We're down to our last offensive lineman in Reviewing the Redshirts. Once again, here's the list of players we've covered:
We close with the highest ranked offensive line recruit who signed a LOI with Notre Dame.
OT Matt Hegarty
Hometown: Aztec, New Mexico
Height: 6'4 1/2
Rivals: No. 6 OT, No. 1 New Mexico, No. 70 nationally, 4 stars
ESPN: No. 5 OT, No. 36 ESPNU150, 4 stars, Grade: 82
Scout: No. 11 OT, 4 stars
247: No. 6 OT, No. 1 New Mexico, No. 83 nationally, 4 stars, Grade: 95
Need at Position: High
Expected Spot on 2012 Depth Chart: Third string, possible two-deep
Matt Hegarty Highlights (via 247SportsStudio)
Matt Hegarty OL MVP -Class of 2011- NUC Top Prospect-football combine (via NUCfootball)
Matt Hegarty came to Notre Dame as the highest ranked offensive line prospect in the class, outside of maybe Jordan Prestwood (who didn't sign a LOI with ND). Besides Scout, who ranked him as the 11th best tackle in the country, Hegarty was ranked as the fifth or sixth best tackle and a top 100 recruit across the board.
Brian Kelly clearly has a certain profile he looks for in offensive linemen: they need to be athletic and they need to be physical. Hegarty certainly has those qualities. In the first video above, the play that stands out to me is the very last one. Hegarty cut blocks a defender and then gets back up and runs with the running back down the field and throws another block. The kid can move. The second video is from a camp Hegarty went to as a junior. He does a great job of using his hands to reroute the defenders and funnel them away from the "quarterback." He has the tools to be a very good lineman in this offense.
Here's what Kelly had to say on National Signing Day last year:
We saw him move and felt like he was our target right away at the offensive line position. And you'll be able to see that with his athleticism... As you know, we like to move our linemen. The film that sold us is his ability to move in space and then arrive physically, square up, with good body position and finish off.
He will finish his blocks, periods. He finishes things off. You'll see it from a number of offensive linemen. The most consistent theme will be their athleticism and their ability to finish.
Though Hegarty was listed as a tackle on Notre Dame's depth chart, chances are he'll end up at center long-term. There's been rumors of Hegarty being moved inside, but it doesn't seem like anything is official yet.
But if he does end up at center, I think he'll do very well there. Notre Dame has plenty of quality tackles on the roster, and having an athletic center is very important to the offense. Braxton Cave is very good at snapping and pulling, so replacing him with someone who can move his feet will be important in 2013.
As for the 2012 season, I'm not sure if Hegarty will even make the two-deep, despite being one of Notre Dame's most talented lineman. If he stays at tackle, he could potentially be in the mix for the open right tackle position, but Christian Lombard, Tate Nichols, and Jordan Prestwood will already be vying for that spot. He could end up as a backup at one of the tackle spots if Lombard ends up moving to guard, but I don't think that's a good spot for him long-term. He would likely be fighting Prestwood for the left tackle spot when Zach Martin moves on in either 2013 or 2014, and it would be a waste for one of them to be stuck riding the bench.
But if Hegarty does switch over to center, I still don't know if he'll be the backup behind Cave. Bruce Heggie and Mike Golic Jr. both have playing experience and Hegarty will be just learning the position. But chances are good that Hegarty will then have the inside track to take over for Cave in 2012.
That would potentially leave Notre Dame with an offensive line of Martin-Watt-Hegarty-Hanratty/Lombard-Nichols/Lombard in 2013, which could be one of the best in the country. The future is certainly bright for Notre Dame along the offensive line.