Notre Dame 99-to-0: No. 70 Ashton Craig, sophomore interior offensive lineman
Listed measurements: 6-foot-4 ¼, 296 pounds.
2023-24 year, eligibility: A sophomore, Craig has all four seasons of eligibility remaining.
Depth Chart: Craig spent the spring working at center, though he is unlikely to crack either the theoretical two-deep — behind fifth-year Zeke Correll and junior Pat Coogan — or the practical two-deep — in which senior Michael Carmody may insert himself.Recruiting: After a 15-month dead period indued by the pandemic, one of the first recruiting moments Notre Dame could lean into was an on-campus camp, and Craig took that chance to impress. The Irish subsequently offered the consensus three-star a scholarship. Less than two weeks later, he committed to Notre Dame rather than head to Nebraska, Michigan, Vanderbilt or Cincinnati.
CAREER TO DATE
Craig did not play in 2022.
NAME, IMAGE, LIKENESS
It is somewhat a marvel that the Irish lost only one scholarship offensive lineman to the transfer market since last season. (Caleb Johnson headed to SMU.) Notre Dame will have 17 scholarship offensive linemen on the roster in preseason practices and had 13 on hand in spring practices..
On top of that, none of them are already sidelined for the year.
It is a bounty, both in quantity and quality, which stands out all the more given the dearth of quality offensive linemen generally available on the transfer market.
Thus, when new Irish offensive line coach Joe Rudolph singled out junior guard Rocco Spindler and Craig as the two linemen most improving this spring, he was pulling names from a hefty pile of options.
“From where [Spindler] started to where he is now, he and Ashton Craig have probably made the most growth,” Rudolph said in mid-April. “That’s been really cool to see, the guys’ earning their own confidence and getting there.”
WHAT WAS PROJECTED A YEAR AGO
“Enjoy the food, enjoy the gameday atmosphere (at home games only), get used to college life, and lift a lot of weights.
“That’s all that is ahead of Craig this season. A high school right tackle — and defensive end — he has plenty to learn as he moves into the interior, so there is no version of this season where Notre Dame turns to him already. Craig not only has to put on weight, but he also has to learn his new position.”
The flip side of that extensive depth chart is at least seven players will be on the outside of the two-deep, and most of them will be on the scout team. Even as the Irish pull in five freshmen, including early-enrolled Sam Pendleton, Craig may be among those on the scout team.
That is in part because he played offensive tackle and defensive end in high school. He solidified himself on the interior of the line last year and arrived with impressive pass-blocking skills, giving him a solid base to build upon in the position change. Continuing that progression for another season will serve both him and Notre Dame well in 2024 and beyond.
Even if Craig dodges the scout team and works with the offensive second- or third-string, those priorities will remain unchanged.
DOWN THE ROAD
Correll has eligibility through 2024, but it should not be assumed he will use it. The fifth-year veteran may simply decide a sixth year in South Bend is not something he is interested in, a la defensive end Justin Ademilola this past offseason.
Whenever Correll departs, Craig will be in the mix to be the next Irish center, not a legacy as heralded as the ones at left tackle or tight end, but a notable one, nonetheless. In the nine years before 2022 (Correll’s first year as a starting center), the three season-opening starting centers were Jarrett Patterson (2019-21), Sam Mustipher (2016-18) and Nick Martin (2013-15). They ended up as a sixth-round draft pick, a multi-year NFL starter and a second-round pick, respectively. Correll seems on pace to join that listing to some degree, presumably making it 11 years with centers bound for bigger things.
NOTRE DAME 99-TO-0
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. 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. 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