Notre Dame 99-to-0: No. 87 Michael Mayer, junior TE, likely All-American – Inside the Irish

Dimensions listed: 6-foot-4 ½, 251 pounds.
2022-23 year, Eligibility: As a junior, Mayer technically has three seasons of eligibility remaining thanks to the universal waiver of pandemic eligibility in 2020, but he will undoubtedly have two of those years unused if he enters the NFL draft after this season.
Depth chart: Mayer isn’t just Notre Dame’s top tight end; he is perhaps the best Irish player ever.
Recruitment: Mayer, a consensus four-star prospect, the No. 36 overall recruit in the class of 2020 and a close finish No. 3 in the class, picked the Irish over Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, according to , Ohio State. Texas – You understand what matters. He could have gone anywhere.

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

Ahead of both, and perhaps ahead of Mayer on the national landscape when it comes to all-American teams, is Brock Bowers as a sophomore. To bring this back to the original point, the recruiting rankings were also too low for Bowers, which slammed him as No. 8 in the Class of 2021.

It will never be forgotten that the NCAA once stopped athletes from holding camps under their own name to connect with youth in their hometowns. Worse, there are still perceived college football fans who think nothing good will come from athletes who now have ZERO rights.

Mayer and his brother AJ, a former quarterback from Miami (OH) who is now moving to Arkansas State, did just that last month, and isn’t that the whole point of the sport?

Mayer wasn’t the starter of Notre Dame from the start. Tommy Tremble retained that role in 2020, but that was more nominal than anything. Tight ends early in a game can be determined by the first play call just like anything else. Mayer made a name for himself upon his arrival on campus and immediately looked like a Power Five starter.

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

That seven touchdown mark set a record at Tight End U that had stood far too long and dates back to Ken MacAfee in 1977. More relevantly, Mayer has led, or nearly led, the Irish in every reception category in both years.

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

One quote speaks for Mayer’s future more than any other, and it comes from one of the few defenders who could take on Mayer in 2021, someone who happened to do so in training for nearly two years.

However, don’t expect Mayer to discuss this reality much. He’s too smart and polished for that, as he has been since his student days.

Ireland 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 ready-made ones could add answers. His ability to offer the cliché as sincere would make Crash Davis blush. Consider this April response to a question about his thoughts on the Mackey Award, presented annually to the nation’s top tight end, an award not only did he not win in 2021, but he was not even a finalist for one was nominated.

“I would say right now my focus is on being a football player, being the best football player I can be, being the best leader I can be,” Mayer said. “What happens after that is beyond my control. I’ll just try to be the best leader, to be the best football player that I can be.”

“To suggest that Mayer can and should push all of these narrow bounds is bold in more ways than one. Its effectiveness depends on the arrival of an additional option. Comparing his stats to those of 12 years ago is a difficult proposition given how attacks have changed, even when comparing them to those that supposedly had a crucial schematic advantage back then.

“But it’s still the right suggestion. In an abbreviated season led by a ball-dominated running game, Mayer caught 42 passes for 450 yards. Just pull that into a 13th game and that’s 46 receptions for 488 yards. That alone would surpass Rudolph’s 2009 (33 catches, 364 yards, 3 scores). It would rival Kmets in 2019 (43 catches, 515 yards, 6 points). It wouldn’t be that far away from Eifert’s junior season (50 catches, 685 yards, 4 scores).

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“And that’s if Mayer makes no progress at all, even if he’s featured as Notre Dame’s main reception option.

“The last time the Irish returned an uncertain offensive line and unproven receivers, if any, was in 2018. Miles Boykin had 18 career catches prior to this season, and Notre Dame had to replace all-time left combination 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 even surpass Eifert’s excellent 2011 (63 catches, 803 yards, 5 scores as a sophomore). To expect that from Mayer directly is quite an escalation, but keep in mind that this will be the basis for a preseason prediction.

Captain, simply because if not now, then never. All-American, Bower notwithstanding. Record holder breaking his own.

Not enough can be expected from Mayer in 2022. Predicting your successes runs the risk of underestimating what might come next. Unfortunately, a prediction was to follow.

The defense 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 don’t have Kyle Hamilton .

It’s not an exaggeration to say that Hamilton was one of the few — at most, a handful — collegiate defensemen who could deal one-on-one with Mayer in 2021, and by “handle” really means “only getting beaten half of that.” Time.” If second quarterback Tyler Buchner is looking for Mayer, he’ll see him openly. Then it’ll just be a matter 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, who is putting up monster numbers and countering those disparities. As such, this prediction is more of a shot in the dark than last year’s incredibly accurate prediction.

No Notre Dame tight end has ever surpassed 1,000 yards. If Mayer gets anywhere near that pace in November, Ireland head coach Marcus Freeman will encourage Rees to make it happen. But just like Kyren Williams needed a last-minute sprint into the end zone to hit 1,000 rushing yards in the regular-season finals at Stanford last year, Mayer may need to be in four figures in just 12 games. Don’t look to the end of the season before it begins, but Mayer is unlikely to play in a non-playoff bowl game.

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That math comes out to 83.3 yards per game. Last year, Mayer had five games for 80+ yards, including two north of 100. A bold doubling on each of those games would have seen Mayer average 60 yards in the other two games of the season. In other words, he would have no room for error chasing 1,000 yards.

He’s more likely to have 80+ 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 already rampant success

And then a first-round pick. If it’s healthy, there’s no doubt. Some NFL front offices let it slip in 2021 that they considered Mayer a first-round player after just his first season.

And considering the recruiting ladder didn’t consider him the best 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 that now plays more towards the end

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

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