Matt Cashore / IrishIllustrated.com

Irish A-to-Z: Aaron Banks

Aaron Banks hasn’t competed in his first training camp yet, but the early enrollee already has the look of a multi-year starter. This mauler is next up in our Irish A-to-Z series.

National Ranking: A unanimous four-star among the recruiting services, Banks was also a Top 200 prospect on Scout, Rivals and 247. Rivals went the highest at No. 121 overall, but Scout was the only service to project him at guard, where Banks played during spring ball. The outlier was ESPN, which rated Banks at No. 278 and No. 28 among offensive tackles. Want some perspective on how well Notre Dame has recruited the offensive line? Banks rated No. 163 overall on Scout, which made him the 16th-highest rated offensive lineman of the Kelly era. Sixteenth!

Irish Illustrated Rank: We ranked Banks at No. 9 among Notre Dame’s freshman class, which was actually third inside the offensive line group. Within our staff the spread on Banks was large, going as high as No. 4 all the way down to No. 18. Based on spring practice impressions, Banks will clearly be a Top 10 player from Notre Dame’s most recent haul.

Position: Offensive Guard

Likelihood of Freshman Red Shirt: High

2017 Path To Playing Time

There isn’t one barring multiple injuries. Remember that of the 22 offensive linemen to have enrolled under Brian Kelly, all but two took a full red shirt. Steve Elmer started a handful of games after doing early enrollment, but even that was pushed by injuries. Ronnie Stanley played briefly in September before taking a medical red shirt back 2012. With Quenton Nelson, Alex Bars, Tristen Hoge, Hunter Bivin and Trevor Ruhland all available at guard, it makes no sense to play Banks this season, even after he got some second-team work during spring practice. Just like the last three classes, this year’s incoming offensive linemen will red shirt across the board, even after Banks and Robert Hainsey did early enrollment.

Long Term Projection

It might not look like it today, but Notre Dame could have a four-year starter on its hands in Banks. Think about the offensive guard depth chart beyond this year when it will shed Quenton Nelson and Hunter Bivin. Assuming Alex Bars stays at guard for his fifth year, that would basically put Banks in competition with Tristen Hoge and maybe Robert Hainsey for the open guard position. Technically Trevor Ruhland could be part of that too, but Banks, Hainsey and Hoge all appear to have more natural talent. But even if Banks didn’t win the job as a red-shirt freshman, there’s still a very good chance he’d be a three-year starter here. Quite a pickup for Harry Hiestand, beating out Michigan for this California talent.

Player Comparison

It’s hard to make one considering Banks has yet to hit his first training camp, but the Irish have had some early enrollee offensive linemen in the past 10 years. Based on Banks’ overwhelming size, the easiest comparison is Chris Stewart, who did early enrollment, took a red shirt, worked briefly on the defensive line, then settled in at offensive guard. Stewart ultimately developed into a three-year starter (35 career starts) and Banks might find himself on a similar track.

Quotable

“You’ll see a big man, over 300 pounds, moving around like a skill player.” – Offensive coordinator Chip Long


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