Notre Dame 99-to-2: No. 73 (theoretically) Josh Lugg, offensive tackle
Listed Measurements: 6-foot-6, 280 pounds
2017-18 year, eligibility: Incoming freshman with four years of eligibility remaining
Depth chart: Lugg’s length makes him an ideal left tackle candidate in years to come. With that in mind, he joins a roster featuring fifth-year senior and early-round NFL Draft prospect Mike McGlinchey who is so entrenched, Notre Dame does not have a specific left tackle backup. Offensive line coach Harry Hiestand has indicated fifth-year lineman Hunter Bivin would be called upon if spot duty is needed. If a longer-term fix were required, Robert Hainsey did enroll early, but one of the sophomore duo — Tommy Kraemer and Liam Eichenberg — would be a more likely solution, with the other remaining at right tackle.
Recruiting: A consensus four-star recruit, Lugg’s dedicated commitment helped hold the Irish class together amidst coaching staff turnover. The U.S. Army All-American was rated the No. 22 tackle prospect in the country and No. 6 player in Pennsylvania by rivals.com.
When discussing the four offensive linemen in the class of 2017 on National Signing Day, Irish coach Brian Kelly framed their arrival in terms of who is already around.
“If you take a look at the recruiting on the offensive line, Josh Lugg, Aaron Banks, Dillan Gibbons, Robert Hainsey, these are guys that are rated as high as any offensive linemen in the country,” Kelly said. “But they’re coming into a situation where we have, for example, on our left side with [senior guard] Quenton Nelson and Mike McGlinchey, two guys that are arguably the best at their position in the country.
“We have very, very good offensive linemen coming in, but we’ve got talented players at that position with experience across the board. We feel great about the depth that we’ve developed at that position.”
Kelly also praised Lugg along with defensive lineman Kurt Hinish and linebacker David Adams, all three from the Pittsburgh area, for helping keep the Notre Dame commitments united.
“All those guys were kind of together at once,” Kelly said. “They kind of ran in a pack. That helped.”
WHAT WE SAID WHEN LUGG’S NATIONAL LETTER OF INTENT ARRIVED
“Those aren’t typos. 6-foot-7. 293 pounds. If they are typos, they are not by much. Notre Dame is touting Lugg as 6’6”, 280. His frame appears ready to hold more [weight], at that. His long arms set him up well for pass protection. Do not be surprised to see Lugg continue the recent Irish tradition of top-tier offensive linemen.”
It will be a shock to see Lugg on the field in 2017. Notre Dame almost never plays freshmen offensive linemen, and this year should provide even less of a need for it than usual with four starters returning and the competition between Kraemer and Eichenberg continuing for the starting right tackle position.
DOWN THE ROAD
Entering 2018, the Irish will be looking for two left-side linemen. Lugg presents as a viable option at left tackle, and he should get preferential treatment for that spot in the long-term if he rivals the likes of Kraemer and/or Eichenberg for it. Each of them would make more sense at guard than Lugg would, and the goal with the offensive line is to find the best combination of five players, not necessarily slot players in spots that are best for them individually.
Spending the fall in a college weight room and with the scout team, while hopefully learning each day from McGlinchey in the film room, could give Lugg the base needed to force those questions in spring practice. It is undoubtedly an ambitious timeline, but it is far from an unreasonable one.
Aside from the five early enrollees, the numbers are not yet known for the incoming Irish freshmen. A little educated guessing can garner estimates for those numbers, and those estimates allow the proceedings to continue sans pause.
The NCAA recommends tackles wear a number between 70 and 79. In that range, Notre Dame’s roster does not already have No. 73, 76 and 79. With Hainsey sporting No. 72 this spring, it seemed natural to slot Lugg immediately before his classmate.
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