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Notre Dame 99-to-0: No. 78 Pat Coogan, sophomore center, recovering from a meniscus injury

Pat Coogan

Listed measurements: 6-foot-5 ⅛, 305 pounds.2022-23 year, eligibility: A sophomore, Coogan has all four seasons of eligibility yet remaining after not taking the field in 2021.Depth Chart: While Notre Dame’s center position is in flux, Coogan is not knocking on the door. Once fifth-year Jarrett Patterson returns to full health (torn pectoral), Irish offensive line coach Harry Hiestand will have to decide if Patterson will become a four-year starter at center or if he will move to guard and senior Zeke Correll will take over at the fulcrum. Regardless of that decision, even offensive line utility man Michael Carmody would probably play at center before Coogan in 2022.Recruiting: True centers are much like kickers in that recruiting rankings rarely give them much due, and that was no different for Coogan, a consensus three-star prospect. Nonetheless, when he chose Notre Dame, he did so at the expense of Stanford and Michigan.

The Irish never had much to worry about in Coogan’s recruitment. A lifelong Notre Dame fan, he did not need any visit to campus to make his choice, fortunate given the restrictions of recruiting during the pandemic.

Note the date on this Instagram post, right in the midst of absolute chaos around the Notre Dame program. To refresh your memory, Dec. 1 was 36 hours after Brian Kelly bolted south; that evening reports would confirm Marcus Freeman’s eventual promotion to Irish head coach.

Much like in his recruitment, Coogan’s confidence in Notre Dame never wavered.

“Between 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 (Dillan) 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.”

A springtime meniscus injury that required surgery and cost Coogan nearly all of spring’s practices has him behind the proverbial eight-ball this year. That absence forced Hiestand to take a look at Carmody at center, and Carmody’s athleticism shined. (That may become a theme for Carmody until he finds a permanent home on the Irish offensive line.)

That likely elevated Carmody to the “break glass in case of emergency” role at center rather than Coogan.

There are worse fates. Coogan is only a sophomore, after all, and the entire idea of the emergency glass is to not be broken. Even if he had not injured his knee, Coogan was probably going to spend this season fine-tuning his game under Hiestand’s watchful eye.

Coogan has all the makings of a powerful interior blocker. As he moved from tackle to guard in high school, his raw strength showed itself. The ability to deliver compact blows with severity is not all that common, and it is what makes for a worthwhile guard or center.

In other words, Coogan will demand playing time in due time. Patterson will be in the NFL next season, at which point Correll will take firm control at center, but for how long? Correll could play into 2024, though that would make him a sixth-year veteran. The universal pandemic eligibility waiver made such occurrences possible, but they remain impractical.

For roster construction purposes — even more so now that the NCAA has waived the single-year signee maximum of 25 players — Correll moving on after 2023 will be more practical. That would set up Coogan to start in his senior season with two years of eligibility remaining.

From Blake Grupe to Braden Lenzy, the offseason countdown begins anew
No. 99 Blake Grupe, kicker, Arkansas State transfer
No. 99 Rylie Mills, junior defensive lineman, a tackle now playing more at end

No. 98 Tyson Ford, early-enrolled freshman, a defensive tackle recruited as a four-star end
No. 97 Gabriel Rubio, sophomore defensive tackle, still ‘as wide as a Volkswagen’
No. 92 Aidan Keanaaina, a junior defensive tackle who tore his ACL in March
No. 91 Josh Bryan, sophomore kicker
No. 91 Aiden Gobaira, early-enrolled freshman defensive end, four-star recruit
No. 90 Alexander Ehrensberger, junior defensive end, a German project nearing completion
No. 89 Eli Raridon, incoming freshman tight end with a torn ACL
No. 88 Mitchell Evans, sophomore tight end
No. 87 Michael Mayer, junior tight end, likely All-American
No. 84 Kevin Bauman, junior tight end
No. 83 Jayden Thomas, sophomore receiver, former four-star recruit
No. 80 Cane Berrong, sophomore tight end coming off an ACL injury
No. 79 Tosh Baker, one of four young Irish offensive tackles

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