No. 9 Notre Dame breezes through Bowling Green defense as if it has seen it before


SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Notre Dame finally knows how it feels to go up against a Brian VanGorder defense. More precisely, the No. 9 Irish (4-1) know how it feels to go through a VanGorder defense, as they did over and over again Saturday in a 52-0 victory against Bowling Green (1-4)

Notre Dame turned the below scoring summary into a game of Mad Libs in the first half as the Irish passing game picked apart the Falcons and defensive coordinator VanGorder’s scheme. First, senior quarterback Ian Book found sophomore tight end Tommy Tremble uncovered in the end zone. Then he connected with junior tight end Cole Kmet for a score, somehow open before Book even received the shotgun snap.

Two touchdown passes to senior receiver Chase Claypool followed before Book hit senior receiver Javon McKinley for a fifth tally and a 35-0 lead before halftime.

“My job is to get the ball out there on the perimeter,” Book said. “We’ve got some really skilled guys out there. It’s my job to get the ball to them, and I was definitely happy with the way the o-line protected today. They did a great job, I had a lot of time.

“I was able to push the ball downfield, and [offensive coordinator Chip Long] talks about it all the time, great players make big plays, and that’s what we needed. We had a few of those tonight. We’re going to need it for the rest of the season.”

Only a McKinley drop in the third quarter prevented Book from tying Brady Quinn’s single-game record of six touchdown passes, set in 2005 against BYU. Book finished with 261 yards and five scores on 16-of-20 passing, leading the way for an offense that gashed the Falcons for 573 total yards.

Kelly knew Book was on the verge of tying Quinn and consciously gave Long the go-ahead to take a shot at it. After two long rushes got Notre Dame into the red zone, three passes followed, the final one being the underneath route to McKinley, who nonetheless finished with five receptions for 104 yards.

Once that ball hit the turf, Book’s night was over, partly because he was chasing only a tied record. To break it would have been an entirely different conversation.

“I told Chip, ‘You’ve got one series with him. If it works, fine. If it doesn’t, no big deal,’” Kelly said. “Because it’s tying the record. As I told him, tying the record is ‘meh.’ If you’re going to break the record, then maybe we’ll do something about it.”

While not as filled with highlights, the Irish defense’s total showing may have been more impressive. After all, Notre Dame scored 66 points less than a month ago. The last time the Irish shut out an opponent was all the way back in 2014 against Michigan.

That was the rare moment when a VanGorder-coached defense was not a distinct liability. Obviously, no one on the current roster was around for that 31-0 victory against the Wolverines.

Senior defensive end Julian Okwara and senior safety Jalen Elliott were apparently aware of their careers’ lack of a shutout. From the sidelines and watching the reserves, they did not dare to think of it as a possibility until it was a reality.

“When the clock hit zero in the fourth quarter,” said Okwara, who finished with three tackles including two for loss and one sack. “Obviously, anything can happen. They could fumble, pick it up and run. You don’t stop playing until the last down when the clock hit zero. That’s when we for sure knew.”

Considering Bowling Green gained all of 228 yards, its longest completion went for 24 yards, and its only genuine threat at scoring was snuffed out when Okwara himself blocked a third-quarter field goal attempt, the reality of the shutout was apparent long before the clock hit quadruple zeroes. In fact, after that field goal block, the Falcons never again crossed midfield.


Well, maybe that is not entirely fair. Notre Dame opened with a three-and-out on its first possession. Book completed two passes, but junior receiver Michael Young lost two yards on the second of them and Book’s scramble on third down never stood a chance of reaching the chains.

The Irish defense, though, then forced a three-and-out, and Notre Dame turned to senior running back Tony Jones. The first four snaps of that drive were handed to him, and Jones took them for 40 yards, on his way to finishing with 102 yards on just seven carries.

Book followed that up with a 23-yard pass to McKinley before throwing to Tremble in the end zone.

So if the turning point was not the opening kickoff; perhaps it was those handoffs to Jones that showed how soft Bowling Green’s defense would be. Either way, the Irish knew they had a talent advantage and saw fit to rely on it.

“[The Falcons] were undermanned today,” Kelly said. “They battled. They played as hard as they could. But certainly it was a situation where we were a better football team.”

None of the touchdown catches were particularly difficult plays. Tremble outright beat his man, and Kmet was somehow forgotten by the defense. Claypool’s second touchdown came on an underneath route with enough of a cushion he could have backpedaled into the end zone, while McKinley’s snag was largely the result of Book scrambling to buy time, though McKinley showed awareness to find an open spot in the defense, conveniently in the end zone.

But Claypool’s first score came on a downfield route, and Book simply taking that shot is a step forward in his season, let alone hitting it without trouble.

“We had some traditional calls down the field,” Kelly said. “There were some things that I thought [Book] saw the field well today.”

Irish senior quarterback Ian Book tied a career-high with five touchdown passes during Notre Dame’s 52-0 win against Bowling Green on Saturday. He first set the mark just three weeks ago against New Mexico. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Inevitably, this has to be Book. Nine different receivers caught passes, only McKinley and Claypool gaining more than 40 yards, the former partly because he played with both Book and sophomore quarterback Phil Jurkovec in mop-up work, the latter largely due to that 34-yard touchdown reception.

Only Jones rushed for more than 30 yards among running backs, but he never found the end zone.

No defender made more than six tackles or one sack. Unless giving this nod to Okwara’s outreached hand for keeping alive the shutout, the efforts were more collective than individual.

Book’s stats, however, were clearly exemplary. Looking at his numbers heading into halftime underscores such: 15-of-17 for 255 yards and five scores. He was averaging 15 yards per pass attempt, not too far off the Notre Dame single-game record of 17.5 set by Jimmy Clausen against Nevada in 2009.

That is two records Book approached in one afternoon. Suffice it to say, it was a good day, especially coming off an uneven performance a week ago.

“Going through all my progressions, staying in the pocket, delivering the ball, getting the ball to playmakers,” Book said. “It was a great week to do that. I’ve got to do it every week.”

Heading into the weekend, the Irish had converted 16-of-50 third downs. Against VanGorder’s defense, they successfully moved the chains on 8-of-11 third downs.

Yes, this was against an outmanned, outgunned, outschemed defense, but it was still a change from one of Notre Dame’s primary failings thus far this season.

Bowling Green head coach Scott Loeffler spent the last three seasons at Boston College as the offensive coordinator, facing Notre Dame in 2017. He is more familiar with the Irish than most first-year MAC head coaches would be.

“This might be their best defense they’ve had in a long time,” he said. “I said that earlier in the week. They’ve done a great job recruiting. I think there’s not a hole on their defense. They’re long, they’re athletic, they’re different. And they’ll be a top-five team. They’re a good football team — great football team, in my opinion.”

First Quarter
9:32 — Notre Dame touchdown. Tommy Tremble 17-yard pass from Ian Book. Jonathan Doerer PAT good. Notre Dame 7, Bowling Green 0. (6 plays, 80 yards, 1:58)
6:51 — Notre Dame touchdown. Cole Kmet 21-yard pass from Book. Doerer PAT good. Notre Dame 14, Bowling Green 0. (3 plays, 46 yards, 0:59)
4:44 — Notre Dame touchdown. Chase Claypool 34-yard pass from Book. Doerer PAT good. Notre Dame 21, Bowling Green 0. (4 plays, 50 yards, 1:210)

Second Quarter
6:49 — Notre Dame touchdown. Claypool 8-yard pass from Book. Doerer PAT good. Notre Dame 28, Bowling Green 0. (4 plays, 53 yards, 1:27)
1:24 — Notre Dame touchdown. Javon McKinley 25-yard pass from Book. Doerer PAT good. Notre Dame 35, Bowling Green 0. (6 plays, 78 yards, 3:03)

Third Quarter
7:12 — Notre Dame field goal. Doerer 27 yards. Notre Dame 38, Bowling Green 0. 6 plays, 68 yards, 1:42)
2:23 — Notre Dame touchdown. Avery Davis 4-yard pass from Phil Jurkovec. Harrison Leonard PAT good. Notre Dame 45, Bowling Green 0. (6 plays, 75 yards, 1:48)

Fourth Quarter
6:56 — Notre Dame touchdown. C’Bo Flemister 1-yard run. Leonard PAT good. Notre Dame 52, Bowling Green 0. (12 plays, 79 yards, 5:50)

Notre Dame 99-to-0: No. 83 Jayden Thomas, junior receiver, probable No. 1 target in 2023

Notre Dame Spring Football Game
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Listed measurements: 6-foot-1 ½, 220 pounds.
2023-24 year, eligibility: A junior, Thomas has three years of eligibility remaining thanks to playing in only three games as a freshman.
Depth Chart: Thomas’s moments of success in 2022 made him a clear starter for this coming season, the only question being at what position. By the end of spring practices, Thomas looked like the frontrunner at the boundary position, a similar big body as past boundary stars Miles Boykin, Chase Claypool and Kevin Austin, though significantly shorter than those predecessors.
Recruiting: Considered the No. 45 receiver in the class of 2021 by, Thomas turned down most of the SEC as he chose Notre Dame, most notably his homestate Georgia. And any recruit chased by the Bulldogs in the last four years stands out more than usual given the overall quality of Georgia’s roster.

Thomas played all of 14 snaps as a freshman, spread across three November blowouts, but in practices leading up to the 2021 Fiesta Bowl, there was increasing hype around him possibly contributing. Then, Thomas did not play against Oklahoma State, despite then-Irish quarterback Jack Coan setting a program record with 70 dropbacks while throwing to effectively just three receivers.

That literal no-show threw Thomas’s progress into doubt. Was the hype real or the product of a fluke bowl practice?

Thomas proved it real with 25 catches for 361 yards and three touchdowns last season, including five snags for 66 yards in the Gator Bowl win against South Carolina. Of those 25 receptions, 18 gained a first down, including eight on third down and another pair on second-and-long. When Notre Dame needed a chunk gain and tight end Michael Mayer was covered, Thomas was the most frequent beneficiary.

2021: 3 games.
2022: 13 games, 7 starts; 25 catches for 361 yards and three touchdowns, highlighted by three catches for 80 yards and a score against Navy.

Thomas is an avid golfer, at least as much as a Division I football player can be. (Scroll to the last picture in this Instagram post to see evidence of such.) Given NBC may be the biggest broadcast partner in golf, one would think some opportunity could exist for Thomas down the road, be it with a sponsor or simply a day watching a tournament from an up-close vantage point.

Until then, Thomas offers personalized videos for fans via Cameo.

Thomas excelled out of the slot last season, many of those first-down gains coming when he worked downfield just past the linebacker level but still in front of the safeties. That positioning was advantageous for Thomas, and he knew it.

“In the slot, I definitely feel like I can get mismatches, whether that’s a nickel, smaller nickel, safety or even a linebacker,” Thomas said this spring. “None of those people can guard me at all.”

But with senior Chris Tyree moving to receiver from running back, slot is most likely filled by his speed. Moving Thomas to boundary will require some physical growth from him, even if some analysts already mistake him for a tight end.

“Definitely in the offseason, the spring, got to gain a little bit more muscle just to help me with my physicality and also speed,” Thomas said.

“The spring version of Thomas was tantalizing. A leg injury played a role in his hushed freshman season, as did the strong play of Kevin Austin. Now fully healthy and without any clear-cut starter ahead of him, Thomas broke through. He may not be towering, but he has a wide frame, its own version of a size advantage. He ran a 4.6-second 40-yard dash before arriving at Notre Dame, better speed than one expects when looking at him.

“That combination is what the Irish had in mind when they chased the Peach State product. That combination could make him a 2022 starter. At the very least, he will be a contributor.

“Notre Dame needs him to be.

“When the Irish face Ohio State (104 days), they will have just six or seven healthy scholarship receivers. One of those will be a former walk-on, Matt Salerno. Another will be a freshman yet to partake in a single practice, Tobias Merriweather. The ‘or seven’ will be sixth-year Avery Davis, recovering from an ACL torn in November. It seems increasingly likely fifth-year Joe Wilkins is not yet full-go after suffering a Lisfranc injury this spring.

“Notre Dame will hardly have a two-deep depth chart at receiver, so each available will be needed.

“And this spring suggested Thomas will be up to that task. If all he needs is chances like he got this spring, then he will have them. If he can produce — especially before Wilkins returns later in the season — then the Irish will continue going to him; they will have no one else to go to.

“A dozen catches from Thomas this season may seem like minimal production, but that would be enough to force defenses to acknowledge him on routes, opening up the field for the likes of [Braden] Lenzy, [Lorenzo] Styles and star tight end Michael Mayer. If he builds that out to 20 catches, then suddenly Notre Dame’s offense may be nearing a worthwhile hum. …

“Lenzy should be gone in 2023. Davis certainly will be. Wilkins’ injury throws some uncertainty into his projections. But either way, the time will fully arrive for the Irish stellar 2021 receiver recruiting to pay off.

“Pulling in a trio of four-star receivers was unlike Notre Dame of late. It had not snagged that many four-star receivers in one class since 2015. In the five cycles between those two classes, the Irish snagged a total of 5 four- or five-star receivers, lowlighted by not signing a single receiver in the class of 2019.

“Things have bettered in this regard, or they at least seem to be, but for now, Notre Dame still needs to make the most of every possible perimeter playmaker it has on its roster. All three of Styles, [Deion] Colzie and Thomas need to pan out for the Irish to sniff the Playoff in the next two or three seasons.

“A full season of snaps with that dozen catches could propel Thomas into a strong offseason and such rewards.”

Thomas met and exceeded last year’s modest expectations, more impressive when remembering he was not a consistent starter until the season’s final month. Stepping into a more leading role with a far more prolific quarterback directing the offense should amplify Thomas’s stats by default.

Are 50 catches possible? Yes, though that may be about Thomas’s ceiling this season, given Wake Forest transfer quarterback Sam Hartman should want to spread the ball around his targets, and 50 receptions could be nearly a fifth of Hartman’s completions.

More precisely, Thomas continuing to provide needed chunk gains would propel Notre Dame’s offense in ways that other receivers may be unable. Continuing at last year’s rate of first downs while catching 50 passes would equal moving the chains 36 times. That may be extreme, but doing so twice per week would make Thomas one of the more crucial receiving targets in recent Irish offenses.

All of Notre Dame’s receivers, aside from former walk-on Matt Salerno, may return in 2024, and the junior duo of Thomas and Deion Colzie should be the established leaders next year. With that acknowledged reality, pondering a transfer from Thomas would be foolish.

It would take a far more prolific season than 50 catches for Thomas to ponder the NFL, not boasting elite speed or shiftiness which are the usual musts for early draft entrants among receivers.

In other words, Thomas may be looking to snag triple-digit catches across the next two seasons, if not more.

Thomas’ leadership, freshmen arrivals already improve Notre Dame’s receivers room

The summer countdown begins anew, Rylie Mills to Deion Colzie
No. 99 Rylie Mills, senior defensive tackle, moving back inside from end
No. 98 Devan Houstan, early-enrolled four-star defensive tackle
No. 97 Gabriel Rubio, junior defensive tackle, one of three Irish DTs with notable experience
No. 95 Tyson Ford, sophomore defensive tackle, up 30 pounds from a year ago
No. 92 Aidan Keanaaina, a senior defensive tackle now ‘fully healthy’ after a 2022 torn ACL
No. 91 Aiden Gobaira, sophomore defensive end, former four-star recruit
No. 90* Brenan Vernon, incoming freshman defensive end, four-star recruit
No. 90* Boubacar Traore, incoming freshman defensive end, four-star recruit
No. 88 Mitchell Evans, the next starter at ‘TE U’
No. 86* Cooper Flanagan, incoming freshman tight end, four-star recruit
No. 85 Holden Staes, sophomore tight end, up 20 pounds in a year
No. 84 Kevin Bauman, senior tight end coming off a torn ACL
Rhode Island transfer safety Antonio Carter gives Notre Dame desperately needed backline depth

One defensive lineman drops from Notre Dame’s class of 2024, consensus four-star end Loghan Thomas joins


Only a few hours after a consensus four-star defensive lineman de-committed from Notre Dame, the Irish landed a pledge from consensus four-star defensive end Loghan Thomas (Paetow High School; Katy, Texas) on Wednesday evening. After a visit to South Bend this weekend, Thomas chose Notre Dame over finalists Georgia, Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Arizona.

LSU, Texas, Texas A&M and USC were among the others to offer Thomas a scholarship.

A two-year starter already in high school, the 6-foot-4, 210-pound Thomas’s body-type alone likely caught some recruiters’ attention. On top of that, he tested well at recruiting events following his junior season. ranks Thomas the No. 9 weakside defensive end in the class of 2024, the No. 30 overall prospect in the state of Texas and the No. 162 recruit in the entire class, all fitting for a player who has used his length to star at a strong level of high school football.

Length has long — pun intended — been a focus for Irish head coach Marcus Freeman along the defensive line, and Thomas’s combines with enough strength to make arm tackles without much worry of a broken carry. His stride is long enough to quickly cover ground in the backfield.

Thomas plays mostly out of a two-point stance, upright, so learning the nuances of rushing the passer from a three-point stance will be the first piece of growth ahead of him at the collegiate level. Adding some heft to his frame will also be on the to-do list, though that should occur naturally, at least to some extent, in the next 18 months regardless.

Thomas joins Notre Dame’s class the same day consensus four-star defensive tackle Owen Wafle (Hun School; Princeton, N.J.) halted a year-long commitment.

“This decision was not made lightly, as Notre Dame has a rich football legacy that I truly admire,” Wafle wrote on Twitter. “However, I believe it’s important for me to explore other opportunities and find the best fit for my personal and athletic development.”

With Wafle’s de-commitment and Thomas’s commitment, the Irish continue to have 16 expected signees in the class of 2024 and three defensive linemen, Thomas joining consensus three-star end Cole Mullins (Mill Creek H.S.; Hoschton, Ga.) and four-star end Bryce Young (Charlotte Christian; N.C.).

Notre Dame announces 2023 NBC kickoff times, led by Ohio State and USC in prime time

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Notre Dame will host two preseason top-25 teams, possibly both top-10 teams, in back-to-back home games in prime time in 2023, the Irish and NBC announced Wednesday afternoon. Ohio State’s Sept. 23 visit and USC’s Oct. 14 arrival will both kick off at 7:30 ET.

Coming off a College Football Playoff appearance and third in the last four years, the Buckeyes look poised to again contend for the Big Ten title and a possible Playoff bid. Not to be too blunt, but the trip to Notre Dame will be Ohio State’s first genuine challenge of 2023, opening the season at Indiana before welcoming FCS-level Youngstown State and then Western Kentucky.

Notre Dame will have already played four games, including a trip abroad and a trip to North Carolina State.

That season-opening venture to Dublin will feature a later kickoff than may have been anticipated. Announced on Tuesday as a sellout, Notre Dame will kick off at 2:30 ET on NBC against Navy, much later than the 9 a.m. kickoff in 2012, the last time the Irish and the Midshipmen played in Ireland. This year’s trip is somewhat a make-up from having to scrap the planned trip in 2020, hence the unusual occurrence of Notre Dame playing a home game away from South Bend in this annual series.

After the dalliance across the Atlantic, the Irish will face an FCS-level program for the first time in history, Tennessee State and head coach Eddie George visiting on Sept. 2 at 3:30 ET. Logically, as soon as Notre Dame agreed to move its date with Navy to Dublin, meeting an FCS opponent became inevitable, either that or shoehorn in an early off week.

Instead, the Trojans will arrive in South Bend just before the first Irish off week, also kicking off at 7:30 ET on Oct. 14. With Heisman-winner, Heisman-frontrunner and contender to be the No. 1 pick quarterback Caleb Williams leading it, USC will also be a trendy Playoff contender in 2023. Competitively, the Trojans will be coming off a rather pedestrian early-season stretch.

Looking at ESPN’s SP+ rankings to gauge the first half of USC’s schedule sheds light on how likely it is the Trojans will be undefeated in mid-October. None of their first six opponents rank in the top 60 in the country, and three of them are in the bottom 30. Again leaning into the SP+ numbers, USC should be favored by three possessions in every one of those games, with the first three of those looking like edges well north of 30 points and two more being around four touchdowns.

Thus, Notre Dame and NBC should welcome multiple unbeaten top-10 teams in primetime this year.

The 33rd year of Notre Dame on NBC will feature six games aired on both NBC and Peacock, NBC’s streaming service, as well as one game exclusively available on Peacock, the Sept. 16 tilt with Central Michigan at 2:30 ET.

The Irish home slate will conclude with a Senior Day showing from Wake Forest at 3:30 ET on Nov. 18, new Notre Dame quarterback Sam Hartman’s previous team.

Aug. 26: vs. Navy in Dublin at 2:30 ET
Sept. 2: vs. Tennessee State at 3:30 ET
Sept. 16: vs. Central Michigan at 2:30 ET on Peacock
Sept. 23: vs. Ohio State at 7:30 ET
Oct. 14: vs. USC at 7:30 ET
Oct. 28: vs. Pittsburgh at 3:30 ET
Nov. 18: vs. Wake Forest at 3:30 ET

Notre Dame 99-to-0: No. 84 Kevin Bauman, senior tight end coming off a torn ACL

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 20 Georgia Tech at Notre Dame
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Listed measurements: 6-foot-4 ½, 252 pounds.
2023-24 year, eligibility: A senior, Bauman has three years of eligibility remaining. Yes, he could end up playing a sixth year somewhere in 2025, if he so chooses. The universal pandemic eligibility waiver meant Bauman’s injury-shortened 2022 could serve as his traditional season preserving eligibility.
Depth Chart: A year ago, Bauman was considered Notre Dame’s second tight end, but he may be as low as No. 4 entering 2023, in part due to his injury and in part due to junior Mitchell Evans and sophomore Holden Staes making the most of their opportunities last season.
Recruiting: Bauman had the misfortune of being the same age as Michael Mayer, the latter ranked No. 3 among tight ends in the class of 2020 while Bauman was the No. 5, per Michigan gave late pursuit to Bauman, but the New Jersey native stuck with the Irish, the only program he genuinely considered.

Bauman was progressing gradually before his 2022 was cut short by a torn ACL after a broken leg delayed the start of his 2021. The ACL injury kept Bauman sidelined in the most recent spring practices.

2020: 4 games; 1 catch for 5 yards.
2021: 5 games; 1 catch for 10 yards.
2022: 3 games; 3 catches for 44 yards.

Bauman tore his ACL in September, making it quite plausible he is full-go when preseason practices commence at the end of July, which will be 10-plus months after the injury. Recovery from an ACL tear typically takes about nine months nowadays, wild to think about given Adrian Peterson first pioneered that timetable in football as recently as 2012.

Do not mistake a shortened ACL recovery timeline as an easier rehab.

“It’s been a journey,” Bauman said in March. “It’s been tough, a little more than five months out now from surgery. It’s been a grind. Toughest part has been committing to that grind, knowing it’s going to take some time. Have to have some patience.

“It’s going well. I feel great physically. I’m starting to long jump, all that stuff.”

There was never a timetable that included Bauman partaking in spring practices, but he held hope for summer work.

“I’m hoping by summer workouts, I should be 100 percent, fully cleared,” he said. “But then definitely by fall camp.”

“Bauman or Evans, one will be Mayer’s backup, and the other will be a piece of the offense, always just one snap away from being a core piece of it. Though a former high school quarterback, Evans’ 2021 may have given him the slight edge over the former highly-touted tight end recruit Bauman.

“The key thing to remember is, no matter the pecking order of tight ends Nos. 2 and 3, they will remain behind a likely All-American who will be both the fulcrum and the engine of the Irish offense.

“There should still be a role for Bauman, be it as the No. 2 or 3 tight end. A handful of catches is likely the minimum, with one perhaps coming in the end zone. …

“That ‘2022 Outlook’ is not meant to diminish Bauman. Any tight end at Notre Dame warrants the benefit of the doubt, simply because of the track record of ‘Tight End U.’ It is meant to continue to emphasize Mayer’s talent and how it looms over the rest of the tight ends.

“He’ll be gone after this season.

“Then it will be Bauman’s time, along with Evans and sophomore Cane Berrong, not to mention the two incoming freshmen. Who will emerge as the new lead is a parlor game better suited for next winter, but its best clues will come this fall.”

When Evans took the field, coming off a July foot injury, Bauman and then-freshman Eli Raridon had already been sidelined by injuries. As Evans found his role, the futures of those like Bauman changed in step with Evans’s successes. That was through no fault of Bauman’s; it is irrational to criticize a former high-profile recruit for not breaking out when two unrelated injuries cut short his only non-pandemic seasons.

But it is a reality, nonetheless.

Evans and Staes are Notre Dame’s top-two tight ends at this point, with Raridon representing a higher ceiling than Bauman, though both remain bets on potential.

Thus, Bauman’s 2023 may be minimal. He should play and play plenty, but only in supplementary roles, barring injuries to Evans and/or Staes. That could result in a handful of catches for Bauman, a disproportionate number of them coming near the goal line.

Think back to the stat lines of Nic Weishar and George Takacs.

Weishar in 2017: Nine catches with two touchdowns.
Weishar in 2018: Three catches with two touchdowns.

Takacs in 2019: Two catches with one touchdown.
Takacs in 2021: Three catches with one touchdown.

Tight ends are simply more prone to those kinds of catches-to-scores ratios given the propensity to run multiple tight-end sets in goal-to-go situations.

A transfer following this season seems the most likely route for Bauman. Barring a breakout, somehow leapfrogging Evans and Staes, there will simply be no realistic path to a leading role in South Bend in 2024.

With two years of eligibility remaining after this season along with his high-profile recruitment, Bauman should have plenty of options for landing spots. Cane Berrong just landed at Coastal Carolina with less collegiate statistics and a lower recruiting profile, for example.

The summer countdown begins anew, Rylie Mills to Deion Colzie
No. 99 Rylie Mills, senior defensive tackle, moving back inside from end
No. 98 Devan Houstan, early-enrolled four-star defensive tackle
No. 97 Gabriel Rubio, junior defensive tackle, one of three Irish DTs with notable experience
No. 95 Tyson Ford, sophomore defensive tackle, up 30 pounds from a year ago
No. 92 Aidan Keanaaina, a senior defensive tackle now ‘fully healthy’ after a 2022 torn ACL
No. 91 Aiden Gobaira, sophomore defensive end, former four-star recruit
No. 90* Brenan Vernon, incoming freshman defensive end, four-star recruit
No. 90* Boubacar Traore, incoming freshman defensive end, four-star recruit
No. 88 Mitchell Evans, the next starter at ‘TE U’
No. 86* Cooper Flanagan, incoming freshman tight end, four-star recruit
No. 85 Holden Staes, sophomore tight end, up 20 pounds in a year
Rhode Island transfer safety Antonio Carter gives Notre Dame desperately needed backline depth