Notre Dame: Top 5 Offensive Line Recruits Of The Last Decade

Bryan Driskell

Notre Dame has recruited the offensive line as well as any team in the country over the last decade plus since head coach Brian Kelly arrived in South Bend.

Former line coach Ed Warriner did some good things, and current line coach Jeff Quinn has made a couple of strong pickups. Former line coach Harry Hiestand was a dominant recruiter and coach. Working through the 2020 offensive line preview today I got to thinking about the line recruiting we’ve seen at Notre Dame, and who were the best of the best.

I am taking into account my own ranking of each player and the ranking of the national services (Rivals, ESPN, Scout, 247Sports).

1. QUENTON NELSON, 2014

Recruited By: Harry Hiestand

Rivals: #29 nationally
Scout: #46 nationally
247: #75 nationally
ESPN: #175 nationally

Nelson was a truly dominant high school player for Red Bank (N.J.) Catholic. He was big, physical and athletic playing tackle for Caseys. Nelson was an Army All-American and a Top 100 recruit by Rivals, Scout and 247Sports. How ESPN saw him as a non-Top 100 player is quite the mystery.

Rivals was the only network to rank Nelson as a five-star recruit. Nelson, of course, went onto become an All-American at Notre Dame, which was followed by him being the No. 6 overall draft pick of the 2018 NFL Draft.

2. LIAM EICHENBERG, 2016

Recruited By: Harry Hiestand

247: #60
ESPN: #67
Scout: #79
Rivals: #194

There were other players ranked higher by the recruiting services, but Eichenberg is this high because of how I graded him coming out of high school. Eichenberg was my No. 1 ranked Notre Dame recruit in the 2016 class, and 247Sports, ESPN and Scout all ranked him as a Top 100 recruit.

Rivals had him as a three-star recruit until the final rankings, which came after he dominated at the Under Armour All-American Game, but their ranking of him was still well below the other services, and where Eichenberg should have been ranked.

3. TOMMY KRAEMER, 2016

Recruited By: Harry Hiestand

247: #8
Scout: #37
Rivals: #41
ESPN: #99

Kraemer was the top-ranked recruit according to the services. Kraemer was the #8 overall player in the country according to 247Sports, and he was a five-star and the #26 overall player on the composite ranking. Nelson ranked #61 on the composite list due to him being ranked absurdly low by ESPN.

Kraemer was a brute right tackle for Cincinnati (Ohio) Elder, and graded out as as Top 50 recruit on my board and by 247Sports, Scout and Rivals. He’s the only consensus Top 100 recruit to sign with Notre Dame in the last decade.

4. TOSH BAKER, 2020

Recruited By: Jeff Quinn

247: #42
Rivals: #51
ESPN: #187

We will have to wait and see if Baker’s lofty ranking was worth it, but based on high school film he had a unique combination that is hard to match. Baker graded out as a Top 50 player on my board and ranked #42 nationally by 247Sports. Rivals had him just outside the Top 50 as well.

Baker was an Under Armour All-American after a brilliant career at Phoenix (Ariz.) Pinnacle. He’s a long and athletic player that was also a starting center on the dominant Pinnacle hoops team. He has left tackle written all over him.

5. MATT HEGARTY, 2011

Recruited By: Ed Warinner

ESPN: #36
Rivals: #70
247: #84
Scout: #105

Hegarty was the next closest player to Kraemer when it comes to being a consensus Top 100 recruit. The Army All-American was a top-notch athlete for Aztec (N.M.) High School, dominating as a left tackle. 

He didn’t have the great size of other players on this list, which is why he ultimately moved inside, but he was a brilliant high school football player.

NOTES

*** Ronnie Stanley didn’t make this list because the recruiting services greatly undervalued him. Scout had him as a Top 100 recruit, but he was ranked #145 by 247Sports, #176 by Rivals and ESPN didn’t even have him in their Top 300.

*** Robert Hainsey was a consensus Top 150 recruit after a stellar career at Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy. He was a bit undersized, but his technique, toughness and leadership made him a dominant prep player.

*** Alex Bars was a Top 100 recruit according to both ESPN (#76) and Rivals (#98). He didn’t make the cut due to him not making the Top 150 by 247Sports and Scout.

*** Joshua Lugg was ranked #84 overall by 247Sports and #107 by Scout, but he didn’t make the cut because Rivals had him ranked all the way down at #236.

*** Steve Elmer was ranked #60 by Rivals and #74 by Scout, but he didn’t make this list due to ESPN leaving him out of their Top 300. I liked Elmer as well, but not quite enough to put him above other players in the list.

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Comments (3)
No. 1-2
MDLambert
MDLambert

I am laughing at ESPN's rank on Quenton Nelson.

Could you imagine if Harry was around to develop Eichenberg and Kraemer? Jeesh

ryno1134
ryno1134
  1. Nelson
  2. Stanley
  3. McGlinchey
  4. N. Martin
  5. Eichenberg (he might be able to get past Martin if he can push to the next level in 2020)

I'm sure I'm forgetting someone.


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