Cupboard isn’t bare on Notre Dame offensive line
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — An NFL talent evaluator turned to two rivals Thursday at Notre Dame’s Pro Day and stated the obvious to knowing nods.
“I guess we don’t need to check their times in the 40,” he joked after watching the impressive workouts by All-America offensive linemen Quenton Nelson and Mike McGlinchey, who are expected to be first-round NFL draft picks.
Forming a semi-circle around Nelson and McGlinchey were scouts of the 32 teams, media from across the nation, player agents, family members and teammates of left guard Nelson and left tackle McGlinchey, whose punishing dominance last season helped the Irish average 269.3 rushing yards a game, seventh best nationally, on their way to a 10-3 finish following a 21-17 victory over LSU in the Citrus Bowl left them No. 11 in the final Associated Press 2017 poll.
Some teams can’t absorb the loss of one first-round offensive lineman. The Irish are expected to lose two. But fear not for new offensive line coach Jeff Quinn, whose cupboard is hardly bare after legendary predecessor Harry Hiestand left for a second stint with the Chicago Bears.
“Harry’s the reason I came to Notre Dame,” the 6-foot-5, 330-pound Nelson, who is expected to be the first offensive lineman taken, said after his workout. “He’s meant the world. It’s been amazing to be coached by him as a football player, as a student and as a man.”
The culture Hiestand created and the talented he hand-picked for six seasons remains. Grad center Sam Mustipher and grad right guard Alex Bars may be on some preseason All-America lists. Junior Tommy Kraemer and sophomore Robert Hainsey, who shared right tackle last season, are penciled in at right and left tackle, respectively, and Nelson’s successor is expected to be talented sophomore Josh Lugg. The five average 6-foot-5 3/4 and 307 pounds.
“I knew how good Harry was but getting around these people here just solidified that,” said the 6-8¼, 315-pound McGlinchey, who has attended a couple of Notre Dame spring workouts with Nelson and likes what he sees from the linemen under the tutelage of Quinn, who was an offensive analyst for head coach Brian Kelly last season after working for him at Grand Valley State, Central Michigan and Cincinnati. “And it seems like we’re picking up (with Quinn) where we left off. Coach Quinn has been around our program and he’s going to be a great teacher for them. I know the guys have fallen in love with him and they’re going to have a lot of success.”
Nelson and McGlinchey were among Notre Dame’s seven captains last season. Mustipher is one of three already named and Bars is bidding to become a fourth after spring practice concludes with the spring game April 21.
“Coach Quinn understands the way the standard needs to be set,” said Mustipher, who was given a voice in the selection process by Kelly. “That was awesome because we linemen understand the standard here, and it’s likely to more first-round draft picks are probably going to be added during (Quinn’s) tenure here. We wanted someone who wanted to be here to coach us.”
Hiestand’s methods and terminology remain the same under Quinn.
“He wants us to come to work each day ready to attack,” Bars said. ”(To) get after your opponent, no matter what, no matter how you are feeling, at all times.”
Nothing has changed up front for Notre Dame.
PRO DAY RESULTS
In addition to McGlinchey and Nelson, who only participated in position drills, seven former Irish players worked out Thursday. Quarterback Malik Zaire, who played his grad season last fall at Florida after transferring, returned to throw to grad tight end Durham Smythe and juniors Josh Adams (running back) and Equanimeous St. Brown (wide receiver). Also working out were defensive lineman Andrew Trumbetti and linebackers Greer Martini and Nyles Morgan.
Adams was clocked at 4.48 in the 40-yard dash, which would have ranked fifth at Indianapolis in last month’s NFL Combine, and his 6.75 time in the three-cone drill would have been the quickest and his 11.31 in the 60-yard shuttle would have been second. The 6-4, 263-pound Trumbetti, who ran a 4.8 40, did 25 reps of 225 in the weight room, which would have tied him for sixth among edge rushers. Martini had a 33-inch vertical jump, a standing broad jump of 9-11 and clocked 6.89 in the three-cone dash.