Notre Dame TE commit Michael Mayer having 'scary' week at The Opening Finals

Carter Karels
South Bend Tribune

FRISCO, TEXAS — Michael Mayer's dominance evoked one-word descriptions from his fellow Notre Dame commits in Chris Tyree and Drew Pyne.

Monster. Scary. 

It took their first day competing with Mayer for Tyree and Pyne to know how terrifying the tight end can be for opposing defenses. The 6-foot-5, 236-pound Mayer continues to grab the spotlight at The Opening Finals. He scored three touchdowns in his first 7-on-7 action at the Ford Center at The Star on Tuesday.

Of all the nation’s best athletes participating in the Frisco, Texas event, not one defensive back or linebacker can seemingly cover Mayer. The Park Hills (Ky.) Covington Catholic product has yet to drop a pass through the week’s first two sessions.

“He is completely unguardable, and everyone in this stadium knows it,” said Pyne, who the Elite 11 Finals ranked No. 5 among the 20 competing quarterbacks after day four. “I always knew he was unbelievable coming into this. These are the best players in the country, and not one person can guard him. He is just unbelievable.”

Three recruits participating in this week’s festivities have a case as the top-ranked tight end in the 2020 recruiting class: Marietta (Ga.) High’s Arik Gilbert, Las Vegas Desert Pines’ Darnell Washington and Mayer.

Rivals ranks Gilbert and Washington ahead of Mayer, slating him as the No. 3 tight end and No. 71 overall player. 247Sports pegs Mayer as its No. 1 tight end and No. 88 overall player, though Washington and Gilbert are listed as athletes and are ranked ahead of him overall.

Mayer, a four-star recruit, outperformed both Gilbert and Washington on Monday according to Greg Biggins, a national recruiting analyst for 247Sports. Biggins even named Mayer as the day’s top pass-catcher. He caught four of Pyne’s five targets in one-on-one drills. The lone incompletion came as a result of an underthrown pass.

“I want to come in here and leave making everyone think that I’m the No. 1 tight end here,” Mayer said. “Theo (Johnson), Darnell (Washington), Arik Gilbert — there are all kinds of good tight ends here. If you don’t come in with that mindset, I don’t even want you on my team.”

Mayer tacked on six pounds recently, which might explain his regressed 40-yard dash time of 4.8 seconds. He ran a 4.7 earlier this offseason. However, Mayer did not appear slower on the field. He created separation on a share of his routes defended by faster defensive backs.

When facing tight coverage, Mayer hauled in a few passes that would normally be 50-50 balls. He flashed an ability to make acrobatic receptions, including in traffic.

“He has really good speed for his size,” Pyne said. “He’s a really strong guy. His routes that he runs are really crisp. He’s really good at faking one way and going the other. Overall, he’s just an absolute freak of nature.

“And his hands are unbelievable. He has huge hands. The ball looks small in them. He can catch anything that comes his way.”

Covington Catholic also features Mayer at defensive end and leaned on him last season en route to making an appearance in the Kentucky High School Athletic Association Class 5A title game. Bowling Green (Ky.) South Warren and Notre Dame freshman nose guard Jacob Lacey bested Mayer’s squad, 20-16.

Winning the state championship will be Mayer’s main goal as a senior, he said. Mayer and Pyne will then enroll early in January. They plan to take official visits for Notre Dame’s Oct. 12 home game against USC. Tyree intends to join them for an unofficial visit.   

“This is my first time in Frisco,” Mayer said. “The Star is ridiculous. The hotel we are staying at is ridiculous. All the players are ridiculous.”

Ridiculous could be another word to describe Mayer’s week so far. He will showcase his talents further in the 7-on-7 tournament, which concludes Wednesday afternoon.

“It just makes it so easy on me,” Pyne said. “He’s definitely the No. 1 tight end here.”

No one @TheOpening Finals can seem to cover Michael Mayer (@MMayer1001). There’s no such thing as a 50-50 ball to him. Here’s the #NotreDame commit’s third TD of the day.

— Carter Karels (@CarterKarels) July 2, 2019

These Irish commits met for the first time today. Both plan to enroll early at #NotreDame in January.

— Carter Karels (@CarterKarels) July 1, 2019

Could be the first of many TDs from #NotreDame QB commit Drew Pyne (@dpyne10) to TE commit Michael Mayer (@MMayer1001).

— Carter Karels (@CarterKarels) July 1, 2019

Rankings after Day 4.

— Elite11 (@Elite11) July 2, 2019

Another solid day for all three #NotreDame commits @TheOpening Finals. QB Drew Pyne is positioning himself well for a top five finish in the @Elite11 Finals.

— Carter Karels (@CarterKarels) July 3, 2019

Park Hills (Ky.) Covington Catholic's Michael Mayer, a 2020 tight end, plans to enroll early in January at Notre Dame.