Notre Dame returns three talented upperclassmen at tight end, but those three veterans better bring it in fall camp. When fall camp starts the Irish will welcome the nation’s best freshman tight end duo when Michael Mayer and Kevin Bauman arrive.
Senior Brock Wright, along with juniors Tommy Tremble and George Takacs, could form a potent combination at tight end in the fall, assuming they all improve their games. If they don’t, or if there is an injury, the talented freshmen will be nipping at their heels.
Even if the veterans play well, the freshmen should still challenge for playing time.
Even the best tight end recruits in the country don’t always make the same quick transition into college ball that wide receivers tend to make, mainly because the physical demands are more burdensome. That, however, is what makes Mayer such a unique prospect, he has the kind of size and skill that should make it very hard for the coaches to keep him on the sidelines, no matter how good the veterans are.
At 6-5 and 234 pounds, Mayer has a unique combination of length, size, speed, athleticism and ball skills. He was dominant at every major event he attended, he was outstanding at the All-American game and he was a brilliant prep player that led Alexandria (Ky.) Covington Catholic to a 29-1 record in his final two seasons.
Mayer was my highest graded Notre Dame tight end signee since Kyle Rudolph back in 2008, and his versatility adds to his ability to play right away. The talented freshman has experience lining up in the slot, outside and he can do damage attached. Mayer can stretch the field, he can work the middle zones, he’s a strong route runner for his age and Mayer shows top-notch ability to make contested catches.
Like all freshmen, Mayer will need to get stronger and keep adding good weight, and his blocking technique still needs work, but he should at the very least be a competent blocker as a freshman.
Simply put, barring injury Mayer is not a five-year player, so there is no need to redshirt him next season. If he’s ready, and I’ll be shocked if he isn’t, the Kentucky native needs to be on the field in some capacity next season. The talent and depth of the veterans means Mayer won’t need to play a high-volume role, but finding a niche for him early on will be important.
Bauman was a little bit more difficult to evaluate because there just wasn’t as much film available for him. What was available from his prep days, and what was available from him at various camps and 7on7 tournaments was quite impressive.
The New Jersey native might need a bit more weight room time than Mayer, and there’s merit to Bauman being a possible five-year player, so redshirting him in 2020 would make a lot more sense. But Bauman is a highly competitive young player that likely won’t take a redshirt season without a fight.
At 6-4 and 226 pounds he doesn’t quite yet have the girth you want in a tight end, but he’s got excellent hands, top-notch body control and his catch radius is quite impressive. His hands are extremely fast and his timing catch the ball is outstanding. He’s also more than willing to attack the ball even when he knows he’s going to get hit.
Bauman always caught my eye with his route running, and his ability to get separation out of his brakes stands out. He’s not an explosive athlete, but he’s a quality all-around athlete that can do a lot of the same things that Mayer can do in the pass game.
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