A peek ahead: Notre Dame tight end Nic Weishar

Bob Wieneke
South Bend Tribune

There’s the fact that both entered college mildly undersized for their position. The obvious is that both chose the same small, Catholic school in the Midwest at which to play their college football.

And then there’s the common description — one in 2009, one five years later — that both entered school as wide receiver in a tight end’s body.

The first is former Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert, now in his second season with the Cincinnati Bengals. The other is current Irish freshman Nic Weishar.

And Pat Dunne, Weishar’s head coach at Marist Academy in Midlothian, Ill., is among those who believe Weishar reminds them of Eifert.

“He does,” Dunne said. “You know what. He really does.”

That’s a really good thing. Eifert left Notre Dame following the 2012 season with school records for pass receptions by a tight end in a season (63) and for his career (128). Eifert set that single-season mark in 2011, and followed it up with a 50-catch season in 2012.

Receptions by Irish tight ends dipped to 42 last season, the first of the post-Eifert Era, and 30 this season, with only the Dec. 30 Music City Bowl against LSU remaining. With Ben Koyack graduating, only one Irish tight end on the roster who has a reception, Durham Smythe, returns, and he has just one career catch.

So there’s room for a pass-catching tight end in the ND offense, and Weishar just could be that guy. His 237 receptions are the most ever by an Illinois high school player, and Dunne has a pretty good reason why.

“The way I described him to college coaches, if you were to come to one of my practices, no matter what play you were watching in practice, you would have thought the state championship was on the line with how hard he went,” Dunne said.

Weishar appears to be going hard in the weight room. He was listed at 215 pounds on signing day but that number was 237 in August when the school issued its 2014 roster. That number is still a little smallish, but the freshman is a lot closer to college-ready than he was when he inked his letter-of-intent. But it was what he did prior to inking that letter-of-intent with Notre Dame over offers from Michigan, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Mississippi, among others.

“There were so many things that we could do and he was so hard to defend because of his size, his speed, his athleticism, and obviously the way he catches the football, that he created mismatches all over the place,” Dunne said.

While Weishar was on the path to his record-setting high school career, he watched tape of not only opponents, but also of star tight ends.

“Nic’s a student of the game,” Dunne said. “He is one of the smartest football players I’ve ever been around. He’s a guy that studied a lot, not only opponents, but looked at players. I think he definitely knew Tyler Eifert, and Notre Dame’s tight ends and other guys throughout the country. He’s always trying to perfect everything he does.”

That could go far in Notre Dame firming its grip on the “Tight End U” moniker. Recent Irish tight ends currently include Anthony Fasano, John Carlson, Kyle Rudolph, Eifert and Troy Niklas. It’s tough to say if Koyack will continue that string, but Weishar looks to be a pass-catching option at the position, beginning next fall.

“You can split him out. You can put him inline. You can motion him across as a wingback. He’s just an unbelievably versatile player with unbelievable hands,” Dunne said. “With his length and range and ball skills, being able to go up and catch the ball, in my eyes he’s the complete package.”

Photo Courtesy of Notre Dame Sports Information