The logical career path for Steve Elmer when he arrived in South Bend a year ago was to wait a season, then take over for Zack Martin at left tackle. The highly-touted recruit enrolled early at Notre Dame and looked like a perfect candidate to be Martin's understudy, though he's hardly guaranteed to wind up starting at left tackle for the next two or three seasons.
"I think when they come through the doors, we don't peg a guy and say, that's the left tackle," coach Brian Kelly said Friday. "We say, he's a tackle more so than we say he's a left tackle versus a right tackle."
In Elmer's case, he may have initially been viewed as a tackle but was forced into action at right guard in 2013 after Christian Lombard underwent season-ending back surgery. Elmer is a safe bet to start somewhere on Notre Dame's offensive line, though where that'll be has yet to be determined.
If Elmer does win the left tackle job, he'll have to beat out three teammates mentioned by Kelly as competitors there: Ronnie Stanley, Mike McGlinchey and Lombard.
Stanley started all 13 games for Notre Dame at right tackle last season, while Lombard has two years of starting experience at both tackle and guard. Kelly has raved about McGlinchey's athleticism, and like Elmer he came to Notre Dame with a four-star rating.
"Long story short, most experienced, most athletic, you would say, oh, it's Stanley immediately," Kelly said. "But for most comfort and who has been on the left side, you know, you probably say, you go with the guys that have already been over there, Elmer.
"So we'll probably go through the spring and look at both of those before we make the final decision."