Notre Dame added it’s 12th commitment for the class of 2021 on Monday in the form of 3-star prospect Joe Alt. The commitment itself didn’t raise much fanfare outside of the Notre Dame community due to Alt’s 3-star status, but since committing, he has drawn some interesting comparisons.
At 6’7″, 260 lbs, and playing tight end on the prep level, one of the most common comparisons that Alt is receiving from outside the Notre Dame program is Joe Staley – the former six-time NFL Pro Bowler and three-time NFL All-Pro. Staley made the transition from tight end to offensive line from high school to college, where he played for then Central Michigan head coach Brian Kelly and his offensive line coach, Jeff Quinn.
The familiarity between Kelly and Quinn with Staley makes the comparison obvious. Still, no less of a lofty comparison for a prospect ranked as a three-star prospect on every service with an offer list that doesn’t suggest the ranking is that far off for what Alt is currently. Unlike say Pat Coogan, who committed in the spring as a three-star lineman with offers from LSU, Michigan, Oklahoma, and Ohio State, Alt’s biggest offers are Iowa, Iowa State, Kansas State, and Minnesota.
The Notre Dame staff didn’t recruit Alt for the player he is right now, though. Notre Dame already has Cane Berrong at tight end in this class and have been actively working on adding another tight end in the class. They recruited Alt for the player they think he can become. And that player is one who can use the athleticism he possesses, allowing him to currently play tight end to transition into an offensive tackle on the college level that grows into their frame ala Staley.
This is not to say that Joe Alt is the next Joe Staley, but rather to provide some more context into why Notre Dame made the offer to Alt in late May.
Staley isn’t the only former San Francisco 49er that has been mentioned in context to Alt, though. Former Notre Dame great Mike McGlinchey’s name has been brought up as well because, like Alt, McGlinchey was a tall, lean prospect who possessed great athleticism in high school. In McGlinchey’s case, that athleticism didn’t translate to playing tight end, but it did allow McGlinchey to excel on the hardwood as a basketball player as well.
Alt’s lineage and heredity suggest that he could excel with the tight end to offensive tackle transition as well. His father, John Alt, began his collegiate career at Iowa as a tight end before transitioning to offensive tackle. That move ultimately led to a 13-year NFL career with the Kansas City Cheifs resulting in two Pro Bowl nods.
Alt is not the polished product that Notre Dame fans thought the Irish would pair with Blake Fisher back in February when it looked like the Irish could land top-100 prospect Landon Tengwall or composite 4-star prospect Caleb Johnson once they missed on Tengwall.
Alt is, however, an intriguing prospect that offers a pretty large boom or bust factor for the class of 2021. Which he becomes will depend a lot on the work he does with Matt Balis in the weight room and the development that Jeff Quinn can coach out of him. Notre Dame fans are bearish on Quinn these days, but Quinn has had success in the past with a prospect like Alt.
With Alt on board, Notre Dame would love to finish off the offensive line class for 2021 with Rocco Spindler and call it a day. In fact, there isn’t a single recruit left that Notre Dame has a reasonable chance with right now that they need to reel in more than Spindler. Should they lock that him up and pare him with Fisher, they’ll have a pair of elite, top-100 level linemen teamed with two more developmental prospects in Alt and Coogan.