Notre Dame commit Kevin Bauman ready to shoulder all tight end responsibilities
Kevin Bauman spends his spare time differently than most football players.
The Red Bank (N.J.) Catholic product enjoys scouring the Internet on topics relating to math and science. He happily falls into the YouTube rabbit holes — an experience full of twist and turns.
Bauman might begin by watching an ordinary science video. A few videos later, he’s soaking up conspiracy theories. Before Bauman realizes it, he’s suddenly learning the intricacies of astrophysics.
“I’m into a lot of weird stuff that you wouldn’t expect,” said Bauman, one of two tight ends committed to Notre Dame’s 2020 recruiting class, with Michael Mayer being the second. “Sometimes, I’m made fun of for it. I like to consider myself as a well-rounded person. I could literally do anything, and it would be fun.”
The 6-foot-5, 235-pounder treats the tight end position in a similar manner. For Bauman, it’s not simply about producing flashy numbers. He embraces all aspects of the position.
RBC’s run-heavy offense limits Bauman’s opportunities as a receiving tight end. The Caseys also feature another elite tight end in Boston College commit Charlie Gordinier. So Bauman grabbed just 15 passes for 342 yards and two touchdowns in 11 games as a junior.
The Irish offered Bauman prior to his junior season and before Mayer. His prowess beyond catching the football might explain why. He also takes pride in his blocking duties.
“You see a lot of tight ends at the high school level look like glorified receivers, if you will,” Bauman said. “They are bigger receivers. But at the next level and beyond, to really excel and be elite at tight end, you have to block better.
“You have to block better or just as well as catching passes or running routes. That’s helped me spread my focus evenly around all aspects of my game.”
There’s a reason why Bauman evokes high praise nationally. The four-star recruit ranks as Rivals’ No. 4 tight end and No. 121 overall player in the 2020 recruiting class. 247Sports pegs Bauman No. 9 at the position and No. 317 overall.
The Irish look for tight ends that can be used in different ways. Brock Wright, for example, served a niche blocking role as a sophomore last season. He tallied just two receptions for 12 yards and a touchdown. However, Wright played every game and saw action in pivotal blocking situations, including as a fullback of sorts at times.
“Wright was the same way. He played for a run-oriented team,” said CBS Sports Network recruiting analyst Tom Lemming, comparing Wright with Bauman. “Bauman knows how to block. He’s a very good blocker already, whereas most tight ends aren’t. That puts Kevin ahead of other tight ends who are more split out as wide receivers really.”
Offensive coordinator Chip Long plugged four tight ends into his offense last year — Nic Weishar, Alizé Mack, Cole Kmet and Wright. With Weishar’s eligibility expiring and Mack forgoing his senior season for the NFL, sophomores Tommy Tremble and George Takacs should receive more action.
All four of ND’s returning tight ends once needed to up the ante before seeing time and Bauman hopes to improve his explosiveness and quickness. He has put most of his focus on those areas since becoming Notre Dame’s second verbal commit, joining quarterback pledge Drew Pyne in June of 2018.
“I have been around some people that have hit cruise control at that point,” said Frank Edgerly, RBC’s head coach. “They will think, ‘What I’ve been doing is plenty enough.’ But Kevin is a rare breed in that regard. Enough is never enough.
“It’s really showing on the field. From freshman year until now, it has been a consistent progression. To take leap after leap is not common.”
Notre Dame signed two tight ends in 2017 (Kmet and Wright) and 2018 (Tremble and Takacs). The Irish look to ink Mayer and Bauman this cycle, with Mayer enrolling early and Bauman joining the team next June.
Surpassing Mayer could be challenging for Bauman. The four-star Mayer ranks as 247Sports’ No. 1 tight end and No. 88 overall player. Rivals tags Mayer as No. 3 at the position and No. 71 overall. The Irish also earned a verbal commitment from four-star 2021 tight end Cane Berrong last month.
The Irish could also have as many as six tight ends in 2020. Takacs and Tremble possess three years of eligibility remaining after this season. The crowded position group should minimize Bauman’s short-term production.
But because Long’s system involves multiple tight ends, Bauman could carve himself a role by year two. And he likely won’t need the targets and passing game involvement to feel satisfied.
“I’m really all about doing what’s asked of me and doing my job for the team,” Bauman said. “If my job is to block, I’m going to block. If my job is to run a route, catch a pass and score a touchdown, that’s what I’m going to do. When my number is called, I’m ready and excited.
“If that’s to stay in and block or whatever it might be, I really take full pride in whatever my job is.”