Friday, May 17, 2013
Haubert: Bars has huge upside
By Craig Haubert
Notre Dame loaded up on talented offensive linemen in its 2013 class. Friday, the Irish landed their fourth for 2014 with the addition of ESPN 150 prospect Alex Bars (Nashville, Tenn./Montgomery Bell).
Here's what our scouts think of Brian Kelly's latest pledge:
Don't expect Alex Bars to start right away at Notre Dame. But with a little polish and some physical growth, look out.
What he brings: In Bars, the Fighting Irish are getting a talented O-line prospect who exhibits very promising upside. A tackle with excellent height and good bulk, he still looks like he has nice physical upside with room to pack on good mass and improve playing strength. He should make noticeable improvements with some time in the Notre Dame weight program. The big man is a good athlete who demonstrates good flexibility, balance and agility.
He needs to keep getting stronger and make some technical improvements but is a strong run blocker who can explode off the ball, gain physical leverage, roll his hips and drive defenders off the ball. He also moves well enough laterally to develop into an effective zone blocker. The physical tools are there, as he has the size and is light on his feet, but more work looks to be needed in pass protection as he is not as far along in this facet of his game.
How he fits: Bars looks to be a very nice fit for Notre Dame and its offense under the guidance of Coach Kelly and offensive coordinator Chuck Martin. Development is needed in areas, but he has demonstrated the ability and smarts to be a very effective blocker in both man and zone blocking schemes.
History at position: Notre Dame has a lot of history in many regards and has produced it share of fine O-linemen, but what matters is the immediate history as the Irish try to get back to the national-title game and leave with better results. Kelly, entering his fourth year, has demonstrated the ability to make the moves and combine the right pieces to maximize the talent on his roster, and that includes the O-line.
The 2012 OL was not physically dominating, but it was an athletic, smart, cohesive group of upperclassmen. Two of those pieces are gone, and at least two more will be gone after the coming season. The 2012 O-line was a good, productive group, but by 2014 this unit will look very different, and Notre Dame is really addressing the position with the 2013 and ’14 classes.
With Bars, the Fighting Irish have a prospect who possesses the ability and upside to be arguably the best of these recent O-line additions and possibly even better than any of the members of the '12 O-line that helped take them to the championship game.
Prediction for performance: Unless some significant strides are made in his pass protection, it's hard to see Bars being a plug-and-play guy, but while things certainly can change, the Irish shouldn't be in a position where they need to press him into action. The ideal route would be to redshirt him. If they can, it should pay nice dividends. As mentioned, this is a prospect who has good ability, but his best football is still very much ahead of him, and if the Irish can allow him a little time to further develop physically and improve some aspects of his game, they will have a player with the physical tools to be a very good and potentially excellent multi-year starter.
How the class is shaping up: Notre Dame's 2013 class finished in the top five in the rankings and is off to a good start for 2014 with a class that currently sits in the top 10. The Irish signed a handful of O-linemen in the most recent cycle, and they're on their way to doing so again. Bars is now their fourth line commit for 2014.