2018 Notre Dame Football Position and Prospect Analysis: Tight ends
SOUTH BEND – There are a number of things that Notre Dame Nation has come to expect from its favorite football program: The Fighting Irish will struggle in November; the weather will be awful for at least two of the home games; Kevin Stepherson will make a bone-headed decision that embarrasses himself, the program and the university; and the program will develop a great and productive tight end.
Or at least, that last one was the expectation at one time.
The program that has churned out all-time greats at the position has been on a bit of a dry spell in that regard, of late. But there are signs that a return to tight end glory is on the horizon in South Bend.
“Our whole offense is dictated on the players that we have,” second-year Fighting Irish offensive coordinator Chip Long told News-Sentinel.com earlier this month. “The guys that can sustain the tempo and go out there and execute day in and day out (will play). It could look different every single year and every single game.”
News-Sentinel.com sports reporter Tom Davis has been writing on Notre Dame football for nearly two decades and will take a daily look at the various position groups for next season and how the incoming class of prospects could impact the success of the Fighting Irish.
Today’s position: Tight ends
Coming Wednesday: Offensive line
George Takacs and Tommy Tremble
The production level for Notre Dame tight ends plummeted during the 2015 and 2016 seasons. After watching the likes of Kyle Rudolph, Tyler Eifert, Troy Niklas and Ben Koyack evolve into NFL-caliber athletes, the Irish saw the number of receptions at the position drop to 20 (in 2015) and a paltry 12 (2016).
The correction to that problem began last season and should continue into 2018. However, to what degree that new signees George Takacs and Tommy Tremble are a part of that resurgence remains to be seen. The two youngsters will probably be challenged to contribute due to the abundance of depth that Long has at his disposal.
Alize’ Mack led the group with 19 receptions last season, but his production dropped precipitously in the second half of the season.
Mack didn’t play in three of the last five games (he was suspended for the Citrus Bowl game), but his NFL future rests on a strong 2018 performance.
If only Mack were the lone obstacle for Tremble and Takacs to overcome, though.
Notre Dame is loaded at the position with depth, even if some of it is unproven.
Nic Weishar is returning for a fifth season, while Cole Kmet and Brock Wright are back for their sophomore seasons. However, Long likes the potential of both Tremble and Takacs, the latter of whom has already enrolled in South Bend.
“One thing that I like to do with the tight end group,” Long explained, “I obviously like to have size and athleticism and both (Tremble and Takacs) bring that. Both of them are a little different, which is good.”
Takacs is a monster from a physical standpoint for a freshman.
He is 6-foot-6 and 244 pounds and that is BEFORE he spends the next months in the Irish strength and conditioning program.
Like Wright last year, Takacs could be utilized as a blocker from day one next fall.
“Both of them are very athletic,” Long continued, “but George has spent more time with his hand on the ground.”
As for Tremble, he is more than likely the one that potentially could lead the position group in receptions someday.
The 6-foot-3, 224-pound Georgia native brings mobility and good hands to the field.
“Tommy has been more of a skilled wide out,” Long said.
Interestingly, it was Tremble’s ability on defense that really made an impression on Long.
“As I am evaluating tight ends nowadays,” Long said, “I want to see defensive film. I want to be able to see you put your face on something and strike. It is a big thing with the toughness that we want to have and Tommy did that.”
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