Notre Dame returns three starters to the Offensive Line in 2013 including Left Tackle Zack Martin. Martin decided to return to Notre Dame for his 5th year of eligibility before the BCS National Title Game. The return of Martin is very significant for Notre Dame. He was Notre Dame’s best Linemen and a captain in 2012. Left Tackle is arguably the most important position in football. He will be able to protect the blindside of Everett Golson and be a force in the running game.
Also returning for a 5th year at Notre Dame is Left Guard Chris Watt. Watt has played a significant amount of football alongside Martin. The two work well together. Besides Martin, Watt was the best Linemen Notre Dame had last season.
The final returning starter from 2012 is Right Tackle Christian Lombard. Lombard was a highly recruited Linemen coming out of high school. Is Right Tackle his best position or should he move inside? He does have the option of playing either Tackle or Guard in this Offense.
The remaining top candidates to fill these slots are Ronnie Stanley, Nick Martin and Connor Hanratty. Nick Martin had some experience at playing Center but has also cross-trained at every position. Stanley is definitely a Tackle. Most likely, he is a Left Tackle but he could play Right Tackle if needed. Connor Hanratty has really reworked his body since entering college and should be ready to make a contribution at Notre Dame. He is definitely a Guard.
Other players who could contribute are Matt Hegarty, Steve Elmer and Mark Harrell. Hegarty has had well documented off the field medical issues that have prevented him from playing. With those issues, it is really hard to say what he can give the Irish this year despite being very talented. Elmer is an early enrollee for the Fighting Irish. He has a body that is ready to compete. He immediately becomes one of Notre Dame’s best tackles. Finally, Harrell is a player who could play anywhere along the interior of the Offensive Line including Center. Center is a position of need. He could step in for that role.
Projected 2013 Depth Chart
1. Martin, Watt, Martin, Hanratty, Lombard
2. Stanley, Harrell, Hegarty, Heggie , Elmer