Notre Dame TE Tommy Tremble heads to NFL as run-blocker extraordinaire

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Notre Dame will need to find a new complement to rising sophomore tight end Michael Mayer next season. Tommy Tremble announced Thursday he will enter the NFL draft, forgoing his final three years of eligibility.

A tight end spurning three remaining years in college may seem surprising, and not only because it is just possible in this instance following the NCAA’s universal eligibility waiver during the coronavirus pandemic. The fact that Tremble finishes his Irish career with only 35 catches for 401 yards and four touchdowns may add to that surprise.

But his decision comes with an NFL draft evaluation in hand, one reportedly encouraging this move in no small part because of his clear enjoyment and aptitude IN physical run blocking.

“Growing up I played defense mostly,” Tremble said in November. “I always sought contact. I played running back, too. I never shied away from that.

“My dad taught me, never be scared of contact. The more scared you are, the more hurt you’re going to be. We brought that kind of fearlessness, overall, onto our offense.”

Tremble leaned into that fearlessness even more as 2020 progressed, time and time again seeking out his blocking assignment and not losing contact until well after the ball carrier had passed by.

This past season, Tremble’s receiving usage tailed off with the development of Mayer. The freshman began the season with seven catches in the first four games, compared to Tremble’s five in the opener against Duke. In the last five games, Tremble had four catches, compared to Mayer’s 22.

That was not a direct reflection of Tremble, but of Mayer.

Tremble’s pass-catching skills were largely proven in his first game action, catching three passes for 49 yards and a touchdown at Louisville in 2019. He has the ability in his skill set, but it was undeniably his 2020 blocking that set Tremble apart, not by accident, either.

“Coming into this year, working on footwork and hand placement was a real big thing we emphasized as tight ends as a whole,” he said. “I took it especially thorough trying to make sure my footwork and everything else was the best it could possibly be.

“The other main thing we worked on was being able to study our opponents, what their technique is. If they’re a guy who has a bunch of reach and all that stuff or a power player, just depending on how they play and learning how to counteract that kind of player.”

With Tremble’s departure, not a shock to the Notre Dame coaching staff but still less than ideal, the Irish may now complement Mayer with rising senior George Takacs, himself a physical force with a 6-foot-6 frame.

Notre Dame will have four returning offensive starters — Mayer, running back Kyren Williams, offensive lineman Jarrett Patterson and receiver Avery Davis — along with two more linemen with starting experience in Zeke Correll and Josh Lugg, and an 18-game starter in Wisconsin graduate transfer quarterback Jack Coan.

The NFL draft will be April 29 – May 1.