Kevin Bauman may not have received the fanfare many tight-end recruits before him had received at Notre Dame on National Signing Day in 2019. After all, it’s hard to get the highest levels of acclaim and excitement when you are only the second-best recruit a team secures at a position like tight end. However, when the individual you are behind in your class is a 5-star phenom named Michael Mayer, your ceiling is not appreciably limited.
Kevin Bauman has thus far been hidden from Notre Dame fans…hidden by Michael Mayer and hidden by a talented veteran group of tight ends during his freshmen year. He was hidden during this spring camp by a nagging injury and limited access. So, we are left to look at his recruiting pedigree and what was said by his coaches and those that have witnessed his performance this fall camp to discern what he might be.
Looking at Bauman’s recruiting profile can leave one easily excited about his prospects of turning out in a big way for Notre Dame. With the exception of Mayer, Bauman is the highest-ranked tight end recruit Notre Dame has landed since the recruiting class of Brock Wright and Cole Kmet. Rivals ranked Bauman as the #5 TE and #130 overall recruit in the nation. Here’s how that stacks up to the ND tight ends recruited in the two years prior to and after Bauman’s recruiting that were not named Michael Mayer:
- Tommy Tremble – #20 TE and NR Overall
- George Takacs – #11 TE and NR Overall
- Mitchell Evans – #26 TE and NR Overall
- Cane Berrong – #35 TE and NR Overall
- Holden Staes – #15 TE and NR Overall
- Eli Raridon – #21 TE and NR Overall
Talented as he was, Kevin Bauman was destined to be strictly a reserve behind a fully stocked 2020 tight end room which included Mayer, Tommy Tremble, and Brock Wright.
It would appear that year of work in Coach Balis’s weight room has paid dividends for Bauman. Listed as a 6’4” and 226-pound recruit by Rivals, Bauman came into fall camp tipping the scales at 242 pounds. At practice this past Thursday, Bauman used that big frame to get open to catch multiple passes including two touchdowns. By all accounts, Bauman was impressive. The performance was sufficient to generate Kevin Bauman questions for Brian Kelly at the press conference that followed. “He’s refining himself in this position,” Kelly would remark. “He’s getting on the edge of linebackers and safeties and putting himself in positions where now he can use his ability. He’s got really good ability.”
With Tremble and Wright opting for the NFL draft this spring, the door has opened for Bauman to insert himself into an expanded role for this coming season. In the word of Coach Rees this spring, “He’s a guy that we’re counting on this year to have an expanded role. I think he has an extremely high ceiling.”
It would appear that the guy recruited as the second TE in his class behind an individual Tommy Rees recently remarked could be “the best tight end to ever come” to Notre Dame might be pretty excellent himself. While much discussion has resulted from Rees’ comments as to whether Michael Mayer could be the best TE to ever attend Notre Dame, a parallel question that might be asked is “Can Mayer-Bauman be the best tight end tandem to ever play at Notre Dame?” With the demonstrated talent of Mayer and everything we are hearing about Bauman, it would appear the answer to that question might be “Yes.”