ND A to Z: Alex Bars

In his two starts as a red-shirt freshman in 2015, Bars performed well in the absence of injured Quenton Nelson. Bars moved from guard to tackle this spring.

Alex Bars was a second-team all-USA Today prep All-American in 2013, leading Montgomery Bell Academy (Nashville, Tenn.) to a 10-2 record and the Tennessee Division II-AA semifinals. He participated in the Under Armour High School All-America Game following his senior season.

Bars is the son of former Irish linebacker Joe Bars (1981-84), who made 29 career tackles and was a part of Gerry Faust’s first recruiting class at Notre Dame.

Alex Bars’ brother Brad played defensive end at Penn State. Undrafted following the 2014 season, Brad Bars signed with the New York Giants and remains a part of the organization after playing in two games last season.

Another brother, Blake Bars, played in seven games as a reserve offensive lineman at Michigan in ’15 and was named Academic All-Big Ten.

Hunter Bivin and/or Colin McGovern settles in at right guard, allowing red-shirt sophomore Alex Bars to remain at right tackle, which is where he aligned throughout most of the spring and adapted well. A powerful run blocker with the athleticism to play on the edge, the 6-foot-6, 320-pounder is primed to be a three-year starter and a viable NFL prospect down the road.

The Irish can’t find a suitable right guard to give them what they need at that position – a power run-blocker first and foremost – which could prompt a shift by Bars to the interior. A more likely scenario, however, would be freshman Tommy Kraemer – a projected tackle long-term – getting a look inside where the adaptation to the college game tends to be a bit quicker than at tackle. One way or another, Bars is likely to remain at right tackle.

Bars is a true combination tackle-guard with skills/dimensions offering benefits at both positions. That’s reminiscent of what Christian Lombard (2011-14) did for Notre Dame in recent years. A better comparison would be Mike Rosenthal (1995-98), who dabbled at left tackle as a young player, a la Bars, moved to guard as a first-time starter, also like Bars, and then eventually settled into the right tackle spot, where he emerged as a captain. Rosenthal, a fifth-round draft choice, went on to play in the NFL from 1999-2008.

Bars may have been a bit undervalued by Scout as the No. 202 overall player and No. 14 offensive tackle, although he was appropriately listed as a four-star prospect. Powerful enough to play guard but long and agile enough to play tackle, Bars is on pace commensurate to a four-star prospect with the strong likelihood of becoming a three-year starter at Notre Dame.

Bars really turned Brian Kelly’s head during preparation for the 2014 Music City Bowl as a true freshman, a season which he preserved. He lost the battle to Quenton Nelson for the starting left guard slot in ’15, but was called into duty when Nelson suffered a high ankle sprain against Clemson in the fifth game of the season. Bars was in the lineup during Notre Dame 19-point fourth quarter against the Tigers. He started the following week against Navy and the week after that versus USC. Bars did not perform like a first-time starter with the Irish rushing for 178 yards against Navy and 214 against USC. The Irish scored 41 points in each of Bars’ starts. His season came to a close, however, when he suffered a broken ankle in the USC game.

“I really like where he is now. Alex has settled in (at tackle). For what we need for our team, he definitely needs to play tackle. He’s very good at guard, too. He’s a very flexible guy. But we have to have guys that can protect on the edge at tackle when the game comes down to that.”
-- Offensive line coach Harry Hiestand this spring

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