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Notre Dame Football

Notre Dame OT Joe Alt Reflects on All-American Honors as Sophomore

December 19, 2022
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Notre Dame left tackle Joe Alt mirrors his father, John, in many ways. Both are 6-foot-8 and played tight end at the prep level — only to bulk up to 300-plus pounds in college and move to offensive tackle.

John went on to become a first-round NFL Draft pick at Iowa and played 13 seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs. He was named first-team All-Pro in 1991 and achieved multiple Pro Bowl nods. 

He made his position switch after his sophomore season with the Hawkeyes, whereas Joe began to prepare physically and mentally for offensive tackle as a 17-year-old in high school. His accelerated transition paid off, as Joe has achieved something his father never did when he was recently named to Associated Press First-Team All-American.

“It was definitely awesome,” Alt said. “It’s always great to get praise. I’m honored and very grateful. My whole family is very happy for me, and I think my dad’s also very happy just because we put a lot of work in together. For him, it’s kind of seeing it pay off. 

“That’s really been great for us, but I don’t want to get [too focused on] the individual success.”

The AP isn’t the only entity to laud Alt’s abilities. He racked up several other notable All-American recognitions this December.

Notable Joe Alt 2022 All-American Accolades

- Associated Press First-Team All-American

- AFCA Second-Team All-American

- The Sporting News Second-Team All-American

- FWAA Second-Team All-American

- Walter Camp Second-Team All-American

Pro Football Focus also named Alt a First-Team All-American based on how well the scouting service graded the sophomore tackle throughout the 2022 season.

He produced the highest overall PFF grade by a Notre Dame offensive lineman since Quenton Nelson (92.2) and Mike McGlinchey (91.9) in 2017. Both were upperclassmen at the time and left after the season to be top-10 NFL Draft picks. 

PFF may view Alt as the best offensive tackle in college football, but position coach Harry Hiestand grades on a much steeper curve.

“I would say definitely we’re harder here,” Alt said. “That’s a good thing. You never want to be complacent. You want to take each and every day to get better. I love hard coaching. You never want to be satisfied. I love it. Keep getting better each day and keep striving for a higher goal.”

Unlike Nelson and McGlinchey in 2017, Alt has at least one more season in Blue and Gold before he can turn pro and that’s fine with him. He still feels there’s plenty of room for improvement. 

“I would say it’s my footwork,” Alt said. “Even today, there are always things you can simplify and calm down. For me, I had some hot feet early on, so just trying to calm down. Each step is crucial. That’s been the biggest thing for me.”

He’ll also continue to work especially hard at getting into the optimal position as soon as the ball is snapped, which has been a point of emphasis since Hiestand arrived. Alt quickly realized he was near unbeatable if he can get to his spot first, which happened far more often than not. According to PFF, he allowed five quarterback pressures all season and zero sacks. 

He accomplished this while exemplifying what it means to be a student-athlete. Entering the semester, he had achieved a 3.25 GPA as a mechanical engineering student at Notre Dame.

Despite the vast difference between his engineering coursework and offensive line film study, Alt sees some overlap.  

“There’s something to be said about problem-solving in engineering,” Alt said. “That’s harped (on) in classes overall. On the football field, it’s more in-game. You can break down film and you’re going to know the general thing, but every defense is going to game plan an offense differently.

“It’s seeing it on the field, watching it, and then when you come to the sideline, being able to hash it out with the guys.”

For as nice as it felt to be named an All-American by several different publications, Alt is ready to move on. At the end of the day, it has no barring on how well he’ll play in the Gator Bowl on Dec. 30. He’ll have to continue to hone his craft in order to succeed against the Gamecocks.  

“I think everyone’s excited about it, but there’s still one more game to be played,” Alt said. “We [enjoyed] it for the weeks that it came out, but now it’s back to work and getting ready for South Carolina.”

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