Notre Dame 99-to-2: No. 74 Liam Eichenberg, right tackle
Listed Measurements: 6-foot-6, 294 pounds
2017-18 year, eligibility: Sophomore with four years of eligibility remaining including 2017
Depth chart: Eichenberg and classmate Tommy Kraemer engaged in a back-and-forth competition at the right tackle spot throughout spring practice. Kraemer appears to have an edge for the starting honor, albeit a slight edge, as it pertains to the 2017 season.
Recruiting: A consensus four-star recruit, rivals.com listed Eichenberg as the No.11 tackle in the country and the No. 6 recruit in Ohio. (Kraemer was the No. 4 tackle and the top player in Ohio.) The Under Armour All-American spurned offers from Michigan, Ohio State and Florida State, among many others, to commit to Irish offensive line coach Harry Hiestand.
CAREER TO DATE
Eichenberg preserved a year of eligibility in 2016. So, instead, here is the highlight video Notre Dame propagated upon Eichenberg’s signing in February of 2016.
As Eichenberg and Kraemer alternated practices with the first unit, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly spent much of spring comparing and contrasting the two. Many of these quotes are repeated from Kraemer’s 99-to-2 post from last week. Simply put, when it comes to pertinent bits about either of the young linemen, progress was measured as much in its relation to the other as it was in overall growth.
“Those two are the guys we have mapped out at right tackle and they’re going to battle,” Kelly said in March. “… They’re going to keep battling and splitting the action out there.”
Kelly was asked multiple times throughout the two months of spring practices if senior Alex Bars was an option at right tackle. Kelly insisted Bars would remain at right guard and one of the sophomores would need to step forward as the outside protector. It should be noted, Bars started 12 games at right tackle last year as the Irish returned four offensive line starters.
“I think it’s firmly established at the right guard position,” Kelly said. “Alex Bars is going to be the right guard. I don’t see that there’s going to be any real change there. He was a starter for us last year.
“It’s the right tackle position that continues to be a competitive situation with Kraemer and Eichenberg still working and splitting reps there. Each one of them is a little different. Kraemer at times a little bit more physical. Liam a little bit longer, maybe. Longer translates itself into pass [protection]. Both of them still are on that learning curve but both of them are really good players.”
WHAT KEITH ARNOLD PROJECTED A YEAR AGO
“A redshirt for Eichenberg.
“Then a spring where he could be in a battle to replace Notre Dame’s next first-round left tackle. (It’s too early to predict if McGlinchey is heading to the NFL, but he certainly will have all eyes on him.)
“Regardless, it’s a critically important season for Eichenberg on the practice field and in the weight room. Because there’s every reason to believe that the Irish will be reloading on the offensive line this recruiting cycle, and there [will] be competition in the ranks from the moment he steps on campus.”
To continue to pull from the Kramer entry, his slight lead over Eichenberg for the starting right tackle position has some uneasy. The Irish coaches would have undoubtedly preferred to see one of the two — or, certainly ideally, both — emerge as a bona fide seal on the outside. Instead, both delivered an up-and-down spring, leaving the eventual starter open to ready second-guessing.
Kraemer will likely start against Temple, but Eichenberg will have a chance in August to make his claim. Even if he does not prevail, Eichenberg will see playing time this season.
DOWN THE ROAD
In some respects, spending 2017 as a back up could bode better for Eichenberg’s long-term career. Fifth-year senior Mike McGlinchey will not be Notre Dame’s left tackle in 2018. If Eichenberg spent this season readying for that role, it could be his while Kraemer remains — hypothetically — at right tackle.
It is not to say one position is more important than the other, but the NFL does pay left tackles much better than right tackles.
Either Eichenberg or Kraemer will start at right tackle this year (unless Kelly backtracks on insisting Bars will be right guard). One or the other will have first crack at starting at left tackle in 2018.
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. 30: Josh Barajas, linebacker, to transfer to Illinois State