Notre Dame 99-to-2: No. 69 Aaron Banks, offensive tackle
Listed Measurements: 6-foot-5 ¾, 320 pounds
2018-19 year, eligibility: Sophomore with four seasons of eligibility remaining, including 2018.
Depth chart: Banks projects as a tackle and, thus, serves as the backup to sophomore Robert Hainsey at right tackle.
Recruiting: A consensus four-star recruit, Banks enrolled early after choosing Notre Dame over Michigan, Oregon and UCLA, among a litany of other notable offers. Rated the No. 13 tackle in the class, per rivals.com, and the No. 121 recruit in the country, Banks committed less than a month after an official visit to Michigan.
CAREER TO DATE
Banks saw no action his freshman season, preserving a season of eligibility.
If one is to believe the Irish coaching staff and the offensive line truly does have nearly two full units of starter-quality options, then it is the likes of Banks that tips those numbers from typical to an abundance of talent.
“We have about eight guys right now that we can play winning football, and Aaron Banks had his best week,” offensive coordinator Chip Long said with two weeks of spring practice remaining. “Most places I’ve been, you might have six or 5.5 guys. It’s nice to have this depth. We just have to get them more mature up front, and that just comes with time. There’s good talent there.”
Offensive line coach Jeff Quinn pointed to Banks and classmate Dillan Gibbons as the types of players who would fill in if needed, but also still need a bit of development.
“All those guys are in the mix,” Quinn said in mid-April. “As their development continues to improve, their opportunities will come.”
WHAT WAS PROJECTED A YEAR AGO
“In 2018, Notre Dame will need to fill at least two starting positions — left tackle and left guard — and will be without its current offensive line utility knife in fifth-year Hunter Bivin. One of the [then-] sophomore duo of Tommy Kraemer and Liam Eichenberg is likely to fill that tackle position, though Banks and Hainsey will undoubtedly be given fair shots at it. The left guard slot, though, is a better possibility for Banks.
“If he shows the necessary aggressiveness, he could slot in there until a day comes when the Irish need a tackle. At that point, as a veteran, Banks very well may be the ideal choice. For that matter, if he were to excel for a season at guard and, as an example, Kraemer struggled at tackle, a swap could occur be it midseason or in the subsequent offseason.
“One way or another, opportunity will be there for Banks entering the 2018 season. Even if Hainsey beats him out for that chance …”
The inaccuracies to that year-old projection come from not anticipating Hainsey’s rise to multiple-game starter as a freshman. That reduced the openings this offseason to just one. In the end, both Kraemer and Eichenberg made the cut, leaving Banks as an odd-man out.
Backing up Hainsey, though, could prove crucial. If Hainsey were to suffer so much as a sprained ankle, Notre Dame would very much hope a capable substitute could allow Kraemer to remain at right guard rather than move back to his position of a year ago. Kraemer is simply that much more of a natural fit at guard.
It is difficult to envision any other scenario in which Banks sees competitive action this season, but that is the natural effect of returning four offensive line starters.
DOWN THE ROAD
The obvious, and true, summary of these possibilities is Banks will be at least considered to fill the hole left by fifth-year left guard Alex Bars following this season. Banks will have some competition in that pursuit from Gibbons, classmate Josh Lugg and a few of the incoming freshmen.
Banks could make things interesting by excelling in all regards in 2018 while Eichenberg perhaps struggles as a first-time starter. That would create a chance for a position competition next spring at tackle, where Banks is one of the clearer likelihoods on the Irish roster.
NOTRE DAME 99-to-2:
No. 99 Jerry Tillery, defensive tackle, senior
No. 97 Micah Dew-Treadway, defensive tackle, senior
No. 95 Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, defensive tackle, sophomore
No. 94 Darnell Ewell, defensive tackle, sophomore
No. 93 (theoretically) Ja’Mion Franklin, defensive tackle, incoming freshman
No. 91 Ade Ogundeji, defensive end, junior
No. 90 (theoretically) Tommy Tremble, tight end, incoming freshman
No. 89 Brock Wright, tight end, sophomore
No. 88 Javon McKinley, receiver, junior
No. 87 Michael Young, receiver, sophomore
No. 86 Alizé Mack, tight end, senior
No. 85 George Takacs, tight end, early-enrolled freshman
No. 85 Tyler Newsome, punter and captain, fifth-year senior
No. 84 Cole Kmet, tight end, sophomore
No. 83 Chase Claypool, receiver, junior
No. 82 Nic Weishar, tight end, fifth-year senior
No. 81 Miles Boykin, receiver, senior
No. 80 Micah Jones, receiver, early-enrolled freshman
No. 79 (theoretically) Cole Mabry, offensive tackle, incoming freshman
No. 78 Tommy Kraemer, right guard, junior
No. 77 (theoretically) Jarrett Patterson, offensive tackle, incoming freshman
No. 76 Dillan Gibbons, offensive lineman, sophomore
No. 75 Josh Lugg, offensive lineman, sophomore
No. 74 Liam Eichenberg, starting left tackle, junior
No. 73 (theoretically) Luke Jones, offensive lineman, incoming freshman
No. 72 Robert Hainsey, right tackle, sophomore
No. 71 Alex Bars, left guard and captain, fifth-year senior
No. 70 (theoretically) John Dirksen, offensive lineman, incoming freshman
No. 11 Freddy Canteen, receiver, outgoing transfer
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