Irish A-to-Z: Durham Smythe

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After two seasons waiting his turn, junior tight end Durham Smythe is ready for his opportunity to be the next great Notre Dame tight end. The Texas native, who’ll open up his junior season against the in-state team he was long committed to as a recruit, has the inside track on a starting job with no incumbent, the first time in a long time that’s happened.

After a few years of diversifying the talent pool at the position, Smythe still looks like the prototype for the position. And while there’s an emerging crew of talented options for Scott Booker’s position group, the smart money says this is Smythe’s job to lose.

With Mike Heuerman no longer on the roster, let’s take a look at the Irish’s most tenured tight end.

 

DURHAM SMYTHE
6’4.5″, 245 lbs.
Junior, No. 80, TE

 

RECRUITING PROFILE

A long-time Texas commitment, Smythe flipped pretty late in the process, taking an official visit to South Bend in January. An early target and commitment with the Longhorns, Smythe looked at Stanford before finalizing things with Notre Dame.

 

PLAYING CAREER

Freshman Season (2013): Did not see action.

Sophomore Season (2014): Played in all 13 games for the Irish. Made one catch, a seven-yarder against Arizona State.

 

WHAT WE SAID LAST YEAR

I was right to say we should keep our expectations for Smythe’s breakout season in check. But I thought he’d have more than one catch.

It’s important to keep our expectations in line with what Smythe is right now: A young No. 2 tight end in an offense that’s going to be primarily using one tight end. That’s not to say that Smythe won’t do big things in his career at Notre Dame, but making 10 catches this year seems to be on the high side of expectations.

Of course, offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock has a soft spot for tight ends, and formationally, Smythe could be used to create mismatches or give a different look to the offense. But after looking back at the past few seasons of stats, it’s not fair to expect Smythe to work his way onto the Mackey Watch List just yet.

Still, when Koyack graduates and moves on to the next level, Smythe looks like the heir apparent. That means he’ll likely get the same national attention afforded to the Irish’s starting tight end, continuing an impressive run of Kyle Rudolph, Tyler Eifert and Troy Niklas, all at a position many didn’t expect to produce much under Kelly.

 

FUTURE POTENTIAL

Not every tight end Notre Dame brings in can be Kyle Rudolph or Tyler Eifert. But with three seasons of eligibility remaining, I think the upside for Smythe is somewhere between that duo and Ben Koyack.

I think the days of an every-down tight end are finished in South Bend. And I think it’s because there’s too much talent at the position, and nobody has already cemented their place in the rotation.

Smythe appears to be the best do-everything player on the roster. But with intriguing options like Alizé Jones, Nic Weishar and Tyler Luatua, there could be some specialization going on a year after Notre Dame didn’t seem to get the best out of Koyack when he was an every-down player.

 

CRYSTAL BALL

If Koyack caught 30 balls last season, I think we should put the ceiling around 20 for Smythe, especially considering the variety the Irish have at the position, not to mention the other weapons that exist in the passing game.

But maybe calibrating Smythe’s season by catches isn’t exactly the fairest way to look at things. Especially when he’ll need to prove he can be a competent blocker at the point-of-attack if he’s going to be the starter at the position.

Everything we’ve heard through spring ball and the early days of fall camp have the staff believing Smythe can handle that role. But with so many new variables in the Irish offensive attack, it’ll be up to Smythe to prove he can stay on the field, and then anything else that comes of it should be gravy.

 

THE 2015 IRISH A-to-Z
Josh Adams, RB
Josh Barajas, OLB
Nicky Baratti, S
Alex Bars, OL
Asmar Bilal, OLB
Hunter Bivin, OL
Grant Blankenship, DE
Jonathan Bonner, DE
Miles Boykin, WR
Justin Brent, WR
Greg Bryant, RB
Devin Butler, CB
Jimmy Byrne, OL
Daniel Cage, DL
Amir Carlisle, RB
Nick Coleman, DB
Te’von Coney, LB
Shaun Crawford, DB
Scott Daly, LS
Sheldon Day, DL
Michael Deeb, LB
Micah Dew-Treadway, DL
Steve Elmer, RG
Matthias Farley, DB
Nicco Fertitta, DB
Tarean Folston, RB
Will Fuller, WR
Jarrett Grace, LB
Jalen Guyton, WR
Mark Harrell, OL
Jay Hayes, DL
Mike Heuerman, TE
Kolin Hill, DE
Tristen Hoge, C
Corey Holmes, WR
Chase Hounshell, TE
Torii Hunter, Jr. WR
Alizé Jones, TE
Jarron Jones, DL
DeShone Kizer, QB
Tyler Luatua, TE
Cole Luke, CB
Nick Martin, C
Greer Martini, LB
Jacob Matuska, DL
Mike McGlinchey, OT
Colin McGovern, OL
Peter Mokwuah, DL
John Montelus, OL
Nyles Morgan, LB
Sam Mustipher, OL
Quenton Nelson, OL
Tyler Newsome, P
Romeo Okwara, DE
James Onwualu, LB
C.J. Prosise, WR/RB
Doug Randolph, LB/DE
Max Redfield, S
Corey Robinson, WR
Trevor Ruhland, OL
CJ Sanders, WR
Joe Schmidt, LB
Avery Sebastian, S
Elijah Shumate, S
Jaylon Smith, LB