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Howard Cross
Brendan McAlinden

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This Guy Plays Notre Dame Football: #56 Howard Cross III, Defensive Line

A stout contributor on the line - can he take the next step?

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish have a roster full of players, and we want to talk about them all. One Foot Down’s player profile series will, once again, take a look at every single one of them, and hopefully we all learn a little bit more about these guys, and Notre Dame’s chances for the upcoming 2021 season.

#56 Howard Cross III, Defensive Line

A product of St. Joseph Regional in Montvale, NJ, Cross enrolled at Notre Dame as part of the 2019 recruiting class. A four-star recruit and the #337 overall prospect in the country, he earned Gatorade Player of the Year honors for New Jersey as well as’s Player of the Year Award in his senior season. Although recruited as a strong-side defensive end, Cross was quickly moved inside to tackle, where he earned praise from scouts and coaches for his leverage, quickness, and ability to gain penetration.

Cross saw relatively significant action for a player who preserved his redshirt in 2019. He racked up seven tackles in four games, with a notable 5-tackle performance against the Navy Midshipmen. He earned a more consistent role in the rotation in 2020, seeing action in every game and totaling thirteen tackles (five solo). While he never lit up the stat sheet, he brought a consistent intensity to the game and his length and caused disruption on the interior. He came within inches of earning his first career sack against the Boston College Eagles, but Phil Jurkovec was able to fall forward ahead of the line of scrimmage to make it a mere tackle.

NCAA Football: Notre Dame at Boston College Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

The Restaurant That Fits

Jersey Mike’s

I’m fairly certain I’ve only had one Jersey Mike’s sub in my life, but I’m choosing it for Cross because of the image the name conjures: a hard-working, blue-collar attitude that brings intensity with it every day. Cross brings that mentality with him to the game, and he’s from Jersey so here you go.

2021 Outlook

Cross became a regular backup to Kurt Hinish in 2020, and will likely maintain the same role in 2021 before competing for a starting spot in the years to follow. Whether Cross or Jacob Lacey sees the field more behind Hinish will depend on Lacey’s development and what the Irish need based on the situation. Based on what we know of their respective abilities, Cross may specialize in pass-first situations where his length and ability to gain penetration will aid the rush while Lacey sees more every-down action, but we will have to wait for fall camp and game action to find out.

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