Recruiting Reset: Notre Dame flourishes on the offensive line

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

Nearly five months remain until signing day, but Harry Hiestand can already turn his recruiting focus to 2017.

In what’s become the most predictable annual recruiting narrative for the Notre Dame football team, the offensive line coach has already rounded up an impressive group of prospects in the 2016 class. Hiestand has received three verbal commitments from linemen with four-star ratings from most recruiting services.

For good measure, Hiestand also has three-star offensive tackle Dillan Gibbons committed in the 2017 class. With Notre Dame’s scholarship availability stretching with recent defections and medical disqualifications, the Irish could choose to add a fourth offensive linemen, but other positions have bigger needs.

The same can be said about tight end in the 2016 class. After missing on some top targets at the position, the Irish pushed forward by grabbing a commitment from 2017 target Brock Wright, who is rated as the top tight end in his class by both Rivals and 247Sports. Notre Dame will return four tight ends with at least 10 years of eligibility left to its 2016 roster and can afford to skip a class.

Commitments

• OT Tommy Kraemer, 6-5, 310; Cincinnati Elder: The Irish set the bar high with their first commitment in the 2016 class. Kraemer joined the fold last October and has held the title of most talented in the class since.

Kraemer has the potential to follow the legacy of Notre Dame’s top tackles in recent years. Returning to the high school program that gave the Irish former tight end Kyle Rudolph could reap benefits. Notre Dame edged out Ohio State before the Buckeyes brought home a national championship.

247Sports slates Kraemer as a five-star recruit and the No. 3 offensive tackle in the 2016 class. Rivals rates him as a four-star prospect and also third at his position.

• OT Liam Eichenberg, 6-5, 285; Cleveland St. Ignatius: Notre Dame beat Ohio State for a top offensive lineman for the second time in the same recruiting cycle when Eichenberg committed to the Irish in April. And again, Notre Dame found him at a powerhouse program where it has had previous success.

Eichenberg projects as a tackle, but has also shown the physicality to play guard if needed. 247Sports slates Eichenberg as a four-star recruit and the No. 11 offensive tackle in the 2016 class. Rivals rates him as a three-star prospect and No. 38 at his position.

• OG Parker Boudreaux, 6-4, 291; Orlando (Fla.) Bishop Moore: When Boudreaux pulled a bus to unveil his commitment this summer, the lasting moment of Notre Dame’s 2016 recruiting cycle came to life. The four-star recruit chose to continue his Catholic education rather than continue his career at Clemson, Florida, Oklahoma or one of his other options.

Boudreaux plays with an edge and can be a menace against opposing defensive linemen. He was often in the midst of some scuffles at The Opening in July. 247Sports slates Boudreaux as the No. 9 offensive guard in the 2016 class. Rivals ranks him as the No. 25 offensive tackle.

Missed targets

• OL Ben Bredeson, 6-5, 293; Hartland (Wisc.) Arrowhead: Adding Bredeson would have completed a potential four-man dream class for the Irish, but he chose to give his pledge to Michigan in June. Without the four-star recruit, Notre Dame’s 2016 class likely falls just short of the impressive Hiestand hauls in the 2013 and 2014 cycles.

Rivals ranks Bredeson as the No. 4 offensive tackle in the 2016 class. 247Sports slates him ninth at his position. Highlights.

• TE Jake Hausmann, 6-5, 230; Cincinnati Moeller: Hausmann emerged as one of Notre Dame’s first targets at the position before his junior season. The four-star prospect attended last summer’s Irish Invasion and a pair of Notre Dame games before committing to Ohio State in January.

Rivals ranks Hausmann as the No. 3 tight end in the 2016 class. 247Sports slates him seventh at his position. Highlights.

• TE Cary Angeline, 6-7, 230; Exton (Pa.) Downingtown East: Notre Dame's early momentum with Angeline was wiped away by an April visit to USC. He eventually committed to the Trojans in June.

247Sports slates Angeline as a four-star recruit and the No. 4 tight end in the 2016 class. Rivals rates him as a three-star prospect and No. 20 at this position. Highlights.

• TE Luke Farrell, 6-6, 240; Perry (Ohio) High: Notre Dame waited to offer Farrell nearly a year after he visited for the Irish Invasion in 2014. It was likely too late.

If Notre Dame won the head-to-head battle for offensive linemen in the 2016 class, Ohio State won at the tight end position. The four-star prospect joined Hausmann when he made his commitment to the Buckeyes in July.

247Sports slates Farrell as the No. 5 tight end in the 2016 class. Rivals ranks him seventh at his position. Highlights.

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

Tommy Kraemer, one of the top-rated offensive lineman recruits in the na­tion, was the first of two offensive linemen to commit to Notre Dame in the 2016 signing class. (Photo Courtesy of the Cincinnati Enquirer)

Part four in a seven-part series breaking down where Notre Dame stands at each position group in the 2016 recruiting class.

Part one: Quarterbacks

Part two: Running backs

Part three: Wide receivers