The calling card for a Notre Dame program that has produced the likes of Quenton Nelson, Zack Martin and Ronnie Stanley is their offensive line play and new commit Rocco Spindler fits the mold of what Brian Kelly and the Irish staff look for on the trail.
Tabbed by the 247Sports Composite as the nation’s No. 3 offensive guard and No. 48 prospect overall, the 6-foot-4 1/2, 315-pound Spindler is a hard-nosed, tough, physical player at the point of attack who has controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball for Clarkston (Mich.) High over the last three season. He announced his pledge to ND on Saturday night choosing to play in South Bend over his other finalists Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State and LSU.
“I want to dominate guys and really make them feel my pads,” Spindler said. “I want to push them against their will and break them at the end of the game.”
College ready from a physical standpoint, Spindler whips around 100-pound bags of corn on the family farm like they’re popcorn bags. His wrestling background allows him to play with great leverage and stamina. He’s also been passionate about football his whole life, the son of former Marc Spindler a high school All-American himself who played on the defensive line at Pitt before a 10-year career in the NFL.
“I want to bring a killer mentality to the offensive line,” the younger Spindler said, “wanting to put the other guy into the ground.”
The fourth offensive lineman to join the fold, Spindler adds to a Notre Dame class that now ranks No. 11 nationally per the 247Sports Composite. He and Blake Fisher, who is the country’s No. 8 offensive tackle and No. 50 prospect overall, are the class jewels with Pat Coogan and Joe Alt also possessing high upside traits.
It was important for the Irish to continue reloading on the offensive front this cycle. All five of Notre Dame’s starters this fall could be NFL bound at season’s end in Liam Eichenberg, Aaron Banks, Jarrett Patterson, Tommy Kraemer and Robert Hainsey. Sure guys like Andrew Kristofic, Josh Lugg and Zeke Correll, three more once-touted recruits, will be ready to step up when their number is called, but to maintain the standard of dominate o-line play reloading these last two classes was integral. Kelly and offensive line coach Jeff Quinn signed two blue-chippers in 2020 in Tosh Baker and Michael Carmody and now the four in this batch.
The attribute Brian Kelly and his staff survey for first and foremost when evaluating offensive linemen is feet. Do they have the ability to slide their feet, do they have the balance and body control to develop into the guy they need him to be? Blake Fisher certainly has that to go along with a wide body. The 6-foot-5 1/2, 336-pound Fisher can move in pass protection, he can anchor, he has the body quickness and again those feet to get his big body onto linebackers into the second level. He plays with the toughness and effort you want at the position.
Coogan is a Southside of Chicago kid who dreamed of playing at ND, and like the others in the class plays with the toughness desired at the position. I like the body quickness, balance and body control the Irish pledge brings to the table, and you know he’s going to bring resilient and determined effort.
Alt isn’t as college ready as Spindler, Fisher or Coogan, but his ceiling may be the highest with a couple years in the hopper to blossom, particularly under the watchful eye of ND’s distinguished director of football performance Matt Balis. The 6-foot-7, 257-pound Alt has the length, ability to bend and athleticism and like Spindler also comes from great pedigree, his father was a first round draft pick out of Iowa that played 12 years in the NFL.
Throw in Mitchell Evans who signs with Notre Dame as a tight end but has a frame to also grow into an offensive tackle and this class solidifies what should continue to be the trademark of the Irish program. Look forward to 2022 and ND is off and running on the trail there as well with a commitment from Top247 offensive tackle Joey Tanona.