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Notre Dame Football

Notre Dame TE Michael Mayer Embracing Details & Leadership Position

April 17, 2022
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Michael Mayer has played two seasons at Notre Dame and he's left little doubt who the nation's top tight end is entering the 2022 season. 

The 6-foot-4, 251-pounder has casually recorded 113 receptions for 1,290 yards and nine touchdowns during his career, but don't think Mayer is satisfied as he's focused on the finer details of his game. 

"I would say it's the depth in my routes, an extra two steps and extra step and extra three steps," explained Mayer. "That can be the difference between another 10 yards, 15 yards. That type of thing, sometimes I'm running routes and I'm eager to get the ball - just relax. Get through the route, get through the depth and get the extra 5 or 10 yards. If I can take it, I'll take it."

New Notre Dame tight ends coach Gerad Parker knew Mayer was good, but he didn't realize he was great before the spring. 

Yet, Parker pushes Mayer on those more delicate details of route running to make the Kentucky native more dangerous. 

"The fact is, he's the epitome of a pro," stated Parker. "The way he separates, he separates at the top of routes as good as anybody I've ever been around at wideout or tight end. That innate ability to be close to somebody and separate is the key to success in the route-running game, and he does that as well as anybody I've ever been around. Has great ball skills and a body type that allow him to survive a lot of things.

"Really couldn't say enough good things about where he is and the way he works and getting better. Great players like him care about getting better. It's been pretty cool to be around." 

While some top players might not appreciate the constant pushing, Mayer embraced it from day one. 

"Coming into this spring ball, I was like yeah, I feel like I had a pretty successful season last year," explained Mayer. "Got right into the tape with Coach Parker and right away, it was like, 'this is what you're doing wrong, this way need to change right away.' I was like, 'dang, coach, I thought I had a pretty good season (laughing).' 

"That's the type of thing I like about him and that's what I'm talking about when I talk about Coach Parker. Attention to detail, the steps, if the defender is here, you can do three different things instead of two different things. You can do five different things when the defender is on this hip, that type of thing. That's the type of stuff I'm going to improve on and I have been improving on."

Route running has been a focus, but so has leadership. Mayer now enters his junior year as one of the best players on the roster, which holds weight in The Gug. 

"I would say one of my main goals coming into this spring was to be more vocal," said Mayer. "There's that saying where it's lead by example, but I kind of hate that saying because if I'm leading by example, I'm just doing what I'm supposed to be doing. 

"My mindset coming into spring and coming into lifts and coming into meetings was to be way more vocal with not just the tight ends, but the entire offense, and also the entire team. That's kind of been on the forefront for what I need. So far, I feel like I've been pretty successful and it's been going pretty well."

Mayer's step forward in leadership was vital as it was expected, but it was also needed as Notre Dame had significant staff turnover. 

The offseason wasn't easy as coaches were coming and going, but all is well and Mayer couldn't be more pleased with how it shaped up in the end. 

"The new coaches have clicked right away in my eyes," stated Mayer. "Right away, we had a team meeting and all the new coaches were introduced. I shook everybody's hands. Coach (Al) Golden came from Cincinnati, obviously and I'm from 10-15 minutes right outside of Cincinnati, so I was talking about Skyline a little bit and some good food in Cincinnati. 

"Everybody has been fantastic. Everybody's clicked, I feel like. Very competitive people. Every coach in here is a competitive person and that's kind of what drives this spring and why it's been a fantastic spring so far."

Mayer also has had a front row seat to the Notre Dame quarterback battle between Tyler Buchner and Drew Pyne. 

And while Tommy Rees and Freeman haven't announced a QB1, Mayer has been pleased with the development of both quarterbacks.

"I've seen a lot from both quarterbacks since I've been here in my two and a half years," Mayer stated. "Both are great quarterbacks. I have trust in both of them, both ballers and they've been battling this spring. That's what spring ball is for. 

"We're finding our quarterback right now. We get to see who can ball and they both have been ballin' so far."

Now, Mayer's reasoning for being high on both quarterbacks could be the emphasis on getting him the ball. 

"I'm definitely going to get the ball some more than last year and freshman year, which is fantastic for me," Mayer said. "I feel like we got some good receivers out wide that can open things up for me even more than last year. I feel like I'm going to open things up for the receivers.

"It's going to be a good little one-two punch for the offense to kind of have me open things up for them and then they use their speed. Braden Lenzy, Deion, JT (Jayden Thomas), Joe (Wilkins) when he's back, those types of players to open things up for me."

And as for that Mackey Award snub last year (see tweets below from former tight end coach John McNulty), Mayer says he's not focused on it. 

"I would say right now I'm focused on being a football player, being the best football player I can be and being the best leader I can be," said Mayer. "Whatever happens after that, that's out of my control. I'm just going to try to be the best leader and be the best football player I can be."

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