Notre Dame 99-to-0: No. 87 Michael Mayer, junior tight end, likely All-American

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Listed measurements: 6-foot-4 ½, 251 pounds.
2022-23 year, eligibility: A junior, Mayer technically has three seasons of eligibility remaining thanks to the universal pandemic eligibility waiver in 2020, but he will undoubtedly leave two of those years unused when he enters the NFL draft after this season.
Depth Chart: Mayer is not only Notre Dame’s top tight end; he may be the best Irish player overall.
Recruiting: A consensus four-star prospect, the No. 36 overall recruit in the class of 2020 and the No. 3 tight end in the class, per, Mayer chose the Irish over Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Ohio State, Texas — you get the point. He could have gone anywhere.

Curiously enough, the two tight ends ranked ahead of him, Arik Gilbert and Darnell Washington, now play on the same team and neither is the best tight end there. Gilbert originally committed and went to LSU, where he was named Freshman All-SEC in 2020 with 35 catches for 368 yards and two touchdowns. He then transferred to Georgia, joining Washington, but he missed the national championship season due to personal reasons. Washington, meanwhile made nine catches for 145 yards and one touchdown in seven games, missing some time due to a foot injury.

Ahead of both, and perhaps ahead of Mayer in the national landscape as it pertains to All-American teams, is sophomore Brock Bowers. To tie this back to the original point, the recruiting rankings were too low on Bowers, as well, slotting him as the No. 8 tight end in the class of 2021.

It will never not boggle the mind that the NCAA once restricted athletes from holding camps under their own names to connect with youth in their hometowns. Worse yet, there are still supposed fans of college football who think nothing good comes from athletes now having NIL rights.

Mayer and his brother A.J., former Miami (OH) quarterback now transferring to Arkansas State, did just that last month, and is this not the entire point of sports?

Mayer was not Notre Dame’s starter from the outset of his career. Tommy Tremble held onto that role in 2020, but that was more nominal than anything else. Tight ends starting a game can be determined by the first play call as much as anything else. Mayer made his mark clear from his arrival on campus, right away looking like a Power Five starter.

2020: 12 games, 42 catches for 450 yards and two touchdowns.
2021: 12 games, 71 catches for 840 yards and seven touchdowns.

That seven touchdowns mark set a record at “Tight End U,” one that had stood for far too long, tracing back to Ken MacAfee in 1977. More pertinently, Mayer has led or nearly led the Irish in every receiving category in both years.

2020: Tied for the lead in catches (with Javon McKinley), second in yards (McKinley) and third in touchdowns (Bennett Skowronek and McKinley).
2021: Led in catches, second in yards (Kevin Austin ) and tied for the lead in touchdowns (Austin).

One quote speaks to Mayer’s future more than any other, and it comes from one of the few defenders who could match up with Mayer in 2021, someone who happened to do so in practices for most of two years.

Don’t expect to hear Mayer discuss that reality much, though. He is too smart and too polished for that, as he has been since he was a freshman.

Irish offensive coordinator Tommy Rees and new tight ends coach Gerad Parker challenged Mayer to be more of a vocal leader this spring, and in giving him that challenge, they also gave him another line to add to his canned responses. His ability to offer the cliché as sincere would make Crash Davis blush. Consider this answer in April in response to a question about his thoughts on the Mackey Award, given annually to the best tight end in the country, an award he not only did not win in 2021 but was not even named a finalist for.

“I would say right now, I’m focused on being a football player, being the best football player I can be, being the best leader I can be,” Mayer said. “Whatever happens after that, that’s out of my control. I’m just going to try to be the best leader, be the best football player I can be.”

“Suggesting Mayer can and should exceed all those tight ends is bold in several ways. His effectiveness will depend on that arrival of an additional option. Comparing his stats to those from 12 years ago is a difficult endeavor given how offenses have changed, even if comparing to one that enjoyed a supposed decided schematic advantage back then.

“But it is the correct suggestion, nonetheless. In a shortened season led by a ball-dominant run-game, Mayer caught 42 passes for 450 yards. Simply stretch that into a 13th game and that is 46 receptions for 488 yards. That alone would exceed Rudolph’s 2009 (33 catches, 364 yards, 3 scores). It would rival Kmet’s 2019 (43 catches, 515 yards, 6 scores). It would not be all that far off from Eifert’s junior season (50 catches, 685 yards, 4 scores).

“And that is if Mayer does not progress at all, even when featured as Notre Dame’s lead receiving option.

“The last time the Irish returned an uncertain offensive line and little proven receivers, if any, was 2018. Miles Boykin had 18 career catches heading into that season, and Notre Dame needed to replace the all-time left-side combo of Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson.

“Boykin finished that year with 59 catches for 872 yards and eight touchdowns in a breakout campaign as a senior. Such a stat line would outdo even Eifert’s excellent 2011 (63 catches, 803 yards, 5 scores as a sophomore). Outright expecting that of Mayer is quite an escalation, but consider that the baseline for what will eventually be a preseason prediction.”

Captain, simply because if not now, then it will be never. All-American, Bower notwithstanding. Record-setter, breaking his own.

Not enough can be expected from Mayer in 2022. Predicting his successes risks underselling what may come next. Alas, a prediction should follow.

Defenses will focus on Mayer until fifth-year receiver Braden Lenzy or sophomore Lorenzo Styles makes them pay for it, but even if that never happens, those defenses will still have a problem: They do not have Kyle Hamilton.

It is not hyperbolic to say Hamilton was one of few — a handful, at the absolute most — collegiate defenders who could handle Mayer one-on-one in 2021, and by “handle,” what is really meant is, “get beat only half the time.” When sophomore quarterback Tyler Buchner looks for Mayer, he will see him open. At that point, it will simply be a question of Buchner putting the ball where Mayer can catch it.

A renewed Irish focus on the run and an unproven quarterback could work against Mayer putting up monster numbers, counteracting those mismatches. Thus, this prediction is more of a shot in the dark than last year’s eerily accurate one was.

No Notre Dame tight end has ever cracked 1,000 yards. If Mayer is anywhere near that pace in November, Irish head coach Marcus Freeman will encourage Rees to make it happen. But just as Kyren Williams needed a last-minute dash to the end zone in the regular-season finale at Stanford last year to reach 1,000 rushing yards, Mayer may need to reach four digits in just 12 games. Not to look to the end of the season before it begins, but consider Mayer unlikely to play in any non-Playoff bowl game.

That math comes down to 83.3 yards per game. Last year, Mayer had five games of more than 80 receiving yards, including two north of 100. Boldly doubling each of those would have Mayer needing to average 60 yards in the other two games of the season. In other words, he would have no room for error if chasing 1,000 yards.

It is more likely he ends up with 80-plus catches for 900 yards and eight or nine touchdowns. Hardly a disappointing season.

RELATED READING: Leadership, route running keep Notre Dame TE Michael Mayer improving despite rampant successes already

And then, a first-round pick. If healthy, there is no doubt about it. Some NFL front offices let it slip in 2021 that they would have considered Mayer a first-rounder then, after just his freshman season.

And to think, the recruiting rankings did not consider him the top tight end in his class.

From Blake Grupe to Braden Lenzy, the offseason countdown begins anew
No. 99 Blake Grupe, kicker, Arkansas State transfer
No. 99 Rylie Mills, junior defensive lineman, a tackle now playing more at end

No. 98 Tyson Ford, early-enrolled freshman, a defensive tackle recruited as a four-star end
No. 97 Gabriel Rubio, sophomore defensive tackle, still ‘as wide as a Volkswagen’
No. 92 Aidan Keanaaina, a junior defensive tackle who tore his ACL in March
No. 91 Josh Bryan, sophomore kicker
No. 91 Aiden Gobaira, early-enrolled freshman defensive end, four-star recruit
No. 90 Alexander Ehrensberger, junior defensive end, a German project nearing completion
No. 89 Eli Raridon, incoming freshman tight end with a torn ACL
No. 88 Mitchell Evans, sophomore tight end

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    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.”

    2023 OUTLOOK
    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

    NOTRE DAME 99-TO-0
    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.”

    2023 OUTLOOK
    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.

    NOTRE DAME 99-TO-0
    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