Recruiting Reset: Notre Dame not settling for less at tight end

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

Signing two of the top tight ends in the country for the 2017 class hasn’t lowered Notre Dame’s interest in the position for 2018.

Brock Wright, who enrolled early in January, and Cole Kmet, who joined the team in June, have already been designated as freshmen likely to play for the Irish this season. Finding recruits to follow that duo could be hard. But if Notre Dame’s going to consider itself “Tight End U,” it has make sure to keep the position replenished.

The Irish have four scholarship tight ends on the roster with eligibility remaining for 2018. That might not be enough for an offensive coordinator like Chip Long, who previously worked as a tight ends coach.

In Long’s first offseason with Notre Dame, he has shown an appreciation for getting multiple tight ends on the field at a time. Three tight ends were utilized in certain formations during Sunday’s open scrimmage in Notre Dame Stadium.

So even though Notre Dame has already added a commitment in George Takacs, don’t expect the Irish to completely stop recruiting tight ends. At least one other tight end target remains a possibility for Notre Dame.

The 2018 tight end class for ND won’t be as talented as a Wright and Kmet, who each finished among the top six on Rivals and 247Sports, but it could provide needed depth and potential.

Commitment

• George Takacs, 6-6, 235; Naples (Fla.) Gulf Coast: Once Notre Dame decided to pursue Takacs, he became a quick favorite to end up in South Bend. Takacs has grandparents living in Indiana, and his mother attended Notre Dame for graduate school.

Before Takacs started receiving offers from colleges across the country, he attended the Irish Invasion in 2016. By the time Long joined the Notre Dame coaching staff a little more than six months later, Takacs had started to become a hot commodity.

Takacs received one of the first new tight end offers from Long at Notre Dame in March. The Florida resident followed up the offer with a return visit to campus a few weeks later. He committed to the Irish in June.

National camps wanted to take a closer look at Takacs this offseason. He attended the Rivals Five-Star Challenge and The Opening Finals to compete against some of the best recruits in the country.

The camp circuit wasn’t particularly kind to Takacs. Rivals still rates him as a four-star recruit, but the recruiting site dropped him from the No. 10 tight end in the 2018 class to No. 17. 247Sports slates him as a three-star recruit and the No. 14 tight end.

That’s in part because seven-on-seven scenarios aren’t the most conducive for Takacs. It limits his physical attributes and doesn’t highlight his ability to help in the running and passing game. Takacs has reliable hands and serves as a big target in the red zone, but he’s not a tight end built to stretch the field.

Remaining target

• Tommy Tremble, 6-4, 225; Norcross (Ga.) Wesleyan: The recruitment of this three-star tight end may end in a battle between Notre Dame and Georgia. It’s only fitting that Tremble plans to make an official visit to South Bend to see the two teams play Sept. 9.

Tremble has already been to Notre Dame previously. He made a trip to South Bend as part of a summer visit spree that included stops at Georgia, UCLA, Fresno State, Tennessee and South Carolina. Those five schools, along with Notre Dame, were named as Tremble’s top six in July.

Georgia has more than a home-state advantage with Tremble. His father, Greg, played defensive back for the Bulldogs in the ‘90s.

If Tremble decides to commit to Notre Dame or Georgia, he won’t be alone at tight end. Both schools already have one commitment at the position in the 2018 class.

But what Tremble brings is a bit more athleticism to the field than most tight ends. He has good speed, can be a threat down the seam and play detached from the line of scrimmage.

Rivals ranks Tremble as the No. 21 tight end in the class. 247Sports slates him 30th.

Missed targets

• Jeremy Ruckert, 6-5, 229; Lindenhurst (N.Y.) High: Notre Dame remained a finalist for arguably the best tight end in the 2018 class all the way until the end. In reality, the Irish weren’t that close to winning Ruckert’s commitment despite hosting him for an unofficial visit in March. He committed to Ohio State in July over Notre Dame, Michigan and Wisconsin.

247Sports: Five stars, No. 1 TE. | Rivals: Four stars, No. 2 TE.

• Zack Kuntz, 6-7, 215; Camp Hill (Pa.) High: Kuntz became target No. 1 in the 2018 class for former tight ends coach Scott Booker. Kuntz received an offer while visiting for the Blue-Gold Game in 2016, and he returned for the Duke game last season. In November, Kuntz decided to stay close to home and committed to Penn State.

247Sports: Four stars, No. 2 TE. | Rivals: Four stars, No. 3 TE.

• Pat Freiermuth, 6-5, 250; North Andover (Mass.) Brooks School: A few months after Kuntz committed to Penn State, the Irish decided to target another tight end committed to the Nittany Lions. Freiermuth, who also visited for last year’s Blue-Gold Game, received a Notre Dame offer in February, six months after he committed to Penn State. The communication with new offensive coordinator Chip Long wasn’t enough to sway Freiermuth to reconsider the Irish.

Rivals: Four stars, No. 5 TE. | 247Sports: Four stars, No. 13 TE.

• Mustapha Muhammad, 6-4, 231; Missouri City (Texas) Ridge Point: An early offer never resulted in a Notre Dame visit for Muhammad. The four-star recruit remains undecided, but the Irish were dropped from the running when he named a top five of Texas, LSU, Michigan, Clemson and UCLA earlier this month.

247Sports: Four stars, No. 5 TE. | Rivals: Four stars, No. 19 TE.

tjames@ndinsider.com

574-235-6214

Twitter: @TJamesNDI

George Takacs gave Notre Dame another big body at tight end in the 2018 class. (Photo courtesy of Rivals0

In the coming days, the ND Insider Recruiting Reset series will take a position-by-position look at Notre Dame’s recruiting efforts in the 2018 class. This is the fourth story of the series.

Quarterback: Early work paying off at QB

Running backs: Irish packing a powerful punch at RB

Wide receivers: With size in hand, ND left looking for speed