Notre Dame’s Michael Mayer Looks to Build off Huge Freshman Campaign

Notre Dame football tight end Michael Mayer wreaked havoc in his first year in South Bend. It is rare for true freshmen to have such a significant impact like Mayer did last fall. The former #2 tight end in the country has lived up to his ranking and has the potential to be an All-American Tight End in the upcoming seasons. Michael Mayer must be a vital part of the Notre Dame offense and a major contributor if the Fighting Irish want to make it back to the College Football Playoffs.

Player Profile

  • Position: Tight End
  • Grade: Sophomore
  • Hometown: Independence, Kentucky
  • High School: Covington Catholic
  • 2020 Class Ranking: #32 player nationally and #2 tight end in the country according to 247 Sports

2020 Statistics

  • Receiving statistics: 42 receptions for 450 yards (10.7 yards per catch) with two touchdowns; longest reception was 29 yards

Freshman Year in South Bend

Quality production in year one for the Irish Tight End. As a true freshman, Michael Mayer quickly became one of the best tight ends in the country. In the Rose Bowl, he led the Irish in receiving yardage with 62 yards on seven receptions. The Notre Dame Tight End has elite size, standing at 6’ 4” ½ and weighing around 249 pounds.

Michael Mayer has an elite ability to break tackles. Almost every time an Irish Receiver catches the ball short of a first down, it does not end well. Typically, they are tackled short of the marker, and fans are left wondering why they did not run a deeper route. However, Mayer seems to be an outlier. Last year, he was able to run routes short of the first down and break tackles to get across the line, although it is not something that is recommended on 3rd downs.

I could not find how many broken tackles the sophomore tight end had last fall, but it felt like he discarded defenders on countless plays.

Future Starter in the NFL

Is Mayer a future first-round pick? Todd McShay said last season that if Mayer were entering the NFL Draft this spring, he would be one of the top tight ends off the board. Coming from one of the top draft experts in football, it just shows the talent and potential moving forward for the Irish Tight End.

The sophomore tight end has even been referred to as “Baby Gronk,” as in four-time Super Bowl Champion Rob Gronkowski, who himself stands in at 6’ 6” and roughly 268 pounds.

Storied history of tight ends in South Bend. Notre Dame Football has been known to produce elite tight ends, particularly during the Brian Kelly Era. During his tenure alone, the Fighting Irish have produced NFL players such as Alize Mack, Ben Koyack, Durham Smythe, Kyle Rudolph, Troy Niklas, Tyler Eifert, Cole Kmet, and Tommy Tremble, who will be drafted this Spring.

The future is bright at the tight end position, with underclassmen Cane Berrong, Kevin Bauman, and Mitchell Evans waiting behind Michael Mayer.

2021 Notre Dame Offense

Will the Irish rely more on the passing attack? The prevailing thought around the 2021 Notre Dame football offense is that Tommy Rees will air the ball out more in his second year as offensive coordinator. The Irish will undoubtedly reload the offensive line this season, albeit with less experienced players, but there will almost always be a size advantage for Brian Kelly’s team upfront.

With the high up-tempo offenses that dominated the playoffs a year ago and offensive skill sets of players returning for the Fighting Irish, expect Tommy Rees to unleash the passing attack. Talented wide receivers and tight ends on the Irish roster should expect to see increased production this season.

Connection with Quarterback Jack Coan. After one season with Notre Dame’s all-time wins leader Ian Book, Mayer will look to build chemistry with projected starter Jack Coan. The former Wisconsin Quarterback has a strong arm and posted a 70% completion percentage in 2019 before being sidelined due to an injury last fall.

Coan is more a pocket passer and can potentially help the Irish vertical passing game next fall with the speed of the Notre Dame wide receiving core.

Final Thoughts

Michael Mayer is one of the top tight ends in the nation. Fortunately, Notre Dame will have Mayer for at least two more seasons. If freshmen were eligible for the draft, the Irish Tight End would have likely been drafted this year. He still has a lot of room to grow as a player on and off the field. I can recall a false start and dropped touchdown pass during the first Clemson matchup, just a few examples of areas he can become more consistent in this fall. 

I wrote an article about Chris Tyree a few weeks ago and how excited I was to watch him play. I feel the same way about Michael Mayer, but with his own skillset. Tyree has lightning speed and athleticism, while Mayer has elite strength and size, making him a spectacle to watch on the gridiron.

Tommy Rees has a primary weapon on the Fighting Irish offense. If Notre Dame wants to make it to three college football playoff appearances in four years, the Irish must take their offense to the next level. The Irish Defense has put in a great effort against Clemson and Alabama, the last two playoff appearances. However, the offensive side of the ball provides the greatest area for improvement.

Michael Mayer is a weapon that no other team in the nation has on their roster. Brian Kelly must fully utilize him and other young talented players on the Irish offense to win a national championship.

You may also like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button