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Notre Dame 99-to-0: No. 77 Quinn Carroll, junior offensive lineman

Quinn Carroll

Listed measurements: 6-foot-6 ⅜, 306 pounds.2021-22 year, eligibility: By the letter of the law, Carroll has four seasons of eligibility remaining, though he is a junior. Such is the coming roster crunch across college football in 2022, 2023 and 2024.Depth Chart: Notre Dame has not necessarily figured out its starting offensive line, but Carroll was not part of that discussion this spring. He worked primarily at tackle, though, and a backup role could be within his grasp at right tackle, behind fifth-year Josh Lugg.Recruiting: A consensus four-star prospect, Carroll chose the Irish over his hometown Minnesota, with Wisconsin, Ohio State, Penn State and Virginia Tech also in consideration as he made his decision on the local news. Carroll’s father played for the Gophers, while his brother did so with the Hokies.

Carroll appeared in three blowouts in 2020, never seeing a competitive moment.

An ACL torn in August sidelined him in 2019, keeping Carroll from even playing in the four games allowed without burning a season of eligibility.

Pay the man, Bass Pro Shops. He would probably be thrilled with simple store credit, given he comes from the Land of 10,000 Lakes and now plays for a school mistakenly named after one.

It is not inherently a knock on Carroll that he is not in the starting conversation while two early-enrolled freshmen may be along Notre Dame’s offensive line. Blake Fisher and Rocco Spindler have played the last few years, while Carroll’s torn ACL rendered much, if not all, of his freshman year lost before the coronavirus pandemic turned his sophomore season upside down, including wiping out what could have been a valuable spring.

Carroll may have gotten in some weight room work through those stretches, but the on-field experiences have been absent, through no fault of his own. Those moments are what Carroll needs more of, beginning this past spring.

“He’s gotten really strong, physically,” Irish head coach Brian Kelly said in late April. “The area he has to continue to develop is the picking up of movement ... where he’s struggled at times.

“We’ve moved him around, too, to be fair with him. I really like his progress in the weight room. He’s gotten really strong. Now the next level is going out there when we got movement, linebackers moving, and being able to pick up a lot of that movement — continue to work on his agility and change of direction. Those are the areas he has to focus on.”

WHAT WAS SAID TWO YEARS AGO“Both (Robert) Hainsey and (Liam) Eichenberg have two years of eligibility remaining, and it is reasonable to think both will hold their positions through 2020. At that point, though, both starting tackle positions should be up for grabs, with Carroll a leading contender along with (Aaron) Banks.

“As said in December (of 2018), designating Carroll as the heir apparent to the Irish tradition at left tackle is hasty, but it cannot be denied he will have that opportunity.”

Carroll obviously has long wanted to play, but it would have been reasonable for him to expect all along that 2021 would be another season as a reserve. Aaron Banks’ excellent last few seasons made heading to the NFL the right decision, as evidenced by his second-round selection, but up until a few games into the 2020 season, Banks looked to be a piece of Notre Dame’s offensive line this year, as well. And in that situation, Banks would likely have moved out to tackle from guard, forming a book-end duo with Lugg or possibly senior Jarrett Patterson.

Substituting early-enrolled freshman Blake Fisher or perhaps sophomore Tosh Baker for Banks in that conversation may change the optics of Carroll’s standing, but it does not change the practical aspects of it. Carroll will likely spend 2021 as the backup to a veteran in Lugg, just as was long expected.

For Irish concerns, that is not a bad position to be in. If Lugg’s back acts up again, a highly-touted upperclassman serving as a spot starter is hardly something to complain about.

DOWN THE ROADThat timing suggests Carroll remains on track to be a Notre Dame starting tackle. The universal pandemic eligibility waiver may throw that into some doubt, but Lugg figures to try his hand at the next level rather than take a sixth year in 2022. At that point, Carroll’s competition for the open tackle gig will be classmate Andrew Kristofic and the runner-up in the Fisher vs. Baker duel.

That is by no means mild competition, but it sets up Carroll for a typical timeline for an offensive lineman. A couple years as an Irish starting tackle has yielded bigger and better things for just about every such player the last half dozen years. While all the left tackles under Kelly have ended up first-round picks until Liam Eichenberg’s second-round selection, the right tackles have enjoyed their own run of success, as well. Mike McGlinchey started there in 2015, Alex Bars in 2016, Tommy Kraemer in 2017 and Robert Hainsey the last three seasons. Every one of them is in the NFL now, too.

Let’s try this again
No. 99 Rylie Mills, sophomore defensive tackle
No. 98 Alexander Ehrensberger, sophomore defensive end
No. 97 Gabriel Rubio, early-enrolled freshman defensive tackle the size of a Volkswagen
No. 95 Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, fifth-year defensive tackle-turned-end
No. 92 Aidan Keanaaina, sophomore defensive tackle
No. 88 Mitchell Evans, early-enrolled freshman tight end, a former high school quarterback
No. 87 Michael Mayer, star sophomore tight end and lead offensive weapon
No. 85 George Takacs, senior tight end, ‘152 years old’
No. 84 Kevin Bauman, sophomore tight end
No. 82 Xavier Watts, sophomore receiver
No. 81 Jay Brunelle, speedy sophomore receiver
No. 80 Cane Berrong, early-enrolled freshman tight end
No. 79 Tosh Baker, sophomore offensive tackle
No. 78 Pat Coogan, incoming freshman center

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