Class Impact: OL Joe Alt To Notre Dame
Notre Dame picked up its third offensive line commitment of the 2021 class, landing Fridley (Minn.) Totino Grace standout Joe Alt.
Alt plays as much tight end as he does offensive line, if not more, but his future is along the offensive line. Landing the 6-7, 255-pound rising senior gives the Irish a third commitment in the 2021 class.
Alt picked Notre Dame over Iowa and Minnesota. His father, John Alt, played college football at Iowa before enjoying a 12-year NFL career. Alt also had offers from Missouri, Iowa State, Kansas State, Northwestern and Rutgers.
Let’s take a look at what his commitment means for Notre Dame.
Notre Dame’s current offensive line is loaded with talent, but things are going to start drying up a bit following the 2020 season. Notre Dame loses starter Liam Eichenberg, Tommy Kraemer and Robert Hainsey after this upcoming season, and there’s a chance left guard Aaron Banks could also be gone.
By the time the 2021 class shows up, Eichenberg, Kraemer, Hainsey, Banks, Joshua Lugg and Dillan Gibbons will all be gone.
One member of the 2018 offensive line class is already gone (Luke Jones) and another has struggled to stay healthy throughout his career (Cole Mabry). Notre Dame’s 2019 class still has plenty of upside and talent, but Quinn Carroll has already suffered a devastating knee injury, and the Irish signed just two blockers in the 2020 class.
That is why landing four offensive linemen is the minimum for this class, and anything less than that puts Notre Dame is a tough numbers situation in future seasons unless they can recover from two down classes numbers wise and land a huge class in 2022. Of course, that was what was said about the 2021 class.
With Alt now in the class, Notre Dame has three offensive linemen in the class, as he joins Blake Fisher and Pat Coogan. Fisher is one of the nation’s best blockers and Coogan is a tough and gritty regional player. This gets Notre Dame one step close to its numbers needs.
Alt also gives Notre Dame another prospect, along with Fisher, that could play tackle, which was a big need in this class. He’s extremely long, he’s a quality athlete and and if he can fill out his frame his upside is good on the edge.
Ideally, a program like Notre Dame would sign a more established player, a prospect with more certainty, but that isn’t where the Irish are at this point under line coach Jeff Quinn. If you aren’t at that point then you should shoot for high upside, project type players, and that is what Alt is right now. Whether or not you get excited about a prospect like this has to do with the confidence you have in the strength program, and for Notre Dame, that should create a high level of confidence that Alt will be able to tap into his potential as a player from a size and strength standpoint.
NOTRE DAME FIT
Alt fits what Notre Dame has landed at tackle for the last decade. He’s long, he has impressive footwork and he's a quality athlete. He’s more of a project from a body-type and technique standpoint, but from a pure length and athleticism standpoint he grades out well.
He’s listed at 255 pounds, but Alt is still thin, which is actually a good thing. When you have a pumped up or filled out player at 255 pounds it is going to be extremely hard to get him to 300 pounds without him losing athleticism and quickness. Alt has the kind of thin but broad frame that should make it much easier for him to not only fill out, but to do so while adding more explosiveness without losing his foot quickness.
Whether or not that happens remains to be seen, and that’s why he must be considered a project, but the point is he’s the kind of 255-pound project a program like Notre Dame should look for. He's the kind of kid programs like Wisconsin and Iowa land and thrive with.
His foot quickness is impressive for a future offensive lineman. Alt is quick off the ball, he has loose hips and the fact he’s a tight end means he is used to running routes and working in space. That should give him a good chance to be a much better movement blocker than most tackles.
Alt needs to get a lot stronger, but part of the reason I like him as a prospect is his attitude and toughness. He competes hard in the run game, and I absolutely love how much he drives his feet through contact.
In some ways, being undersized and not as strong as other top prospects could actually help him down the road. He has to work harder to get movement, he has to really drive his feet through contact to dominate, and he’s picked that up. Once he gets to around 300 pounds and once he gets a couple years in a college strength program under his belt, if he keeps that leg drive going he could become an impact blocker in the run game.
Alt will need A LOT of work in pass protection, and his hand play needs a lot of work as well. He’s quite raw in pass protection, especially from a footwork standpoint, and his hand placement is erratic, but he’s not an offensive lineman, so I don’t expect him to be great in either of those areas at this point.
The key for Alt when it comes to projecting his ability to block in the pass game is more about traits. Length? Check. Strong agility and overall athleticism? Check. Strong hands? Check. The traits are there, and he can learn the technical traits in time.
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