RECRUITING

Notebook: Notre Dame OL recruiting continues with Ben Bredeson visit

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

The only offensive tackle Harry Hiestand successfully recruited in the 2015 class already has been taken away from him.

Jerry Tillery was once a part of a three-man offensive line haul for Hiestand, and the lone tackle of the group. But when Tillery enrolled at Notre Dame in January, he was flipped to defensive tackle with a better chance to play as a freshman.

After weeks of praise from head coach Brian Kelly and other coaches during spring practice, it doesn’t appear Tillery will be returning to the offensive line any time soon — if at all — in his Irish career.

That leaves offensive tackle as a top priority in the 2016 recruiting class. If Hiestand’s recruiting trend at Notre Dame holds, he’ll land quality players at a position of need on the offensive line. In three full recruiting cycles with the Irish, Hiestand has signed 11 offensive linemen (counting Tillery). Almost all were given four-star ratings or higher.

The 2016 cycle started successfully with an October commitment from Cincinnati offensive lineman Tommy Kraemer, a five-star prospect according to 247Sports. The Irish could add another commitment later this month from Liam Eichenberg of Cleveland, who is visiting the Irish this weekend. The four-star tackle will decide between Notre Dame and Ohio State after a final visit to see the Buckeyes next weekend.

The third offensive linemen in the conversation comes from Wisconsin. Ben Bredeson, a 6-foot-5, 280-pound tackle from Hartland Arrowhead, will also visit the Irish this weekend. The four-star recruit was previously at Notre Dame for the win over Michigan in September and a summer camp.

Rivals ranks Bredeson as the No. 3 offensive tackle in the 2016 class. 247Sports slates him No. 8 at the position. Bredeson claims offers from Big Ten powers Wisconsin, Ohio State and Michigan, as well as Alabama and Stanford, among others.

CBS Sports Network recruiting analyst Tom Lemming said Bredeson is a guy that will probably end up in the NFL following his college career.

“He’s tough. He’s technically sound, but he’s a big, physical kid like you usually find up in Wisconsin,” Lemming said. “He has a take-no-prisoners attitude. He’s an exceptional run-blocker. Besides being an exceptional run-blocker, he’s technically good as a pass-blocker too.”

The Irish likely will sign three or four offensive linemen come next year’s National Signing Day. A haul of Kraemer, Eichenberg and Bredeson would be substantial by any measure.

St. X visitors

The Irish will also host a pair of 2017 prospects from Cincinnati powerhouse St. Xavier.

Offensive lineman Matt Bockhorst and quarterback Sean Clifford both said they will be on campus Saturday. Bockhorst (6-4, 290) claims offers from Louisville and Toledo. Clifford (6-3, 190) threw for 832 yards and nine touchdowns as a sophomore. He reports offers from Pittsburgh and Akron.

Notre Dame recruited linebacker Justin Hilliard from St. Xavier, the same school that produced NFL Pro Bowler Luke Kuechly, in the 2015 class before he committed to Ohio State. Quarterback Luke Massa and offensive lineman Matt James were the last two St. Xavier players to sign with the Irish in 2010. James, a four-star recruit, died two months after signing day, in a spring break accident.

Okwara top five

Junior defensive end target Julian Okwara, the younger brother of Notre Dame’s Romeo Okwara, released his top five schools Friday on Twitter. Notre Dame joined Clemson, Georgia, Michigan and Ole Miss on the list for the four-star recruit.

The 6-4, 210-pound prospect from Charlotte received an offer from the Irish in February. He returned to South Bend for the first Notre Dame recruiting visit of his own in March.

247Sports slates Okwara as the No. 21 weakside defensive end in the 2016 class. Rivals ranks him as the No. 16 outside linebacker.

tjames@ndinsider.com | 574-235-6214 | Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Junior offensive lineman Ben Bredeson (right) will visit Notre Dame this weekend. (Photo courtesy of Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)