Four-star OL Zeke Correll adds to Notre Dame's impressive 2019 O-line haul
Zeke Correll is not Quenton Nelson.
At this stage in the 6-foot-4, 280-pound 2019 offensive lineman’s football career, those kind of expectations would be unfair.
But … there are similarities.
Like, for example, the fact that the consensus four-star offensive lineman just verbally committed to Notre Dame.
“I am 100% committed to ... THE UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME!!! GO IRISH!!” Correll tweeted on Monday, a day after returning from his official visit in South Bend.
“He kind of looks like Quenton when Quenton came out of high school in New Jersey,” said CBS Sports Network recruiting analyst Tom Lemming. “He’s got a ferocious way of playing, very aggressive. He plays tackle but I think he could be a guard at Notre Dame. He’s super strong, has a great use of hands, technically really sound.
“He’s been well-coached, but he’s a big, aggressive guy and a mauler-type guy like Quenton was out of high school. So he’s another four-plus (star) guy and one of the premier offensive linemen in the country.”
If that last part sounds familiar, it’s because Notre Dame already has four offensive line commits in its 2019 class, and three of them — Quinn Carroll, John Olmstead and the aforementioned Correll — are consensus four-star prospects. Add rising three-star tackle Andrew Kristofic to the mix, and the Irish boast a potentially dominant quartet.
“This is the best (offensive line) group in the country right now and maybe the best group Notre Dame has had in 20, 30 years,” Lemming said. “I can’t remember a better O-line group (at ND), and I don’t think they’re done.”
A better group than Nelson, Sam Mustipher and Alex Bars in 2014? Time will tell, but for now, first-year Irish offensive line coach Jeff Quinn is certainly satisfied with the possibilities. Correll, for one, chose Notre Dame over in-state power Ohio State, as well as Clemson, Stanford, Michigan, Nebraska, Penn State, Wisconsin and many more. He reached a decision after visiting ND three times already in 2018, plus a stop for the dominant 35-14 Irish victory over NC State last fall.
In that game, Notre Dame rushed for 318 yards, 5.9 yards per carry and two touchdowns against one of the country’s premier rushing defenses.
The 2019 offensive line crop could be primed to replicate those results for years to come.
“I do think this is going to be a terrific group,” Lemming said. “Everyone they’ve brought in is big-time. They’re guys that everyone seemed to want. They’re all athletic, but what I like most about them is they’re all competitive, tough guys.
“They’re all All-America types.”
With 14 verbal commits, Notre Dame’s 2019 class is currently ranked third nationally by 247Sports and sixth by Rivals. That’s despite the fact that the Irish have yet to add an offensive skill player to their class.
In the wake of heralded assistant Harry Hiestand’s departure, There’s no telling how Quinn’s unit will fare in his first game as Notre Dame’s offensive line coach, against Michigan on Sept. 1.
But if his coaching is anything like his recent recruiting, Hiestand and Nelson’s departures won’t puncture the production of Notre Dame’s retooled offensive line.
“Quinn’s an aggressive recruiter,” Lemming said. “He’s got years of experience. I knew he was going to do well. I talked to him back when I was in Florida in January, and I remember we had a long talk and his philosophy is similar to Harry’s, which is to make it look like a brotherhood.
“They’re like a band of brothers. That’s what he’s doing with the guys that are already there and this great group that’s coming in next year.”