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Notre Dame 99-to-0: No. 78 Pat Coogan, incoming freshman center

Pat Coogan

Listed measurements: 6-foot-4, 290 pounds.2021-22 year, eligibility: The one class on Notre Dame’s roster with clear eligibility parameters, as an incoming freshman Coogan has four seasons of eligibility remaining.Depth Chart: Coogan may be the No. 2 Irish center as far as the distributed depth chart goes, thanks to Dillan Gibbons’ transfer to Florida State, but if Notre Dame needs a backup center, it is more likely to move a veteran from elsewhere on the offensive line and keep Coogan in the weight room.Recruiting: The consensus three-star prospect chose Notre Dame over Stanford and Michigan, as well as Ohio State, Oklahoma and LSU, not that it was that stiff of a competition. Coogan is a lifelong Irish fan; his decision was always obvious. That fandom served a particular purpose in this particular recruiting cycle, as Coogan never had a chance to take an official visit to campus due to the coronavirus pandemic. Notre Dame offered him a scholarship within the first few weeks of the societal shift, and Coogan committed three weeks later, still largely quarantined.

WHY NO. 78?
Coogan may not end up in the same digits he wore in high school, but for this exercise, there is no reason to speculate further than that. He wore No. 78 in high school and the number is available in South Bend.

Many aspects of impending name, image and likeness legislation remain unclear simply due to so many different entities piecemeal trying to get ahead of the curve (state legislatures, schools, basically everyone except the NCAA). Add in that confusion with broader ignorance of their details due to the unprecedented nature of these changes, and questions remain. One such wondering, would anything stop a high schooler from capitalizing on his name, image and likeness as he signs his National Letter of Intent? What about right from when he verbally commits?

Could Coogan have ended up elsewhere if the recruiting cycle had not so completely coincided with the pandemic and he had visited other campuses? Perhaps, but exceedingly unlikely.

“Being from the Chicagoland area, there’s a big Notre Dame pull,” Coogan told Blue & Gold Illustrated when he committed in April of 2020. “My family has always been a Notre Dame family. On any given Saturday, we’ll turn on the Notre Dame game instead of any other team and watch them.”

WHAT WAS SAID WHEN COOGAN SIGNED“Irish offensive line coach Jeff Quinn will have plenty to cover with Coogan regarding footwork and timing, but he will also have time to do it, as Coogan will not need to devote as much time to strength work as a usual freshman may. He is already a powerful blocker, particularly thanks to his low level of attack.”

Coogan began his high school career at tackle before moving to some physical play at guard. It is expected he will continue moving inward at the next level, beginning at center this summer. And on paper, Notre Dame desperately needs a center.

Gibbons’ transfer made sense for him; in his final season (or two) of college, perpetual backup work was not what Gibbons envisioned. Florida State will give him a chance at starting. But from an Irish viewpoint, Gibbons’ transfer means Notre Dame has no clear backup to junior Zeke Correll at the pivot.

Coogan very well may end up listed as Correll’s backup on the official Irish depth chart. Not to knock those depth charts, but it will be a designation on paper only. If Correll is unable to play at any point, Notre Dame will turn to either senior Jarrett Patterson or fifth-year Josh Lugg, both of whom have playing experience at center.

Coogan will spend the season working in the weight room more than anywhere else, no matter what that press box placard says.

DOWN THE ROADBetween his commitment last April and playing a senior season this spring, Coogan already improved his footwork. Along with clear size, Coogan has some foundational aspects that suggest his career is one to be high on in the long-term.

At center, the long-term should be emphasized. Correll has just as many seasons of eligibility remaining as Coogan does, despite entering his junior year. Granted, the likelihood of Coogan preserving a season of eligibility in 2021 will offset those ticking clocks by a year, but Coogan will have time to wait — make that, time to develop, regardless.

As is the case for nearly every freshman offensive linemen — early enrollees Blake Fisher and Rocco Spindler perhaps the exceptions as well as the driving reasons behind Gibbons’ transfer — Coogan needs that time to add strength. Logic suggests Correll will not use all four years of remaining eligibility: Sixth years are meant for players who need them due to lost chances, not for elongating football lifespans. By 2023 or 2024, Coogan should have that needed strength.

Given the Irish currently need Coogan at center to simply fill out a depth chart, it is safe to presume he will have first crack at the real thing when Correll’s tenure is up.

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

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