Conor Hanratty carries on legacy at Notre Dame
Ryan Klaus | Thursday, November 20, 2014
Senior offensive lineman Conor Hanratty has always been around Notre Dame.
Long before his career began, Hanratty’s father, Terry, was a three-year starting quarterback for the Irish in the late 1960s, winning a national championship in 1966, finishing third in Heisman Trophy voting in 1968 and earning consensus All-America honors in 1968.
“Growing up a Notre Dame fan was great,” Hanratty said. “My dad is a great role model for me, and I always knew what Notre Dame had to offer [from] visiting here so much.”
Despite the fact that his father’s playing days are engrained in Notre Dame lore, Conor Hanratty said he tried to stay away from that legacy when mulling over offers in his recruiting process.
“I kind of put that aside and visited other schools and took other visits, knowing in mind what Notre Dame was all about,” he said. “At the end of the day, it was the best place for me. I visited a bunch of great schools that all had a lot to offer, but I felt like this was the best.”
The New Canaan, Connecticut, native started his own Notre Dame career in 2011 in a position much different than that of his father’s — on the offensive line. At 6-foot-4 and 310 lb., Hanratty came in as part of head coach Brian Kelly’s second recruiting class at Notre Dame.As a member of some deep offensive line units at Notre Dame, it took some time before Hanratty saw game action on the field. In his freshman season, he did not play at all; however, as a sophomore in 2012, Hanratty began getting opportunities on special teams.
“It’s always good to get out on the field and play when you can,” Hanratty said of his early opportunities with special teams.
It appeared that Hanratty was headed for a similar fate during his junior season in 2013. The Irish offensive line was deep again and returned multiple starters from the team that played for the national championship the year before.
For the first half of the 2013 season, Hanratty’s work was on special teams for the Irish, but toward the end of the season, opportunities to play on the line finally began to appear. With two starters — former offensive lineman Chris Watt and current graduate student Christian Lombard — both battling injuries during the final games for the Irish, Hanratty was frequently called upon to step in and take their place.
“A big part of what coach Kelly teaches us is the ‘next man in’ mentality — that everyone should be ready to fill a guy’s shoes when their number’s called,” Hanratty said. “That’s what happened with me, and I think I did a pretty good job. It’s always nice to get out there and play.”
Hanratty appeared in each of Notre Dame’s final six games during his junior season, starting four times.
Hanratty contributed to what was overall a successful season for the Notre Dame offensive line. As a group, the unit allowed just eight sacks, which ranked second among FBS teams for fewest sacks allowed.
Building off his performance in 2013, Hanratty came into the 2014 season as a starter for the Irish at left guard. However, the offensive line as a whole did not have near the success at the beginning of 2014 as it had in 2013, and eventually the coaching staff made some changes to the unit.
Following Notre Dame’s win over Purdue on Sept. 13, a shakeup resulted in a revamped offensive line for the Irish, which featured four players in new spots. Unfortunately for Hanratty, he was moved to the bench because of the switches, leaving him in familiar spot to the one he was in at the beginning of last season — the role of a backup who will immediately take over if injuries become prevalent.
“It feels as you could imagine,” Hanratty said of his move to the sideline. “Not playing kind of sucks, but I’ll just do whatever the team needs for me, and whenever I can contribute, I’ll contribute. I’ll be ready to be play when my number’s called, just like last year.”
Off the field, Hanratty said he plans to earn his degree from the Mendoza College of Business next spring. Specifically, he is studying management-consulting, noting that a big influence in him choosing the major is the variety of potential career paths it opens up.
“I feel like it’s a very adaptive major,” Hanratty said. “There are a diverse amount of options for having success with it.”
When Hanratty looks back on his experiences at Notre Dame, he said he recognizes how special an opportunity playing for the Irish is and how captivating it can be for recruits.
“Part of the appeal of Notre Dame is that you’re always on TV, have sold out crowds and [have] all the tradition,” Hanratty said. “Being able to run out of the tunnels here is something special. There’s nothing like it, and it’s just great being a part of that.”
Overall, Hanratty said he couldn’t single out one moment as his favorite memory in his career.
“It’s tough to pick a top moment,” he said. “All wins that I’ve been a part of have given me a great feeling in terms of being able to contribute to the team and getting to play with some of my best friends.”
Hanratty’s last game at Notre Dame Stadium this season will be against Louisville on Saturday, and he said he is looking forward to being able to share some of the last few moments of his career with his former Notre Dame quarterback father and the rest of his family.
“It’s just going to be great to have my parents and my family there,” he said. “Senior day is special for me and them.”