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The first guess might be current sophomore Nick Martin, younger brother of Zack. Brian Kelly has lauded the younger Martin's ability to play just about anywhere on the line. I could see a 2013 edition from left to right of Zack Martin, Chris Watt, Nick Martin, Conor Hanratty and Christian Lombard. However, Harry Hiestand has said he prefers to have not two inexperienced players lining up right next to each other (N. Martin and Hanratty) ... so it might not be inconceivable if Watt moved to center, with Martin and Hanratty then flanking him. Martin could serve like Golic did as a backup center, unless current freshman Mark Harrell advances quite rapidly.
When I asked Watt — who worked some at snapping in the spring of 2010 — about the possibility of him moving to center, he didn't say it couldn't be in the cards.
“Yeah, whatever the team really needs. I know Nick Martin’s done a great job coming in playing some center this year, as well as Mark Harrell, so it will be interesting … I wouldn’t mind. It’s another skill set to learn.”
Alabama's Barrett Jones did make the adjustment from tackle this year, but learning how to consistently snap, especially in the shotgun, would be the prime hurdle.
Are you giving up hope that Hegarty will be able to play next year?
SCirish843761 posts For the record my Oline right now with center concerns taken into account is... LT-Z.Martin LG-C.Watt C-N.Martin RG-C.Hanratty RT-C.Lombard Hanratty looked strong in clean up duty, I thin k it'll be a 2 man battle with him and Stanley this offseason to see the field, whoever wins will get RG or RT respectively and Lombard will go to the open position.IMO.
Your welcome Lou for the oline insight lol
I think you are forgetting Ronnie Stanley. Six foot six and 300 lbs plus with a basketball background, I suspect he will be right in the mix this spring.
I should say Matt Hegarty could become a factor too, but to miss the last month of the season the way he did and still a little uncertainty surrounding whether he will be ready for the spring ... it gives him maybe a little longer road.
Offensive line also is not about who is "second team" but who is in the top seven or eight rotation to get your five best players on the field. That's why Barrett Jones has started at three different positions at Alabama, including moving from tackle last year to center this season . It was so the five best offensive linemen could get on the field at once. It would appear to me that Nick Martin and Conor Hanratty might be considered the fourth and fifth best players at this point to complement the returning trio of Zack Martin, Chris Watt and Christian Lombard.
Any report on Nichols? I know he isn't a Center, but certainly 'was' in the mix earlier this year. He and Hegarty are wild cards with Stanley almost certain to see time as well.
Cave will be hard to replace in more ways than one. He is the best center at ND since Jeff Faine.
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How do you feel about Steve Elmer? He is enrolling early and is a great-looking recruit. The ceiling seems to be much higher with him than with some of the others and I think the experience he could gain from playing between say Zach Martin and Chris Watt at LG would give him what he needs to become a premier LT in 2014.
Just my thoughts.
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I always have a difficult time envisioning a freshman offensive lineman playing, never mind starting, as a freshman. Sometimes a roster might be so depleted that you have no choice, including Sam Young starting from day one in 2006. I don't think that is the case right now at Notre Dame. Witness the way they handled Ronald Stanley this year to preserve a fifth year of eligibility.
Your top four tackles next year are Martin, Lombard, Stanley and Tate Nichols, provided he gets healthy. If not, Stanley probably will be the top alternate on both side. Your guards will be Watt, Nick Martin, Conor Hanratty and Bruce Heggie. If Watt is moved to center (just speculation on my part), then a freshman will have to be on two deep unless there is another position switch. And who knows, if Hegarty and Mark Harrell are both ready, they could cross train as guards/centers, a la Mike Golic Jr.
A coaching staff will do everything within its power to redshirt a freshman offensive lineman, because no other position needs more time for development. I think since 2007, Notre Dame has recruited 20 offensive linemen, and in that time only one (Trevor Robinson in 2008) played as a freshman.
Never say never. It will help Elmer to be in spring practice, just as it did Robinson. He could well be on the two deep and in the mix all year like Stanley was this past season. But my initial reaction would be to say they might want to give him more grooming.
How does having a basketball background help his cause? The size yes..basketball I don't see the corelation.
This post was edited by brenner_f 19 months ago
Attended: Michigan @ ND 2010 Southern Cal @ ND 2011 Stanford @ ND 2012 BCS National Title Game vs. Alabama-Jan 7, 2013 ND @ Air Force 2013
Thanks Lou. We shall see what happens in the spring. Either way the Irish will be sitting pretty.
This "dilemma" is known in some circles as RELOADING!!!
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