Alex Bars continues family football tradition
Meagan Bens | Friday, November 17, 2017
Being a member of the Notre Dame offensive line has been one of the most valuable experiences on and off the field for senior and Nashville, Tennessee, native Alex Bars.
Working together as one cohesive unit, Bars mentioned the brotherhood among them comes naturally.
“They’re great guys,” Bars said. “[Graduate student] Mike [McGlinchey], [seniors Quenton Nelson], Sam [Bush], [graduate student] Hunter [Bivin], [sophomore] Tommy Kraemer, [freshman Robert] Hainsey. Obviously I played three years with Mike, Q and Sam, so I am super tight with all of them. We can connect super well, we all understand where we are going to be. Hainsey and Tommy have developed week to week, they’re redshirted freshmen, and the connection with them is really good as well. We’ve been able to tie us four seniors with both of them … And I’m probably closest to Q. He’s my roommate and we’ve been best buds since day one. He’s a jokester and from day one we hung out together. After freshmen year we bonded great, we were vying for the guard spot our redshirt freshman year so we spent a ton of time watching film together.”
Despite the constant pressure and criticism Division I athletes are subjected to, Bars said the line’s motivation comes from its teammates, which keeps the unit going.
“We know it’s on us to get our job done, as one unit to see things as one set of eyes and be on the same page,” Bars said. “We make sure our skill players can make the big plays. And we love when they can make the big plays cause that means we can do our job and that’s the underlying factor of our motivation.”
Bars said intelligence and aggression is key to being successful on the field.
“Essential trait is being smart, and I’d also say aggression,” Bars said. “Knowing the plays and what to do with different fronts, different looks, different linebacker alignments. Knowing to get different path detections if it’s man side, zone side, five side, you got to give protection. Versus a blitz and how to pick up a blitz with the play call and how to approach each block accordingly.”
In addition to having the ability to scan, assess and act accordingly, Bars said the offensive line takes on the responsibility to support one other and the other offensive players.
“‘Do your job no matter what at all times, no matter the circumstances,’ describes what goes on through our heads,” Bars said. “When we mess up, we obviously feel bad for ourselves, but we feel bad because you let the line down and the guys around you. A lot of the time, we play for the guys next to us. You’re not paying the price for it, the running backs are paying for it, or the receivers. Lot of it falls on us when we don’t do our job, but that comes along with the job.”
Without hesitation, Bars said offensive line coach Harry Hiestand has been instrumental in making his football career at Notre Dame memorable.
“He’s the best,” Bars said. “He’s tough but awesome, he cares so much about us. He’s going to get on you, but by the end of the day he really cares about you. He’s going to take that time to make sure you reach your full potential no matter what.”
Reflecting on his time playing, Bars said he noticed the strong camaraderie from the beginning of his Notre Dame career.
“My first starting game was really fun and I was also really nervous,” Bars said. “It was really fun. It was a day game, 3:30 game, and I can recall almost every block from that game. It was the salute your troops day I think so, we were all wearing the specialized cleats and gear. It was really fun, seems like forever ago. I was just playing next to [former offensive linemen] Ronnie [Stanley] and Nick Martin and they took care of me.”
In addition to his Notre Dame family, Bars’ family back home steered him in the direction he is taking today.
“I have two older brothers and a younger sister,” Bars said. “Two older brothers played ball, one at Penn State and one at Michigan. My little sister is playing volleyball at Ole Miss. I got to play my brother my freshman year when he came here for the Michigan game. So, I saw him on the field so that was cool. My dad played here back in the 80s, from 1981 to 1984. They helped me out a ton. They were already playing and I was just coming up so I got more of a look at the field.”
Although all three Bars boys all play football, Bars said his dad especially enjoys watching Alex follow in his footsteps.
“He’ll never admit it, but I’m his favorite,” Bars said. “He didn’t push me playing here, but you could tell. Of course, he is going to want me to go and follow in his steps. He’s loved every minute of me playing or being a part of this school and university.”
As a student-athlete at the University, Bars said his experience and connections at Notre Dame will have a great impact on what he will pursue as a future career.
“My time here will tremendously affect my future,” Bars said. “It has provided exposure first and foremost for the NFL and also for jobs. Tons of people are looking to hire athletes and if you are coming from Notre Dame, it’s a no-brainer. Also at the same time, just the network you already have from going to Notre Dame will greatly help you outside of college.”
Although Bars intends to go into the NFL, as his brother and former Penn State linebacker Brad Bars did, he said it is not his main focus at the moment.
“NFL is a goal but we will see from there,” he said. “I am getting a finance degree, both my brothers majored in that and I ended up liking it as well. I talk to former players all the time about the NFL, but I’m just focused on the season right now.”