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Notre Dame to reload at tight end with Heuerman

Chris Allen | Thursday, November 1, 2012

With current Notre Dame senior tight end Tyler Eifert eligible to enter the NFL Draft at the end of the 2012 season, the Irish are set to replenish the talent pipeline at the position after the April commitment of ESPN300 recruit Mike Heuerman.

The 6-foot-4 Heuerman, the No. 6 tight end in the 2013 recruiting class according to ESPN, is a player that will fit right in with the tradition of top receiving tight ends at Notre Dame, Irish recruiting expert Mike Frank said.

“[Heuerman’s] got great speed to get vertical, which is what makes Tyler Eifert such a great player,” said Frank, who runs the ESPN-affiliated Irish Sports Daily. “He can put a lot of stress on safeties. He’s got that kind of physical ability. He’s not as tall as Eifert, but he can still make that signature acrobatic catch. A lot of people will be surprised at how well he’s going to do.”

Frank said Heuerman, who hails from Naples, Fla., possesses the confidence and mentality that made him an ideal fit for Irish coach Brian Kelly’s program.

“Heuerman is the epitome of what Kelly wants in a football player. He is, when you watch him on the field, he’s the toughest kid out there,” Frank said. “There’s just no question. He’s the most physical, he’s the most mentally tough and he goes 100 miles an hour every single play.

“He’s also got that confidence about him that great players have, even along the borderline of swagger or cockiness. To be honest, that’s not a bad thing. The best players have that. It’s something that drives them.”

Upon signing with the Irish, Heuerman will be the latest in a long line of under-the-radar tight end recruits to join the Notre Dame ranks. Former Irish tight ends – and current NFL players – Anthony Fasano, John Carlson and even All-American Eifert were not blue-chip recruits but had great success in an Irish uniform. Frank said the Irish tradition of producing great tight end talent was a huge factor in Heuerman’s commitment.

“I think the Notre Dame tight end tradition is a big reason why Heuerman committed. I think the way Notre Dame uses its tight ends was attractive to him,” Frank said. “He loves the biggest stage possible, too. He’s got that Everett Golson-like attitude where the bigger stage the better it is for him. Then obviously there is the education, and the things you can do after graduation with that Notre Dame degree which was very attractive to him.”

With Heuerman in the fold added to a group of more physical, blocking-type tight ends in junior Alex Welch and sophomore Troy Niklas, Frank said the future Notre Dame tight end corps is going to be very diverse.

“It’s going to be very interesting to see where things go once Eifert leaves. There’s a lot of different people in play,” he said. “When you look at Heuerman, he’s your [New England Patriots tight end] Rob Gronkowski-type player who is going to, like Eifert, line up out wide and push down the field in the vertical passing game. Now, Alex Welch, coming back from his injury, is going to be a devastating blocker. He can do a lot of things helping the run game and catching balls in that 10-to-17 yard range.

“But what you’ll probably see more than anything is Troy Niklas evolving into a pass-catching threat and be a factor in both aspects of the offense.”


For more on Notre Dame recruiting, check out Mike Frank’s irishsportsdaily.com Email Mike at [email protected] and tell him The Observer sent you.

Contact Chris Allen at [email protected]