Kraemer and Liam Eichenberg, plus guard Parker Boudreaux, join the unit this summer.