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Irish A-to-Z: Mike Heuerman

Jul 12, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT

Heuerman

After spending 2013 on the sidelines, opportunity comes to Mike Heuerman in 2014. With Troy Niklas a surprise entrant in the NFL Draft and the departure of veteran Alex Welch to Miami (Ohio), Heuerman and fellow sophomore Durham Smythe are the next men in for Brian Kelly and the Irish offense.

At tight end, that usually means a front line player. Since Anthony Fasano arrived in South Bend, Notre Dame’s run of excellence at the position has been nothing short of amazing. But if Heuerman is to be the next great one, it’ll be from a slighty different mold.

Let’s take a closer look at Naples, Florida native.

 

MIKE HEUERMAN
6’3.5″ 225-lbs.
Sophomore, No. 9

 

RECRUITING PROFILE

When it comes to elite recruits, Heuerman certainly had the offers to match the profile. With Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, Miami, Ohio State, Michigan and Oregon on his offer list, it was a battle between Ohio State and Notre Dame for Heuerman, whose brother Jeff starts for Urban Meyer.

But the Irish beat out the Buckeyes for Heuerman, who enrolled early and participated in spring practice. He also served as a chief recruiter for the Irish. Here’s what Kelly had to say about Heuerman, who spent most of his senior season in high school as a blocker and mostly wreaked havoc as a defensive end.

“That tight end position as you know, we like to use it in multiple fashions, whether he’s split out as a wide receiver or if he’s in‑line blocking or moving him around, Mike fits that profile,” Kelly said.  He was an early commit to us.  He was part of the interesting Irish Mob, if you will, this year, which was taking its own life form online and through Twitter and Facebook, and he was one of those guys recruiting other players in this class.  And I think that’s a great thing.  That says a lot about what he feels about Notre Dame and the kind of kids he wants in the class, and Mike was active in that.  But he’s going to be a fine football player for us.  He continues to develop at that position.  We’ve got an outstanding one.”

 

PLAYING CAREER

Freshman Season (2013): Did not see action.

 

UPSIDE POTENTIAL

College coaches at some of the best programs around the country saw something special in Heuerman, who may not have had the elite recruiting ranking of some, but certainly had an impressive cohort when you look at his offers. Heuerman is an intriguing player, an off-profile player that at 6-foot-3.5 and only 225 pounds is essentially Michael Floyd’s size… when he was a freshman.

That alone makes Heuerman look like the niche player of the sophomore tight end duo, with Smythe looking capable of playing attached to the line of scrimmage. But even that might be too limited of a view on his skills, as his struggles keeping on weight belie the fact that he’s sturdy and strong in the weight room.

If the Irish are indeed playing in a new-look offense that utilizes the spread and speed, then Heuerman is the perfect candidate to starting doing some of the things we still haven’t seen in Kelly’s offense. And with the Irish playbook capable of flexing tight ends out wide and utilizing size mismatches, Heuerman seems as good of a candidate as any to find playing time wreaking havoc in the flats, down the field, or working as a still-never-used H-back.

 

CRYSTAL BALL

Having just committed a few paragraphs to ways the Irish offense could use Heuerman, I’m still skeptical that we’ll see that many new wrinkles in Kelly and Mike Denbrock’s system. And while I don’t think Heuerman’s lack of prototypical size is going to be a death blow, I still think he’s a work in progress that will need to prove he can block before he gets the opportunity to catch the football.

One place I think Heuerman will help immediately is special teams. With the Irish struggling to cover kicks in 2013, Heuerman is the perfect combination of power and speed that can run down the field and make a tackle.

The depth chart at the position certainly works in Heuerman’s favor… for now. Ben Koyack will most likely have every down duties. Smythe has drawn some rave reviews this summer and Kelly spoke highly of him during bowl prep as well. But before freshmen Tyler Luatua (another undersized blocker) and Nic Weishar (still a string bean) begin competing, Heuerman will have a chance to establish a niche in the offense.

So for a redshirt freshman will four years of competition remaining, 2014 could be an important year.

  1. whiskeystraight - Jul 12, 2014 at 12:45 PM

    Heuerman and Luatua both scream H-back. Kelly has not really used anyone in that role so I am surprised that both players committed. I will be interested to see if they get a chance to play. If they do, where will they be lining up? What will their roles be?

  2. shaunodame - Jul 12, 2014 at 4:09 PM

    Mike’s brother Jeff was used absolutely perfectly at Ohio State. Urban Meyer lined him up as an in-line blocker as an H back and even split out wide. I see Mike growing into a very similar role. He may be a little undersized right now to line up as a true attached in-line Tight End but he should absolutely be able to contribute everywhere else this year.

    If he isn’t able to put it all together soon I think Tyler Luatua will be absolutely (and immediately) chomping at the bit to surpass Mike on the Depth Chart. Luatua is already heavier and more physical than Heuerman and it’s only a matter of time before he has a firm grasp on the Playbook, and eventually the position.

    These are all champagne problems of course as this is probably one of our deepest and most talented position groups. Tight End U, baby!

  3. yaketyyacc - Jul 13, 2014 at 5:57 AM

    can’t imagine someone sought by so many top programs, not excelling at the tight end position.
    if Heuerman’s Achilles heel is blocking, then I suppose that’s what coaches are supposed to teach.
    Com’on coaches, you’ve had this young lad for a year. Heuerman certainly has the potential, so give him the tools, and he will give Irish fans something to smile about.
    Heuerman, just a hint. Sometimes, coaches need a little push too, Tell them to take their eyes off of their paychecks, and remember the best paycheck increaser is a successful team, and a successful team is one that is well coached.

  4. onward2victory - Jul 13, 2014 at 9:41 PM

    Wasn’t there rumors of him transferring??

  5. bernhtp - Jul 15, 2014 at 8:37 AM

    The official weight/size report from fall camp will tell us something about Mike’s progress. It will be hard for him to be effective if he stays at 225 lbs.

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