Decision to return easy for Notre Dame TE Nic Weishar

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

Twelve games into Chip Long’s tenure at Notre Dame, Nic Weishar thinks he has a pretty good grasp on the production available for tight ends in the offensive coordinator’s playbook.

“The sky is the limit for us,” said the senior tight end. “We had so many plays drawn up for us, limitless opportunities.”

Those chances to make an impact made for an easy fifth-year decision for Weishar. He confirmed last week following the team’s Echoes awards show that he plans to return to Notre Dame for another season.

“I’ve done a lot in these four years, but another fifth year is going to be a great opportunity for me,” Weishar said. “I’m fired up to be a part of something special here.”

The 6-foot-5, 243-pound tight end has played in 36 of Notre Dame’s 37 games the last three seasons, but he’s cracked the starting lineup only four times. With fifth-year tight end Durham Smythe moving on after the Citrus Bowl, Weishar could be in line for a larger role.

The Irish started both Smythe and junior tight end Alizé Mack in 10 games this season. Mack (19 catches) and Smythe (13) finished the regular season fourth and fifth on the team in receptions.

Even though Weishar’s playing time was limited, only two players, wide receivers Kevin Stepherson and Equanimeous St. Brown, caught more than his two touchdown passes. Weishar totaled just 39 receiving yards with seven catches.

Weishar, who has NFL aspirations, could have chased an opportunity at guaranteed playing time as a graduate transfer, but he said he never really considered leaving.

“I feel like I have a lot of unfinished business here,” Weishar said. “So it’s kind of an easy decision for me on that end. Great support between all the coaches and all the players.”

At Echoes, Weishar received the Irish Around the Bend Award to recognize his efforts in community service. Beyond local activities, Weishar is also active with the Andrew Weishar Foundation, which provides resources to families with adolescents or young adults fighting cancer. Nic Weishar’s oldest brother, Andrew, died of colon cancer in 2012.

Earlier this month, the fifth annual WeishFest, an all-day musical festival, was held in Chicago with Third Eye Blind performing as the headline act. Nic Weishar said the event raised more than $200,000 and more than 3,000 people were in attendance. That included more than 25 of Nic Weishar’s teammates.

“They know how much it means to me. Therefore it means a lot to them,” Weishar said. “That’s probably the coolest part. It just shows the kind of character guys on this team. It’s so great to be friends with all of them.”

In returning for a fifth season, Weishar will assume an even greater leadership role. He will be the most experienced tight end on the roster with Mack and freshmen Brock Wright and Cole Kmet expected to return next season. Tight end commit George Takacs will join the Irish when he enrolls in January. Notre Dame added another tight end to the 2018 recruiting class Thursday with a commitment from Tommy Tremble.

He already sees bright futures for Wright and Kmet.

“Me, Cole, and Brock too, we’re all very similar in the way we act and the work ethic,” Weishar said. “They’re two great guys, very easy to coach. They’re going to be big-time players for us in the coming years for sure.”

There will be plenty of competition at tight end, and possibly plenty of footballs being thrown their way. Weishar will welcome it all.

“It’s going to be huge for me — obviously there’s going to be a lot of young guys in the room — to be able to lead the way and show them what it’s like to be a Notre Dame tight end,” Weishar said. “I’ve seen a lot of great tight ends that are in the NFL, and Durham’s hopefully going to be there next year too. Hopefully, I can take them all under my wing and show them what it’s like. It’s a big opportunity.”

tjames@ndinsider.com

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Notre Dame’s Nic Weishar (82) makes a touchdown catch with coverage from Temple’s Sam Franklin (36) during the Notre Dame-Temple NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017, at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend. Tribune Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN