Notre Dame 99-to-0: No. 72 Sam Pendleton, early-enrolled freshman offensive lineman
Listed measurements: 6-foot-4 ⅛, 300 pounds
2023-24 year, eligibility: An early-enrolled freshman, Pendleton has all four seasons of eligibility remaining.Depth Chart: Zeke Correll has had a long-term stranglehold on the center position at Notre Dame since he arrived in 2019. He had to wait behind and then work around Jarrett Patterson, but that aside, no one arriving in South Bend has had a genuine chance at playing center since Correll’s first days on campus. Hence, junior Pat Coogan dabbled at guard this spring. All that said, Pendleton is far enough behind Correll in years that he could have reason to genuinely focus on working at center, regardless of if he is on the second string or the third string this season.
Nonetheless, there will be some ambiguity in Pendleton’s long-term fit, so he is likely to work at both guard and center in the preseason on his way to the scout team.
Recruiting: The No. 17 offensive guard in the class of 2023, per rivals.com, Pendleton looked past offers from Michigan, Florida and North Carolina State, along with Clemson, when he chose Notre Dame.
WHAT WAS SAID WHEN PENDLETON SIGNED IN DECEMBER
“Pendleton has power in his arms, helping compensate for adequate footwork that (former Irish offensive line coach Harry) Hiestand will need to improve upon no matter where Pendleton aligns. He does keep his feet moving through an entire play, though, a key for many young linemen.
“He has built his reputation against inferior competition, no fault of his own, so there may be an adjustment period at the next level.”
NAME, IMAGE, LIKENESS
There may not be a more honorable usage of NIL rights than the entire Irish offensive line enjoying piles of BBQ.
In a moment of authenticity, Pendleton acknowledged the whiplash of arriving on campus in mid-January and his legendary position coach retiring less than a month later.
“It definitely takes a toll on you,” Pendleton said in March. “But it’s nothing that’s going to deter me away from this place.
“I didn’t come here to play for a coach. I came to play for Notre Dame, and I still stand by that today.”
Fortunately for Pendleton, he had a previous relationship with new offensive line coach Joe Rudolph after he recruited Pendleton while still at Virginia Tech.
“We just picked up right where we left off, and he’s been fantastic,” Pendleton said. “He’s very intentional about what he does. It’s not like I got a coach who doesn’t know anything about me. I think that relationship has aided what we have going now.”
For these next few paragraphs, let’s grant the thought that Pendleton could work at center throughout the preseason. And then if he managed to impress, how close would he be to playing time?
Not close. It would take a resoundingly impressive preseason to elevate Pendleton into a genuine Saturday consideration, a preseason so impressive as to invalidate the most flattering of analogies attempted now.
Otherwise, a Correll injury would push senior Michael Carmody to center or perhaps fifth-year right guard Andrew Kristofic. Both have worked at center in past practices to create the semblance of depth behind Correll, and both obviously have experience as an advantage over Pendleton. To some extent, the same could be said for Coogan.
That should all keep Pendleton on the scout team for 2023, working on his footwork more than his weekly game plan studies.
DOWN THE ROAD
It should be emphasized more often: Notre Dame’s offensive line could turn over quite a bit by 2024. Junior left tackle Joe Alt is a surefire first-round draft pick. It is not inconceivable junior right tackle Blake Fisher plays himself into the first round, as well. Both Kristofic and Correll have eligibility through 2024, but no player taking a sixth year should be assumed until it is publicly announced.
If they both opt to head elsewhere, suddenly the Irish could need four new starters along the offensive line. And even if they don’t, that turnover will be a reality by 2025.
Pendleton should be in the mix for one of those two interior positions.
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