SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — It might be the worst-kept secret around Notre Dame's campus: NFL executives are so impressed with left tackle Joe Alt that they're ready to draft him in the first round.
So, with that kind of hype, it seems a foregone conclusion that Saturday's game between the 20th-ranked Fighting Irish (No. 19 CFP) and Wake Forest likely will be his last one at Notre Dame Stadium.
“He’s a pro,” offensive coordinator Gerad Parker said. “He is the epitome of the word — the way he approaches his work on a daily basis and leads the right way, his intangibles.”
The measurables are pretty good, too.
Alt towers over even other prototypical offensive tackles at 6-foot-8, 322 pounds and he's incredibly flexible, too, especially given size. That is just part of reason draft analysts expect Alt will be a top-10 pick in April.
Irish coach Marcus Freeman also seems aware of this reality, so much so that he recently teased a reporter about neglecting to list Alt, a junior, as one of his draft-eligible players who could return next season.
“You didn’t mention Joe Alt,” Freeman joked. "You might know something I don’t know. Alt is leaving?”
It's a decision the academically inclined Alt — who is majoring in mechanical engineering — will weigh with his family. His father, John, played tight end for two seasons at Iowa before moving to tackle and becoming a first-round draft pick in 1984.
John Alt spent 13 seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs and was a two-time Pro Bowler. And Joe Alt might not be in his current position without his father’s guidance.
The younger Alt started out as a tight end, weighing 220 pounds during his junior year at Totino-Grace High School in Minneapolis.
So, he started working with his dad on fine-tuning his body and skills to play offensive line. He lifted weights four times a week over the next 18 months and changed his diet to add lean mass.
“My main focus was I’ve got to put on weight,” Joe Alt said. "But I’ve got to do it properly. It can’t just be eating. I’ve got to lift, and I’ve got to run.”
As a result, Alt arrived on campus in the summer of 2021 weighing 306 pounds.
His father's influence didn't stop when he left home. They still watch film together regularly.
“It’s always breaking down opponents each and every week,” the younger Alt said. “He always gives me pointers because he’s been there, and he’s been through it. It’s always a lot of help.”
Alt's done just fine on his own, too.
He started the final eight games of his freshman year and took his game to greater heights the past two seasons. Pro Football Focus graded him the best run blocker in the FBS as a sophomore. As a junior, he has allowed one sack and four quarterback pressures, according to PFF.
“Joe is the best tackle in the country. Everyone knows that,” running back Audric Estimé said.
Alt's play is considered exceptional even based on high standards of Notre Dame, a 2023 Joe Moore Award semifinalist as the nation's best offensive line and a program dubbed “ Offensive Line U ” because of its endless stream of top-tier talent up front.
In 2022, Alt became the sixth Notre Dame offensive lineman to make The Associated Press All-America team in six years — and the only one to achieve the honor as a sophomore. Alt and Penei Swell are the only sophomores tackles to earn All-American status since at least 2010.
But unlike the other 31 players facing Wake Forest (4-6) in their home finale, Alt and his father will not walk onto the grass at Notre Dame Stadium because that tradition is reserved for seniors. So while Freeman and the Irish running backs would gladly welcome Alt back next season, they know his college days are likely numbered.
“He’s just a guy who is a great leader for this team, and a guy I hope to play with for a couple more years," Estimé said.
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