Heuerman's growth for Irish measured by the pound

South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND — Mike Heuerman can vividly recall the details, ranging from the opponent to the offense run to the outcome of his final game as a high school player at Barron Collier High in Naples, Fla.

The reason? Perhaps it has to do with the fact that that 2012 contest was the last time he played in a game that had win-loss implications.

No, Saturday's Blue-Gold Game at Notre Dame Stadium won't be remembered for the final score, but it does give Heuerman a chance to hit and block and catch passes in a live setting.

"I'm jacked," Heuerman said Friday afternoon. "I haven't seen the field, outside of the spring game last year, in two years. It's just big because it gives me an opportunity to go out there and make plays and to show our coaches that I can be a consistent player."

A big part of how far Heuerman goes in stating his case is consistent weight gain for the long, but relatively lean, tight end.

Heuerman, listed at 6-foot-4, 225 pounds on the spring roster, says he's gained roughly 12 pounds since enrolling at ND in January 2013. He says his weight going into last season was about 227, but a sports hernia that required mid-October surgery prohibited him from running or lifting weights for eight weeks, which was a setback in what is an ongoing quest to add weight.

Heuerman, who did not play last season and retains four seasons of eligibility, would like to add 10 more pounds before the start of the 2014 season, and tight ends coach Scott Booker agreed that Heuerman is doing a good job in making gains, although there needs to be more out there for him.

"There is. There's no doubt," Booker said. "He's becoming committed and he has to continue to be committed to doing what we're asking him to do as far as making sure that he can keep that weight on."

That will play a large role in how much Heuerman is used this fall. With Troy Niklas gone to the NFL a year sooner than expected, Ben Koyack is the logical choice to ascend to the role of top pass-catcher at the position. Heuerman and classmate Durham Smythe are battling for playing time.

"We both know our roles and we've got a good relationship where we know that we're going out every day and competing against each other and that doesn't affect us off the field though," Heuerman said. "I think that drives both of us and will end up making both of us better in the future."

To help speed up the process of making him better, Heuerman often taps into Koyack, whose career began quietly before he proved last season that he can be a viable option in the passing game.

"He knows just about everything you can know," Heuerman said.

Another source is older brother Jeff, a tight end at Ohio State. The two talk daily, although since Jeff recently broke his foot and will be sidelined for eight weeks, Mike has been hesitant to bring up football to his recovering brother.

"That would be cruel to ask every day," Heuerman said.

Part of Heuerman's daily regimen is counting calories and making sure he's eating the proper foods in order to gain weight. He meets with a sports nutritionist once a week, the highlight coming when he can jump on the scale.

"It's not just chocolate donuts to say the least," he joked. "It's healthy things. Every now and then I'll sneak in a pizza or something and not tell our nutritionist. It's good things going in my body ... all the right things."

Mike Heuerman (9) is looking to become a viable option at tight end for Notre Dame. (SBT Photo/GREG SWIERCZ)