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Sports

2021 tight end position preview

| Monday, April 19, 2021

Any Notre Dame fan who has watched the Irish over the last few years knows a discussion about the offense is not complete before conducting a thorough examination of the tight end position. There will be a new starting QB under center for the Irish in 2021, but who will he be able to rely on to make key receptions and pave the way for the run game? Without further ado, here is The Observer’s tight end breakdown for 2021.

Position Group: Tight End

2021 Depth Chart: senior George Takacs; sophomores Michael Mayer and Kevin Bauman; incoming freshmen Cane Berrong and Mitchell Evans

Key Departures:

Brock Wright

Wright has been a force flying under the radar for the Irish offense since he arrived as the No. 1 TE in his class. In his four years on the field, Wright saw action in 48 games and started in 12 of them, eight in his final season on the Irish roster. Contributing on both offense and special teams, Wright had his first career touchdown reception in the 2018 56-27 win over Wake Forest and recovered the onside kick to seal Notre Dame’s 30-27 victory over USC in 2019. His longest reception went for 40 yards in the 52-0 win over Bowling Green. 

One of the biggest things the Irish offense will miss from Wright after his 2020 season is his ability to run block. With three tight ends lined up, running backs Chris Tyree and Kyren Williams were able to take off. Losing Wright means losing that extra tier of strength in creating holes for the run game. 

Tommy Tremble

After spending his freshman year on the scout team, Tremble had a breakout sophomore season. He played in all 13 games, starting seven, and was fourth on the team in receptions with 16 catches for 183 yards and four touchdown receptions. In last year’s breakdown, the question was if Tremble would bring that energy back. 

That success did bleed into this season, as he started 10 of the twelve games and saw action in all of them. Tremble posted five receptions for 43 yards in the 2020 season opener against Duke and followed up that performance against the Blue Devils by leading the Irish with 61 receiving yards on three catches in the 52-0 rout of South Florida. 

Tremble also proved he was a versatile player, and his departure is going to be a big loss for the Notre Dame offense. Along with Wright, he was essential to the run game this season and also got a few plays in at full back during the victory over South Florida. 

Key Returnees:

Michael Mayer

The Irish expected a lot from the No. 2 tight end and five-star recruit in the 2020 class, and “Baby Gronk” delivered. Playing in all twelve games this year as a true freshman and contributing in all of them, Mayer’s place as the go-to tight end will be solidified this season. He recorded 73 receiving yards and a touchdown in the 45-3 win over Pittsburgh, which were both the highest marks among true freshmen and tied for the most by a tight end in the ACC that week. All five of those receptions were for first downs. 

Mayer made a career high seven receptions in the CFP Semifinals against Alabama for 62 yards. Personally ending his season on such a high note bodes well in terms of his contributions in the coming season. If he can maintain this momentum, Irish fans can maintain their high expectations for him. 

George Takacs

After spending his freshman season on the scout team with Tremble, Takacs saw action in six games his sophomore year and upped that to ten appearances his junior season, only missing the Louisville game and the ACC Championship. He scored his first touchdown during his sophomore year against Duke. 

While Takacs only had three receptions for the 2020 season — one more than the previous year — he has experience and can offer a level of leadership in 2021 while surrounded by such a young group. 

Photo Courtesy of Notre Dame Athletics
Notre Dame’s George Takacs (85) gets past North Carolina’s Tyrone Hopper (42), picking up 13 yards on a pass completion from quarterback Ian Book (12) to set up Notre Dame’s final score late in the fourth quarter and secure their 31-17 victory at North Carolina.

Kevin Bauman

As a four-star recruit and the No. 5 ranked tight end in his class, Bauman also saw the field this year as a true freshman. He made his first career start and first career catch for five yards in the win over South Florida. He saw action in three games after that. 

With two tight ends leaving and Mayer by his side for a little friendly competition, Bauman can make a move this offseason to see a lot more of the field than he did in 2021. Having only played four games this season, he could start to have some extended success with the Irish. 

Key Additions:

Cane Berrong

As a four-star recruit the No. 1 ranked tight end nationally, according to ESPN, Berrong should be a powerful addition to the Irish roster. At 6’3” and 215 pounds, he had a stellar high school junior season in 2019 with 43 catches for 486 yards and four touchdowns. Despite having his senior season impacted by COVID-19, he recreated similar numbers — 26 catches for 305 yards and again, four touchdowns. He should also have a decent amount of room to make his case for time on the field as the whole team gets used to a new quarterback at the helm.

Mitchell Evans

Evans is a three-star recruit and the No. 12 tight end in the country, according to ESPN. He had 19 catches for 306 yards and seven touchdowns, along with three rushes for 61 yards and a touchdown in 2019 at Ohio’s Wadsworth high school. In 2020, he proved just how versatile a player he is by stepping into the quarterback position, throwing for 2132 throwing yards and 23 touchdowns. Evans’ versatility can make him a standout recruit as the Irish coaching staff irons out their “go-to” roster for the 2021 season. 

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