While linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah is the probable first-round pick and tackle Liam Eichenberg is the player who could still move into the first round, it is arguably tight end Tommy Tremble who has the most to gain from Notre Dame’s Pro Day today (Wednesday). Owusu-Koramoah can already expect a team to invest the most premium draft capital in him; Eichenberg is hoping to move up from a second-round pick, hardly a poor selection spot in its own right. But Tremble still appears as an undrafted free agent in some draft previews, while others project him as high as the third-round.
That’s a wide window, both literally and financially. The final pick of the 2020 third round, for example, Kansas City Chiefs offensive tackle Lucas Niang, signed a 4-year, $4.5 million contract with $847,072 of that guaranteed. The top 2020 undrafted free agent, per Pro Football Focus, Detroit Lions tight end Hunter Bryant signed a 3-year, $2.3 million contract with $60,000 of that guaranteed.
That’s quite a gap, even if it seems unlikely Tremble will fall as Bryant did (PFF’s top-rated tight end entering last year’s draft) since it takes just one team to want him to avoid that fate. Tremble knows there is a bit at stake for him today and has timed his recovery from a Rose Bowl ankle sprain accordingly.
“I was being cautious with it, really for a month and a half, two months, just to make sure I don’t overextend anything I don’t want to injure for this pro day or anything like that,” Tremble said Monday. “I’ve been full strength for about a month now. I’m really excited to try and do everything at the pro day, try to show off that athleticism that a lot of people feel like I have.
As Tremble and former Irish tight end Brock Wright, along with receiver Javon McKinley (Ben Skowronek will be held out by injury), work out with quarterback Ian Book, it is Tremble who will most need to showcase his hands. He was never a receiving liability in college, but he was also rarely given the chance to be a receiving threat, catching 35 passes for 401 yards and four touchdowns in two seasons.
“I came here as a receiving tight end and showed I can do both sides of those aspects, so I’m really excited to show them how dangerous I can be in the passing game,” Tremble said. “… What I’m going to bring is a guy who is a complete tight end, who can do it all. My biggest strength is my versatility in all aspects of the game. No matter what anyone says, they haven’t seen me do it all like that. They’ve only seen a tiny bit of it.”
Tremble’s confidence as a receiver mirrors his proven confidence and aggression as a blocker, the piece of his NFL film not needing any debate. When NBCSN airs today’s Pro Day at 11 a.m. ET — hosted by Jac Collinsworth and Corey Robinson, the broadcast will also feature interviews with Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly, offensive coordinator Tommy Rees and defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman — Tremble might as well skip any blocking drills.
Notre Dame had success running its counter play all night and this was one of the smaller gains, but TE Tommy Tremble (24) deserves recognition for this block. pic.twitter.com/MSWNBaTH2z
— Matt Freeman (@mattfreemanISD) October 13, 2020
But his recollection of arriving in South Bend as a receiving tight end is an accurate one. The Irish beat out Michigan in his recruitment, and former Notre Dame offensive coordinator Chip Long identified his training as a receiver as a defining quality.
“Tommy’s been more of a skilled wideout coming in,” Long said in February 2018. “… Tommy is probably a little bit more explosive.”
And again, that was never contradicted in college, just also very rarely reinforced. That could have changed if Tremble returned to South Bend in 2021, but only to an extent. He did not outright point to rising sophomore tight end Michael Mayer’s presence as the predominant tight end on the Irish roster, but that implication was made.
“Of course, [the Notre Dame coaching staff] said if I came back, I would be in a more receiving role, showing that I could block [in 2020],” Tremble said. “They were being very conscious about other players, about what their position is, but just really offering up what they thought my needs were, and I really appreciate them for that. They were trying to cater to me and what my needs were. Really, after talking out with them, they were still supportive of me being able to leave this year.”
"He’s a Terminator type, charging into the hole like a stick of dynamite and blasting out any garbage he finds."
… I don't know, @thorku might think former #NotreDame TE Tommy Tremble is alright. It's not clear. https://t.co/iV3KHTJZGt
— Douglas Farmer (@D_Farmer) March 17, 2021
Tremble intends to return to Notre Dame to get his degree in years to come, but this opportunity could not be denied, nor should it have been. Let’s go one step further into NFL draft contracts, all of which are largely predetermined by slotting. The final pick of the fourth round, Kansas City Chiefs safety L’Jarius Sneed out of Louisiana Tech, signed a 4-year, $3.9 million contract with $634,320 of that guaranteed. If Tremble’s career somehow went sideways and this winter’s decision allowed him to snag only that much, it would have been worth delaying his degree by 12-24 months, and that is a worst-case scenario provision.
“I want to focus of course on making a job, having a job for the next few years, but of course it’s always to come back and get that degree,” he said. “That’s something you come to Notre Dame for, that golden degree. That thing is special. I really want to be able to come back in the next few years, finish that degree and make my parents happy about that.”
But first, a pro day, in place of the usual “Underwear Olympics” held in Indianapolis, on NBCSN at 11 a.m. ET today. In addition to Owusu-Koramoah, Eichenberg, Book, Wright and McKinley, the day will also feature offensive linemen Aaron Banks, Tommy Kraemer and Robert Hainsey, defensive linemen Ade Ogundeji and Daelin Hayes, and defensive backs Shaun Crawford and Nick McCloud.
Name a better #ProDay setup for the vert.
— The Fighting Irish 😷 (@FightingIrish) March 31, 2021