The jersey numbers of the 20 incoming freshmen are unknown. With the occasional exception like Kyle Rudolph and No. 9, most Notre Dame tight ends wear digits similar to receivers, somewhere in the 80s. With six tight ends on the Irish roster, though, those numbers became scarce. In fact, none are currently available.
For now, let’s proceed as if incoming freshman tight end Tommy Tremble will wear No. 90. If nothing else, it keeps the Norcross, Ga., product at the beginning of the tight end conversation, with sophomore Brock Wright to follow immediately thereafter at No. 89.
Tommy Tremble very well may not wear No. 90, but it is possible, and it is the lowest available number in the usual tight end range.
6-foot-4, 225 pounds
2018-19 year, eligibility: Freshman yet to enroll.
Depth chart: There are two different versions of a tight end, a detached receiving threat and an in-line blocking role. Tremble projects as the former, behind senior Alizé Mack and sophomore Cole Kmet with fifth-year Nic Weishar offering a bit off both skillsets.
Recruiting: A consensus three-star, Tremble was the No. 18 tight end in the class, per rivals.com. He narrowed down his final decision to just Notre Dame and Michigan, making his choice less than a week before December’s early signing period. Initially, Tremble said he would not sign during those 72 hours, giving the Wolverines a window to change his mind, but the Irish coaching staff managed to convince him to put pen to paper at the first possible chance.
Tremble’s was not the hottest of recruitments due to an ankle injury that ended his senior season in the second week. Combining that with a low-profile high school, Tremble slipped below many radars.
“What we saw was an incredible upside relative to his physicality and his physical ability,” Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said on National Signing Day. “He was a fit here from the school that he went to. A great fit and had the skills.”
One of two tight ends in the class, Tremble’s talents complement early-enrolled freshman George Takacs’. Between the two of them, the recruiting class of 2018 has all aspects of the position covered, as preferred by Irish offensive coordinator Chip Long.
“Both of them are very athletic,” Long said in February. “George has spent a little bit more time with his hand on the ground than Tommy has. Tommy’s been more of a skilled wideout coming in.
“… Both are very smart, very athletic in their way. Tommy is probably a little bit more explosive, where George has a little bit more size, but that can come in time. The one thing that really caught my eye with Tommy is he played defense for them. As I’m evaluating tight ends nowadays, I want to see defensive film. I want to see you be able to put your face on something and strike. That’s a big thing with the toughness that we want to have, and he did that. He is exceptional, to go with his explosiveness.”
“Current Notre Dame junior Alizé Mack’s 2017 may have been a letdown, but a comparison to him is still a complement. Tremble presents many of the same difficulties Mack does to opposing defenses, with a tight end’s size but a receiver’s speed.
“If that comparison is accurate, Tremble may see spot duty in the near future, simply to put defenses in exceedingly tough situations.”
Takacs suffered a cartilage injury this spring, limiting him in his semester’s head start. Considering rarely would more than one blocking-focused tight end be needed — and Wright suitably fills that role — it seems probable he spends the season sidelined getting healthy.
The Irish will likely not keep both freshmen tight ends off the field. Thus, Tremble may seem some action this fall. The uncertainty in the depth chart ahead of him increases those odds. Between disciplinary issues and inconsistent play, Mack will not be trusted until he has repeatedly proven worthy of it. Weishar did not participate much this spring due to a shoulder injury. If both those question marks were to be answered in a negative fashion, then only Kmet would genuinely stand ahead of Tremble.
In that instance, Tremble’s speed may be needed frequently this fall. That would be a worst-case scenario for Notre Dame, though.
If the tight end grouping remains in both good health and good standing, Tremble’s time will be reduced to an occasional few snaps here and there, most concentrated in the closing frames of blowouts. If that simply serves to build Tremble’s confidence moving forward, it should be considered a success.
DOWN THE ROAD
Tremble’s 2019 may hinge on Mack’s 2018. If the senior (finally) performs, he could join Weishar in heading to the NFL after this season. Then, only four tight ends would be on the Irish roster in the spring, two as vertical threats and two as physical blockers with good hands. Tremble would immediately become a contributing piece of Long’s tight end-heavy schemes.
Kmet impressed many this spring, showing the physical and mental development to push Mack to be at his best this year. That progress also diminishes Tremble’s chances of surpassing Kmet in the next couple seasons.
As long as Long is the offensive coordinator, there will still be a need for multiple players with tight ends’ frames but receivers’ speed. Tremble offers that.
NOTRE DAME 99-to-2:
No. 99 Jerry Tillery, defensive tackle, seniorNo. 95 Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, defensive tackle, sophomore
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