Notre Dame has a somewhat unproven group of tight ends, but the unit is deep and loaded from a talented standpoint. Its an ideal situation for first-year position coach John McNulty, who has the kind of talent and depth to force great competition at the position. The depth chart at tight end is such that anyone that gets on the field needs to have earned it.
One player that will get a shot at earning more playing time in 2020 is rising junior tight end George Takacs.
Takacs caught just two passes for 12 yards last season, and there is plenty of room where his game will need to improve in order for him to earn that additional playing time, but the tools are there.
KMET COMPARISONS ARE HARD TO IGNORE
Takacs seems to be a bit of the forgotten man at the position, suffering from middle child syndrome on the depth chart. When you break down his combination of traits and skills, however, Takacs is not a player that should be overlooked. The first thing that stands out is his similarities to the departed Cole Kmet.
Takacs isn’t quite as athletic or as fast as Kmet, but his skillset is similar and he’s actually longer than Kmet. Takacs is listed at 6-6 and 247 pounds on the Notre Dame depth chart, and he has the frame to add more weight without losing a step. His body control and hands are outstanding for such a big athlete, and it made him a dangerous pass catcher at the prep level.
The Naples, Fla. native has the kind of size-speed-ball skills combination that is hard to find. In high school, Takacs spent as much time lined up in the slot or outside as he did attached in a traditional tight end role. He showed off good route running instincts and he tracked the downfield throws quite well.
OPPORTUNITY TO FIND A NICHE
Takacs showed good blocking potential last season, and the one play he made last fall shows off the body control and ball skills I discussed above.
The traits discussed above and his willingness to get after it as a blocker should at the very least allow Takacs to battle for a rotation spot this season. He has the strength to be a strong blocker, and he plays with surprisingly strong pad level for such a tall athlete. When he’s locked in Takacs can be quite effective as a run blocker.
Plays like the one above and his potential as a blocker could result in Takacs earning that third tight end spot, and when the team gets into short-yardage or red zone situations he could become a weapon.
CONSISTENCY WILL BE THE KEY
Takacs shouldn’t just settle for being the number three tight end. He has the talent to turn a strong offseason and fall camp into more than that, and if he can stay focused, toughen up a bit and be more consistent he could even push Brock Wright and Tommy Tremble for playing time.
There were times last spring when Takacs looked like the second best tight end on the roster, behind only Kmet. He would create major matchup problems against safeties and linebackers, and he would made exceptional catches even when he was covered.
But then he would make a mistake, or the coach would get on him, and you wouldn’t see the same level of focus or the same level of effort and production. Then there would be days where you didn’t even notice Takacs being out there.
What he needs to do is build on the strong plays and the strong days, move past mistakes, be a more consistent player and better handle when things don't go his way.
If that version of George Takacs shows up in 2020 the Irish will have a very dangerous player on their hands. McNulty’s arrival should be a blessing for Takacs, and now the young tight end needs to take advantage of the opportunity in front of him and turn his talent into production.
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