Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Football

Notre Dame Position Battles | Tight End

May 26, 2020
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Notre Dame has earned the name “Tight End U”. When every starter in the last decade has been drafted by the NFL and four of them drafted in the top two rounds, they can make t-shirts and claim the name all they want.

Cole Kmet leaving early for the NFL leaves a hole on the roster, but Notre Dame has never had trouble replacing tight ends. That’s the case again with a couple of players ready to step into bigger roles and more who could push to be factors in 2020.

Tommy Tremble showed last season why he can be a better version of Alize Mack. He has a similar athletic profile, but is much more physical. He established himself as a capable blocker when used in a fullback/H-back role and also displayed flashes of big play ability. In the two games before Kmet returned from injury, Tremble had four catches with two of them over 25 yards.

He’s the odds on favorite to be TE1 this season based on his production and the blocking ability he already showed, but can he line up play as Y? Can he handle a defensive end that’s lined up in a 7-technique when Notre Dame is trying to run the ball outside? That might limit him if he can’t.

Notre Dame always plays two tight ends and Brock Wright playing with Tremble seems like the logical choice when they are in 12 personnel (one back, two tight ends).

Wright was an elite prospect coming out of high school and one of the best in-line blocking tight ends I have evaluated. He’s never really become the guy many thought he’d be at Notre Dame. Is that because his path to playing time was blocked by Durham Smythe, Alize Mack and Kmet? Is that because Chip Long did a poor job of distributing playing time and developing the tight ends on the roster? We would have had a better idea for both of those answers if there was a spring ball.

We’ll have to wait to see how Wright emerges after working with new tight end coach John McNulty. It’s easy to concede the starting tight end job to Tremble, but Wright has a fair shot at it as well if he can establish himself as the in-line blocker he was projected to be.

George Takacs is the other returning tight end on the roster and it’s a huge year for him. He has to become the third tight end at the very least if he wants to be in a position to follow in the footsteps of the most recent starters at tight end.

He hasn’t played enough on Saturdays to establish himself, but has flashed a big catch radius. He’ll need to build on that and more to hold off the incoming freshmen.

The headliner of those freshmen is Michael Mayer. He’s someone we have spoken about repeatedly as a player who is too talented not to earn snaps in 2020. He’s a great athlete who owns the football in traffic in addition to his skills after the catch.

Not having a full summer on campus could hurt his chances of making a significant impact, but it would not be surprising to see him rise up as the season progresses.

Kevin Bauman is a bit of a forgotten man because of Mayer. Bauman is also not expected to play in 2020 because of the depth in front of him. But like every tight end the Irish sign, he has NFL potential. We’ll have to likely wait to see it on Saturdays.

 
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