With the commitment of Rock Island (Ill.) Alleman offensive tackle Charles Jagusah on Thursday, Notre Dame has solidified a dynamic five-man offensive line class in Harry Hiestand’s return to the staff.
It’s hard to get better than a group of Jagusah, Sullivan Absher, Sam Pendleton, Elijah Paige and Joe Otting.
The class is even more appealing when you project how favorably the group should be able to play together. From left tackle all the way to right, this group has outstanding upside and potential. Of course, left tackle is the position that most people talk most about up front, and for good reason.
With the evolution of the spread offense the importance of the left and right tackle have become less and less separated. Still, that blindside protector trumps all, especially with Notre Dame's more pro-style oriented pass attack. For a long time, Mount Pleasant (S.C.) Oceanside Collegiate Academy standout Monroe Freeling was viewed as the ideal left tackle recruit for the Irish. With that fit becoming less and less likely, the commitment of Phoenix (Ariz.) Pinnacle offensive tackle Elijah Paige becomes even more important.
The 6-6, 300-pound offensive tackle is criminally underrated from a recruiting rankings perspective. He ranks as high as the No. 223 overall player and No. 23 offensive tackle in the 2023 recruiting class. Along with Rivals, those are the only two recruiting platforms that currently award him four-star status. That is, frankly, inexcusable.
The talent is easy to spot on film. Boasting ideal size for the position, including outstanding length and foot quickness, there is an argument that Paige could have potentially the highest upside of any offensive lineman in the 2023 class, and one of the highest nationally.
He was once viewed inappropriately as a “throw in” recruit in this class, almost holding a label as a depth piece. That drastically undersells the caliber of football player Paige is. Out of the five 2023 offensive line commits, he also projects most favorably to the left tackle position.
Strength has been the main question mark with Paige, needing to add some weight to his frame, which is typically the case for most juniors in high school. Early indications are that he did just that this off-season.
If the strength takes a huge jump then there is little to nitpick in Paige’s game. He also could be due for a massive jump in the recruiting rankings.
His technique was already advanced for an offensive lineman his age. Paige also clearly already had every trait you would want from a premier offensive tackle. That makes him close to as complete a package as you will find.
Notre Dame obviously needs that type of player in this class and Paige looks like he definitely provides that upside at the left tackle position. Paige quickly went from an outstanding member in the 2023 offensive line group to arguably the most important one in a hurry.
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