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Notre Dame Football

In record performance, Mayer proves consummate teammate

November 28, 2021

Michael Mayer had again filled up the box score.

So well, in fact, that Notre Dame's sublime sophomore tight end had been awarded the game ball from Saturday night's 45-14 win at Stanford.

A nine-catch, 105-yard effort can yield such fruits of the labor.

And Mayer's 64 receptions through the regular season had secured another honor – that of the program's all-time single-season record for catches by a tight end.

Not bad for a place that has legitimate claim for the moniker of 'Tight End U.'

It all left Irish coach Brian Kelly wondering aloud in his post-game press conference about the list Mayer has not populated: that of the Mackey Award, given annually to college football's best tight end.

"He's not on the Mackey Award List, which is a – I don't know – maybe it was just an oversight and they're gonna get back together and re-vote,” Kelly said. “Maybe that's what happened. But he's one of the best, if not the best tight end that I've ever coached at Notre Dame, and we've had some great tight ends.”

Finalists for the Mackey Award include Iowa State’s Charlie Kolar, Texas A&M’s Jalen Wydermyer and Colorado State’s Tre McBride. Also of note about the finalists: their three teams have a combined 18 losses.

Notre Dame has just one, to undefeated Cincinnati, and it remains in contention for a third trip in four seasons to the College Football Playoff.

Mayer admitted that his own exclusion from the award's trio of finalists had been a widely discussed topic in the Irish's Guglielmino Athletic Complex – though the sophomore from the Cincinnati suburb of Independence, Kentucky, emphasized the snub had not impacted his approach.

“I think the social media reaction spoke for itself,” said Mayer, now with 106 career receptions and more than 1,200 receiving yards in 23 games. “I'm focused on the next game, the next bowl game whether it be A New Year's bowl game or College Football Playoff. I'm focused on that. I'm not going to worry about things I can't control.

“A couple coaches tweeted some things out (about Mayer's omission), and I talked to pretty much every coach about it in the Gug. I'm not going to say what was said to me, but just like I said before, we're just going to keep working. Can't get caught up in what I can't control.”

What Mayer controlled as seamlessly as the Cardinal defense was the post-game spotlight on his record-breaking campaign, punctuated in the rivalry win and the program's 54th victory in its past five years – also a record.

“Obviously, I've got a year left here, but I'm just so appreciative of what everybody has kind of done for me here,” Mayer said. “Coach (Tommy) Rees, Coach (John) McNulty, Coach (Lance) Taylor, kind of all the offensive coaches. Game in and game out, they've put in an awesome game plan for me and an awesome game plan for the offense.

“I don't beat this record without any of those coaches, and second obviously the 11 people out there with me on the field. Kevin Austin, (Braden) Lenzy, Deion (Colzie), those types of players, Zo (Styles). Their speed, they know how to catch balls, they know how to run routes; that's kind of what they know how to do. So it opens up things for me, which is very unselfish of them.

“Jack's done a great job this year of getting me the ball. It's kind of been an accumulation of a ton of things this year. This record isn't broken by me. It's broken by the entire team.”

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