On the same day Notre Dame identified its choice to succeed recently retired offensive line coach Harry Hiestand, the Irish secured plans to check out a possible talent addition to the position group, soon to be led by Joe Rudolph.
Maryland grad transfer Mason Lunsford, a two-year starter at offensive guard for the Terrapins, announced Monday via Twitter that he will take an official visit to check out the Irish this weekend.
Nine days after the 6-foot-7, 305-pound product of Olney (Md.) Good Counsel entered the NCAA transfer portal, he had already racked up eight offers, including one from LSU. Lunsford was a three-star prospect coming out of high school with five reported offers.
Good Counsel is the same school that sent the cornerback Cam Hart and the city center Sam Mustipher to Notre Dame in recent years. In fact, Hart and Lunsford were both in the 2019 recruiting class.
Because he is a graduate transfer, Lunsford did not have to wait until the 1-15 window. May to enter the portal. And wherever he lands, he will have two years of eligibility. He would be in June if he ends up with the Irish.
Rudolph inherits an All-American at junior left tackle Joe Alt and one with a similar career path at junior right tackle Blake Fisher. Degree senior Zeke Correll is the third returning starter, a incumbent at center. The guard posts are wide open.
Pro Football Focus gave Lunsford a 79.8 blocking grade and a 62.1 blocking grade for his play last season. Notre Dame’s starting left guard in 2022 Jarrett Patterson, who left the program this offseason for the NFL, posted 73.4 and 70.3 grades, respectively, last season. Starting right guard Josh Luggwho also did not return, received 65.3 and 71.7 marks respectively.
Sophomore Billy Schrauthjunior Rocco Spindler and degree senior Andrew Kristofic all are expected to compete for the guards this spring, and so may some of the backup tackles.
So far, Notre Dame has added five scholarship transfers and two walk-on transfers — a record already — this offseason. Quarterback Sam Hartmandefensive end Javontae Jean-Baptistesecurity/nickel Thomas Harper and wide receiver Caleb Smith (the oldest) is already on campus taking classes and going through winter training.
They are all expected to participate in spring practice, which starts on March 22 and ends with the blue-gold game on April 22. Scholarship kicker Spencer Shaderwalk-on tipster Ben Krimm and walk-on defensive end/linebacker Cole Aubrey enrolls in June.