Notre Dame's Mack, Smythe and Mustipher appear on preseason award watch lists

Mike Vorel
South Bend Tribune

How loaded is Notre Dame at the tight end position this fall?

The Mackey Award, which honors college football's premier tight end, released its annual preseason watch list on Tuesday, and two Irish tight ends — graduate student Durham Smythe and junior Alizé Mack — made the cut.

Notre Dame senior Sam Mustipher was also included on the watch list for the Rimington Trophy, which is awarded to college football's best center.

Smythe — a 6-foot-6, 256-pound graduate student — led all Irish tight ends with  nine catches, 112 receiving yards and four touchdowns last season. That's partially due to the fact that Mack (6-5, 245) missed the season because of an academic suspension, a year after the true freshman recorded 13 catches for 190 yards in 2015.

The tight end position is expected to be a focal point of first-year Irish offensive coordinator Chip Long's attack this fall.

Mustipher — a 6-3, 305-pound senior — started all 13 games at the center position last fall. He's expected to be one of four returning starters on Notre Dame's offensive line in 2017.

Alizé Mack, right, is brought down by Te'von Coney during the Notre Dame spring football Blue-Gold game Saturday, April 22, 2017, at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend. Tribune Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN