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Notre Dame Football

Notre Dame Tight End Room Working to get Back to Full Strength

March 26, 2023

Due to the departure of Michael Michael to the NFL, no position group lost more production from the 2022 season. Mayer led the team in receiving by catching 67 passes for 809 yards and nine touchdowns. 

The rest of the tight ends combined to snag seven catches for 94 yards and a score. 

The room is loaded with inexperienced talent, but there should be more opportunities for the other tight ends to prove themselves.

Last fall, Notre Dame quarterbacks targeted a tight end 117 times, with 101 going to Mayer. 

Notre Dame 2022 Tight End Production

Name Reception Yards Targets Touchdowns
Michal Mayer 67 809 101 9
Kevin Bauman 3 44 3 0
Mitchell Evans 3 39 7 1
Holden Staes 1 11 2 0
Eli Raridon 0 0 1 0
Davis Sherwood 0 0 1 0

The group feels it can collectively replace much of Mayer’s production with more targets to go around.

“It’s not just me that has to step up, everybody in the room has to step up,” rising junior tight end Mitchell Evans said. “When a guy like Mike leaves, there’s a huge emphasis on keeping that standard up. Coach [Gerad] Parker always tells us, ‘Standard doesn’t leave when he leaves.’ 

“Everybody is taking on a bigger role, studying more, using what Mike did—his techniques alive because he showed how it’s done.”

The biggest priority for the five tight ends currently on campus is getting and keeping everyone healthy. 

Kevin Bauman and Eli Raridon rode exercise bikes during the first three spring practices as they recovered from early fall ACL tears. 

Both are at the point where they’re running and jumping but won’t be ready for football-specific drills for a few more months. 

“It's such a great feeling to get back moving and feel like an athlete,” Bauman said.

While Bauman and Raridon would prefer to see each other at full health, they’ve also realized the benefits of going through such an exhibiting injury together. 

“We push each other. We're here for each other,” Bauman said. “There are things that we're going through right now that we can really relate to. Maybe some other people can't necessarily. 

“I hate to say it’s good, but it's been good to have a buddy to go through this with and to be here for each other, we push each other and lock in and commit to this together. It's been helpful, it's been a blessing in disguise.”

Bauman and Raridon hate watching from the sideline, but they’ve still found ways to progress. 

They’re both actively engaged with the playbook. Bauman has stepped as a leader, while Raridon continues to add size and strength, which should help him add enable him to be an even bigger asset to the run game this fall. 

“When I came in here, I felt like I was definitely one of the strongest tight ends,” Raridon said. “The only thing that was keeping me from blocking was my weight. I was about 240 during the fall. Because of my strength, I could block pretty well. I’m at 250 [pounds] right now. Hopefully, I will be 260 by fall camp. Adding that extra weight and putting on strength with that, I feel like that will make me a really good blocking tight end.” 

Evans is now the leading candidate to become the No. 1 tight end. With Mayer sitting out, he snagged three receptions for 39 yards and a touchdown in Notre Dame’s 45-38 win over South Carolina in the Gator Bowl. 

“I feel like I attacked it and did a good job,” Evans said. “I showed people like ya, Mike’s gone—in memory of Mike—but we do what we have to do. It’s Tight End U. We got to keep it up.” 

Evans also missed Notre Dame’s first seven games in 2022 after he suffered a broken foot in offseason workouts, which required surgery in mid-July. Notre Dame needs him to stay healthy the entire year.

Holden Staes and Davis Sherwood are undersized at 240 pounds, but their agility and ferocity in the run game give them a unique blend of speed and position flexibility. For instance, Staes is agile enough to flex out wide or line up as an H-back. 

In coming freshman tight end Cooper Flanagan is a consensus top-200 prospect who already possesses good size for the position at 6-5 and 240 pounds. He’s also a quality blocker that should be able to provide support in the run game if called upon. 

Sure, the room may experience growing pains while adjusting to life without Mayer, arguably the program’s most outstanding tight end of all time. Still, the standards and demands of the position group will remain the same. 

“We’re Tight End U, so I feel like Coach Parker is still going to utilize us,” Evans said.
“Great running backs room, and receivers. I feel like Coach Parker will find a way to get all of us involved with different sets and different personnel groupings.”

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