At some point, describing Notre Dame as “Tight End U” becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Admittedly, that point was probably a few NFL draft picks ago, but with Tommy Tremble becoming the 10th Irish tight end selected in the last 16 drafts and then a new tight end commitment to come the same weekend, it is clear how the years of success can appeal to the next players likely to succeed.
Consensus three-star tight end Eli Raridon (Valley High School; West Des Moines, Iowa) announced a commitment to Notre Dame on Sunday. Suggesting any high school junior should be looked at as a future draft pick is unnecessarily bold — although it is also the premise of recruiting rankings — but the cause-and-effect at this particular position in South Bend seems clear.
The No. 22 tight end in the class, per rivals.com, Raridon chose the Irish over homestate offers from Iowa and Iowa State, as well as from the majority of the Big Ten, Auburn and Vanderbilt. Standing 6-foot-6, he will need to add weight to his 220-pound frame, but that is to be expected at this stage in his development.
Raridon is comfortable using his height to attack a pass in the air, a comfort that can be associated with his talent playing above the rim on the basketball court. Looking at his basketball clips, Raridon’s athleticism could not be more apparent.
— Eli Raridon (@EliRaridon) December 26, 2020
He has enough speed to warrant notice downfield. Not to throw more lofty comparisons around, but that speed is evident on the same seam route that Tyler Eifert and Cole Kmet both relished at Notre Dame, forcing a linebacker to turn his hips in close coverage or a safety to risk getting blown by if he comes downhill in support. Add in Raridon’s possible catch radius, and those routes could make him a model of the modern tight end.
Before then, though, the Irish will need to get some muscle onto his body. While a willing blocker, and largely successful at such in the Iowa prep ranks, Raridon will need to widen his shoulders to handle that responsibility at the next level.
The 12th commit in Notre Dame’s class of 2022, Raridon fills a vacancy created by the de-commitment of consensus three-star tight end Jack Nickel (Milton H.S.; Ga.) a few weeks ago, a de-commitment that signaled Raridon’s decision was likely not far off.
Raridon’s father played for the Irish along the offensive line in the early 2000s.
— Eli Raridon (@EliRaridon) May 2, 2021