NFL Draft: Notre Dame's Tommy Tremble goes to the Carolina Panthers in third round

Michael Wanbaugh
South Bend Tribune

Tight end Tommy Tremble became the fourth Notre Dame player to be selected in the 2021 NFL Draft Friday when he was taken by the Carolina Panthers with the 83rd overall pick in the third round.

He joins Irish teammates Liam Eichenberg, Aaron Banks and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah who were drafted earlier in the night.

The 6-4, 248-pound Tremble is a native of Jones Creek, Georgia, and will enter the NFL with much recognized potential, but modest college numbers from his three years with the Irish. A three-star recruit, Tremble spent his freshman year on the scout squad and didn’t see the field.

His sophomore year Tremble was behind Cole Kmet — a second-round pick of the Chicago Bears in 2020 — on the depth chart, and managed 16 catches for 183 yards and four touchdowns in 13 games. Last season he caught 19 passes for 218 yards and no touchdowns as freshman Michael Mayer emerged as the top passing-catcher at the position.

Notre Dame's Tommy Tremble (24) and Michael Mayer (87) head to the locker room following the ACC Championship football game against Clemson Dec. 19, 2020, inside Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. Clemson won 34-10.

In 25 collegiate games (17 starts), Tremble had 35 catches for 401 yards. But it was the run game where Tremble earned his keep, gaining the reputation as one of the top blocking tight ends in college football.

That was especially evident in 2020 as Tremble helped pave the way for Kyren Williams’ breakout season at running back with 1,125 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground.

“I think for the next level what I’m going to bring is (being) a guy who’s a complete tight end, a guy who can do it all,” Tremble said before his Pro Day workout in March. “My biggest strength, I think, is my versatility in all aspects of the game. No matter what anyone else says, they haven’t seen me do it all like that yet. They’ve only seen me do a tiny bit of it.”

Tremble continues a long line of Irish tight ends to be drafted into the league, becoming the eighth of the 11-year Brian Kelly era to be picked and the 14th taken since 2000.

He is the fourth tight end taken in this year's draft behind Florida's Kyle Pitts No. 4 overall to Atlanta, Penn State's Pat Freiermuth No. 55 to Pittsburgh, and Boston College's Hunter Long No. 81 to Miami.

What they were saying …

  • “I think (Tremble is) my third tight end, and he’s somebody that can bring some physicality.” — NFL draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah
  • “Plays like a linebacker. Great blocker. One of the best blocking tight ends you’ll see.” — ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr.
  • “He’s the elite prospect we thought he was. He backed up everything we thought we knew about him (during Pro Day). You really didn’t get to see him run a super-diverse route tree in games. He obviously wasn’t featured much, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be. And a 4.59 for as young as Tremble is and how new he is to the position, that’s going to get teams excited.” — Pro Football Focus draft analyst Mike Renner
  • “He was a spark plug for our team and for our offense especially. If we needed him to be the lead hat in the run game, he’d do it. He’d go and take out the best player and create a huge hole for the running backs. If we needed him to make a bug play down the field, running a certain route, he’d do it. … He’s just got a different level of physicality and he’s willing to put his body on the line. When you’ve got somebody on the field who’s willing to do that and put their body on the line for you, that’s a teammate that you want to have.” — Former Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book
Golden Notre Dame moment

In his first career game in Notre Dame’s 2019 season-opener at Louisville, Tremble earned the game ball after he had three catches for 49 yards and a touchdown in a 35-17 Irish win.

Notre Dame’s Tommy Tremble (24) reaches out to score his first career touchdown against Louisville on Sept. 2, 2019 at Cardinal Stadium in Louisville, Ky.

5 Things to know about Tommy Tremble

1 — Tremble is now a second-generation NFL player. His dad, Gregory, was a defensive back at the University of Georgia and later a member of the Dallas Cowboys team in 1995 that would win Super Bowl XXX.

2 — The 20th-ranked tight end coming out of high school in 2017, Tremble took visits to UCLA and Michigan before committing to Notre Dame.

3 — NFL.com has Tremble graded at a 6.32 on its 8-point scale, tabbing him to be a starter within two seasons.

4 — During his Pro Day work out for NFL scouts, Tremble ran a time of 4.59 seconds in the 40-yard dash. That’s the fastest by a Notre Dame tight end in similar events during the Brian Kelly era, which bested a 4.68 by All-American Tyler Eifert in 2013.

5 — Tremble is the 19th Notre Dame player to leave for the NFL after three years in South Bend since 1989. As a redshirt, he is just the second player — quarterback DeShone Kizer in 2017 being the first — to leave more than a year of college eligibility on the table. With the NCAA’s blanket COVID exemption, Tremble technically had three years left.

Notre Dame’s Tommy Tremble celebrates after scoring a touchdown against Virginia Tech on Nov. 2, 2019 at Notre Dame Stadium