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Big Men Up Front: A Preview of Notre Dame's 2024 Offensive Line

Written by Mike Stacey|Writer|Twitter/X: @MikeStaceyIT, IG: @MikeStaceyIT

Photo by Notre Dame Athletics


Notre Dame is going to have some big shoes to fill this year, literally and figuratively. Losing Joe Alt and Blake Fisher can't be understated from a production standpoint, however, the Irish are not short on talented options to replace these great players. The question is, who will be the guy(s) who become the next great Notre Dame linemen? Will the new faces live up to the hype set by their predecessors, or will we be looking at a down/rebuilding year? Lets take a look at each position, who I think will be the starter, what kind of production I will expect from them this year, and whether or not it will be an upgrade or downgrade compared to last season. Let's dive in!





Center: Ashton Craig


This one didn't take much thought. Ashton took over as the starting center for the final three games of the season, including the Sun Bowl where he earned All Bowl Team Honors. Simply put, the 6-4, 308 lb RS Sophomore took the reigns and never looked back. I expect him to take a step forward this year and be a dominant Center. Ashton came to Notre Dame with a college-ready frame, and looks eager to take that next step. He is athletic, explosive, and by all accounts has a great work ethic. The next hurdle for him will be continuing to be able to read Defenses and be the captain on this line. I fully expect him to embrace that role, and as he develops trust and continuity with his fellow lineman, absolutely dominate the Center position.


Upgrade/Downgrade: UPGRADE


Left Guard: Rocco Spindler


If the season started today my prediction for Left Guard would be Pat Coogan. Pat was the starter last year, and he more than likely has the inside track on the starting position going into this season. However, I think Rocco has more upside and my prediction is he will surpass Coogan come fall. The RS Junior stands at 6-5 325lbs, and came to Notre Dame as a top 100 recruit according to the 247 Sports Composite rankings. Spindler has yet to make the impact that was expected from him. Part of the issue has been staying healthy. Last year, he suffered a season ending knee injury against Clemson that stunted not only his season, but his overall development. This is going to be an obstacle that Rocco is going to need to overcome if he not only wants to crack the starting lineup, but also live up to his expectations. I for one think this will be the year he begins to take a massive leap forward by becoming a starter. I expect him to have some expected growing pains early in the season, and it would be nice to see him be more explosive at the point of impact and keep his feet moving forward. I think he is going to adjust and use his great strength to his advantage and become a valuable member of this offensive line.


Upgrade/Downgrade: UPGRADE





Right Guard: Billy Schrauth


Much like Craig, Schrauth saw himself break into the starting lineup in the final three games of the season including the bowl game. Schrauth is another "big potential" type of guy, and the one who I believe is going to have the biggest breakout year on the offensive line. The RS Sophomore stands at 6'5, 306lbs. He gave us a glimpse of how special he could be last season, and this offseason it sounds like he has taken a step forward. I expect him to really flourish in his second season under Coach Rudolph's system, and will dominate defenders with his great hands and athleticism. I think Schrauth continues the proud Irish O-Line tradition and becomes another high Notre Dame draft pick once his time in South Bend is finished.


Upgrade/Downgrade: UPGRADE


Left Tackle: Charles Jagusah


Charles came to Notre Dame as a top 50 recruit, and one of the most sought after lineman in the country. Last season, as a true freshman, Jagusah became the first Notre Dame player to start on the O-Line with that designation since the man he was replacing, Joe Alt. That is no coincidence either, as I truly expect Jagusah to follow in Alt's footsteps and be a BIG time player for the Irish. He had a rough start in his first series during the Bowl game, however, he showed great resilience and mental toughness, and ended up having a strong overall performance. I think with a full offseason where he can continue to develop and get 1st team reps, Charles is going to be a force to be reckoned with this season. Expect him to keep the blind side well kept and give Leonard plenty of confidence while he is in the pocket. 6-7, 329 lbs of pure FREAK athlete. This guy should have Irish fans extremely excited. Joe Alt may be gone, but the man who is replacing him should carry on the dominant Left Tackle tradition for the Irish. My only ask of fans is to give him some leeway while he settles in. He may be a great talent, but this will still be his first full season starting as a true Sophomore.


Upgrade/Downgrade: DOWNGRADE (Who wouldn't be after Joe Alt?)


Right Tackle: Tosh Baker


This one was a little tough for me. Going into the season, I thought that Aamil Wagner might be the next starting Right Tackle, but as of now, I think Baker has the inside track and I don't predict him to lose it. Baker came into Notre Dame as a top 60 recruit but never quite found his footing. Now, as a Senior, he will get his chance. Standing at 6-8, 321 lbs, obviously Baker comes with great size which is ideal for the position. The hope here is he can tap into his raw ability and finally develop it the way he was expected to when he first arrived on campus. I do have some pause as far as high expectations, simply because he has yet to show us he can live up to his potential. I think Baker will struggle at times in pass protection, especially against speedy edge guys. For that reason, I think Baker may have some up and down games and may not be a lock to stay the starter throughout the season. I wouldn't be surprised if someone like Sullivan Absher, who has been having a great camp, ends up taking over for him at some point during the season. Only time will tell.


Upgrade/Downgrade: DOWNGRADE





I think this unit is going to be good for the Irish this year, and very solid moving forward. I do think overall, however, that they will take a step back compared to last season. At center, I think we will see an upgrade. I think the same can be said for Schrauth at Right Guard and Spindler at Left Guard. I predict we will see a drop off at both tackle positions, which is to be expected with tow of the best tackles in college football departing from the program. The good news is I think Notre Dame still has enough talent to be very good on the line. Couple that with the addition of Riley Leonard and OC Mike Denbrock, and you have enough weapons to help make up for some of the potential O-Line shortcomings compared to last year. I think overall, the offense will take a step forward as far as being consistent and effective against all opponents, not just the non-elite teams like we saw last year. Another factor that should benefit the O-line this season is it will be their second year in Rudolph's system. Continuity at the O-line position is not only critical player to player, but player to coach as well. Having another offseason to work on Rudolph's techniques and vision should only yield better individual results.


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