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Notre Dame 99-to-0: No. 59 Aamil Wagner, sophomore offensive tackle

Aamil Wagner Notre Dame

Listed measurements: 6-foot-6, 278 pounds.
2023-24 year, eligibility: A sophomore, Wagner has all four seasons of eligibility remaining.
Depth Chart: Wagner could enter the season as the named backup to junior right tackle Blake Fisher, though he may have preseason competition from senior Michael Carmody.Recruiting: Few recruits announce their commitment with no one knowing about it beforehand. Recruiting websites bluntly hint at a coming commitment or coaches tease a pending pledge on social media. At the least, the honored school knows good news is coming before a scheduled announcement.

And then there was Wagner, shocking even the Notre Dame coaching staff when he did not choose Kentucky in a November of 2021 commitment. The No. 12 tackle in the class of 2022 and the No. 126 overall prospect, per, Wagner turned down the Wildcats even though his brother is a graduate assistant with them.

Furthermore, Wagner turned down offers from Maryland, Penn State and Ohio State, notable given he is an Ohio native, specifically coming from Wayne High School in Huber Heights, the alma mater of Irish head coach Marcus Freeman and cornerbacks coach Mike Mickens.

Wagner did not play in 2022.

Wagner is a Sour Punch All-Star. Yes, you read that correctly. Yes, that’s referencing the candy. No, this Twitter post gives no indication of how this came to be, but that is some great swag.

More importantly, Sour Punch contributed $5,000 to Homefull, a Dayton, Ohio-based organization working to end homelessness via housing and advocacy.

This is as good as NIL usage gets, not only fun and stylish but also helping those who need it.

Back in April, Notre Dame offensive line coach Joe Rudolph off-handedly mentioned Wagner could be one of the five best offensive linemen this season, suggesting Wagner would crack the starting lineup. That was probably a bit generous, given sophomore Billy Schrauth looks like the starter at left guard and fifth-year Andrew Kristofic at right guard, but it was a compliment to Wagner, nonetheless.

“Notre Dame ripped through so many left tackles in 2021, it feels foolhardy to now say it will not need Wagner in 2022, but the former shock created the latter certainty. The Irish know they have viable tackles in (Joe) Alt, (Tosh) Baker, junior Michael Carmody and sophomore Blake Fisher. Furthermore, sixth-year right guard Josh Lugg has a year of starting experience at tackle, and fifth-year center Jarrett Patterson was originally recruited as a tackle.

“Time sidelined will serve Wagner well. As strong as he is, he needs to add weight. A 6-foot-6 frame holding 260 pounds is simply not going to hold up at this level of football. …

“But note, Wagner is strong. He just won the Division 1 shot put title in Ohio, heaving the put 64 feet and one inch. That is a 12-pound weight thrown more than 20 yards. Second place threw his shot put 58 feet and 7 ¼ inches.

“Even harder to believe, Wagner has been throwing for only two years, quickly picking up a skill that is highly dependent on picture-perfect form.

“Wagner has power.

“With a basketball background, he also has quick feet.

“All of which is to say, Wagner will be looked at as a future left tackle for the Irish, a designation that comes with it first-round draft thoughts. Wagner will have to wait until at least 2024 to get his shot at that role, but as long as that possibility exists, he will have plenty to work toward.

“In his case, that work will involve plenty of weight training and massive plates of food. Bulking up from 260 to 305 will take some time, years even, to do it right.”

Notre Dame knows who its third tackle is. Senior Tosh Baker will back up at least junior Joe Alt at left tackle, and Baker could be the true gameday backup for Fisher, as well. That latter thought will be a bit conceptual from outside of the program until needed to be proven, something the Irish obviously hope will not need to be borne out on a Saturday.

If Wagner is not truly Fisher’s No. 2, he is likely to be the fourth Notre Dame tackle overall.

There may be little seen from that, a nod in name only, but injuries happen, particularly along the offensive line. The Irish will have Wagner at the ready.

The beauty of being Notre Dame’s No. 4 tackle in 2023 is the Irish may need to replace the top-two tackles in 2024. Alt will be a first-round draft pick next spring. Fisher’s draft stock will be a season-long curiosity.

Even if only Alt is gone, Wagner will get every chance to compete with Baker for that starting role. Baker’s experience is in age only, starting for just a blip in 2021 while Notre Dame ripped through a rash of left-tackle injuries. But he does have a distinct tangible advantage over Wagner: Baker weighs 32 pounds more.

That matters along the offensive line.

Wagner arrived in South Bend about 12 months ago at 260 pounds. As of March, he weighed 278. That is strong progress for only nine months. Adding good, productive weight is hard work. Some players have found it outright tiring; the average person does not realize the extensive effort needed to eat 3,500 calories each day, what many of these players would need to just maintain weight, let alone the 4,000 or 4,500 calories needed each day to constructively add weight.

If Wagner can get to 290 pounds by next spring, then 295 may be possible by the 2024 season, helping even that theoretical competition with Baker.

The summer countdown begins anew, Rylie Mills to Deion Colzie
No. 99 Rylie Mills, senior defensive tackle, moving back inside from end
No. 98 Devan Houstan, early-enrolled four-star defensive tackle
No. 97 Gabriel Rubio, junior defensive tackle, one of three Irish DTs with notable experience
No. 95 Tyson Ford, sophomore defensive tackle, up 30 pounds from a year ago
No. 93 Armel Mukam, incoming freshman defensive end, former Stanford commit
No. 92 Aidan Keanaaina, a senior defensive tackle now ‘fully healthy’ after a 2022 torn ACL
No. 91 Aiden Gobaira, sophomore defensive end, former four-star recruit
No. 88 Mitchell Evans, the next starter at ‘TE U’
No. 87 Cooper Flanagan, incoming freshman tight end, four-star recruit
No. 84 Kevin Bauman, senior tight end coming off a torn ACL
No. 83 Jayden Thomas, junior receiver, probable No. 1 target in 2023
No. 79 Tosh Baker, senior tackle, again a backup but next year ...
No. 78 Pat Coogan, junior interior offensive lineman
No. 77 Ty Chan, sophomore offensive tackle, former four-star recruit
No. 76 Joe Alt, first-team All-American left tackle
No. 75 Sullivan Absher, incoming freshman offensive lineman
No. 74 Billy Schrauth, sophomore left guard, likely starter
No. 73 Andrew Kristofic, fifth-year right guard, likely starter
No. 72 Sam Pendelton, early-enrolled freshman offensive lineman
No. 70 Ashton Craig, sophomore interior offensive lineman
No. 68 Michael Carmody, senior offensive lineman
No. 65 Michael Vinson, sixth-year long snapper, four-year starter
No. 64 Joe Otting, incoming freshman offensive lineman, four-star recruit
No. 56 Charles Jagusah, incoming freshman offensive lineman, four-star recruit
No. 55 Chris Terek, incoming freshman offensive lineman, four-star recruit
No. 51 Boubacar Traore, incoming freshman defensive end, four-star recruit
No. 17 Brenan Vernon, incoming freshman defensive end, four-star recruit
No. 13 Holden Staes, sophomore tight end, up 20 pounds in a year
No. 12 Penn State RB transfer Devyn Ford gives Notre Dame newly-needed backfield depth, experience
No. 4 Rhode Island transfer safety Antonio Carter gives Notre Dame desperately needed backline depth

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