Notre Dame 99-to-2: No. 67 Jimmy Byrne, offensive lineman
Listed Measurements: 6-foot-4, 294 pounds
2017-18 year, eligibility: Senior with two years of eligibility remaining including 2017
Depth chart: Byrne has yet to find traction in moving up the depth chart. Most would list him as the No. 3 option at right tackle currently. If anything, he offers a piece of depth along the line that would not cost a freshman eligibility if needed for only a handful of snaps.
Recruiting: A consensus four-star recruit, Byrne committed to the Irish in December of 2012, a full 14 months ahead of his National Signing Day. Thus, his offer sheet never developed the length of many — opposing schools knew his commitment was firm. When he committed, his top choices were Notre Dame and Ohio State. Rivals.com ranked Byrne the No. 19 player in Ohio and the No. 30 tackle in the class of 2014.
CAREER TO DATE
Byrne preserved a year of eligibility in 2014 and did not see any action in 2015 or 2016.
At the start of spring practice, Irish coach Brian Kelly indicated Byrne would be in the mix as Notre Dame looked for a starting right tackle after senior Alex Bars moved from right tackle inward to right guard.
“We feel pretty good that we want to get a competitive situation over there,” Kelly said. “[Sophomore Tommy] Kraemer, [sophomore Liam] Eichenberg, [fifth-year senior Hunter] Bivin, all those guys will get an opportunity to get some work …
“Jimmy Byrne looks really good. He’s probably had his best offseason. All those guys are going to get an opportunity to get out there and compete.”
WHAT KEITH ARNOLD PROJECTED A YEAR AGO
“I see a season of special teams duty for Byrne, an interior offensive lineman on long snaps and some time as a second-stringer or garbage time participant. One player to watch that could impact Byrne’s future is Tommy Kraemer. The Irish staff thinks [it has] a special player in Kraemer. They also really, really want to redshirt him if possible.
“Byrne’s development at this point in his career doesn’t mean his fate is sealed when it comes to playing time. It should take well into a lineman’s career to earn snaps and starts. But it’s telling that the right guard job opened up and Byrne wasn’t all that close to competing for the gig.
“It’s year seven of the Kelly era. Harry Hiestand has been recruiting like an ace, making limited offers and landing at a very, very high rate. Byrne’s a victim of circumstance — getting a starting job on the O-line is one of the hardest to earn at Notre Dame. That means Byrne is going to have to show patience, all while working his way slowly up the ladder.”
Considering Byrne never seemed to threaten the sophomore duo of Kraemer and Eichenberg for the starting right tackle job, his prospects for the coming season seem dim. In many respects, Keith was right, Byrne is a victim of circumstance. The class of 2014 included four offensive linemen, all four-star recruits: Byrne, Bars, Quenton Nelson and Sam Mustipher. Three of those four will start on the Irish line this season. Two of them started 12 games last year. Nelson has racked up two seasons of starting duty already and will be an early NFL Draft pick in the spring.
With results like that, someone gets stuck on the backside of the depth chart. In this instance, that is Byrne.
Should Notre Dame suffer a few serious injuries and then a minor one, he could find himself filling in for a few snaps. In that hypothetical instance, using Byrne while a lineman is evaluated could prevent someone such as early-enrolled freshman Robert Hainsey burning a year of eligibility during a quick three-and-out only to find out Bars’ sprained ankle is mild, at worst. Even to get to that point, though, Irish linemen would have needed to fall at a rate greater than seen in 2013. (See: Friday at 4: Offensive Line Depth)
DOWN THE ROAD
An offer of a fifth year at Notre Dame in 2018 would be an unprecedented surprise for a player yet to see playing time and likely to see minimal time this season, at best. At that point, it will be up to Byrne if he wants to pursue a graduate transfer elsewhere to enjoy one season of genuine college football action or if his career will have reached the end of its road.
As a one-time consensus four-star recruit now with four years under Hiestand’s tutelage, it is safe to assume some programs would be interested in Byrne’s services.
2017’s Notre Dame 99-to-2
Friday at 4: Goodbye A-to-Z, hello 99-to-2 (May 12)
No. 99: Jerry Tillery, defensive tackle
No. 98: Andrew Trumbetti, defensive end
No. 97: Micah Dew-Treadway, defensive tackle
No. 96: Pete Mokwuah, defensive tackle
No. 95 (theoretically): Darnell Ewell, defensive tackle
No. 94 (theoretically): Kurt Hinish, defensive tackle
No. 93: Jay Hayes, defensive end
No. 92 (theoretically): Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, defensive tackle
No. 91: Ade Ogundeji, defensive end
No. 90 (theoretically): Cole Kmet, tight end
No. 89: Brock Wright, tight end
No. 88: Javon McKinley, receiver
No. 87 (theoretically): Jafar Armstrong, receiver
No. 86: Alizé Mack, tight end
No. 85: Tyler Newsome, punter
No. 84 (theoretically): Michael Young, receiver
No. 83: Chase Claypool, receiver
No. 82: Nic Weishar, tight end
No. 81: Miles Boykin, receiver
No. 80: Durham Smythe, tight end
No. 78: Tommy Kraemer, right tackle
No. 77: Brandon Tiassum, defensive tackle
No. 75: Daniel Cage, defensive tackle
No. 74: Liam Eichenberg, right tackle
No. 73: (theoretically): Josh Lugg, offensive tackle
No. 72: Robert Hainsey, offensive tackle
No. 71: Alex Bars, offensive lineman
No. 70: Hunter Bivin, offensive lineman
No. 69: Aaron Banks, offensive lineman
No. 68: Mike McGlinchey, left tackle