Notre Dame football: The 5 best to play on the offensive line

Notre Dame offensive line (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Notre Dame offensive line (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /
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Offensive line
5. Quenton Nelson (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Quenton Nelson defined what it meant to be a mean, mauling guard. By balancing brutal force, and uniquely precise technique Nelson was a dominant force at guard for Notre Dame in recent seasons. It was splendid to watch him block.

During his time at Notre Dame, Nelson was a three-year starter and an All-American performer at his left guard spot. The only season he didn’t start in, was his freshman season when he took a redshirt. In that 2017 season, Nelson would be a finalist for the Outland Trophy, which is awarded to the nation’s top lineman.

More impressive than any accolade that Nelson won in his Notre Dame career was being able to watch him, and know he would dominate anyone across from him. He struck fear in the opponent’s hearts. Nelson was so big and strong, no one stood a chance against him.

He played for Notre Dame under Brian Kelly, from 2014-2017. During that time the team went through a few ups and downs. In 2015, he was apart of the offense that won 10 games and went to the Fiesta Bowl. Then, the disaster that was 2016 came around, leaving Nelson as one of the team’s few bright spots. However, he and the Irish had a great bounce-back season in 2017. It was another 10 win season, this time with a trip to the Citrus Bowl.

That turnaround from 2016 to 2017 was built on a culture change, which came from the Notre Dame offensive line. That culture came from Quenton Nelson in particular. An attitude of hard work and fearless play made the past few seasons possible at Notre Dame. The Irish have won 10 or more games each season since 2017, and it’s because of that identity that Nelson brought the team.

Nelson shared his side of the line with another one of the all-time greats, who unfortunately didn’t quite make the top five ever, Mike McGlinchey. The two of them formed a dominating duo that was virtually impenetrable to opposing defenses. Both players were top-10 draft picks in the NFL.

An Indiana local, Nelson’s determination to be the best helped him succeed his entire life, including at Notre Dame. Because of that determination, power, and natural talent, Nelson was able to make himself one of the best offensive linemen in the history of Notre Dame football.