Practice notes: Michael Mayer has message for doubters of Tight End U; Shrewsberry stops by

Mike Berardino
ND Insider

SOUTH BEND — Outgoing Notre Dame tight end Michael Mayer had a pointed message for anyone concerned about a drop-off in production at Tight End U.

“The tight end room is not in trouble,” Mayer said after Friday’s Pro Day workout for NFL scouts. “We’ve got plenty of tight ends in there that can play at a very, very high level.”

Rave reviews:Sam Hartman throwing passes to Michael Mayer? Oh, what might have been

Mayer broke virtually every tight end record in program history during his three-year college career, but the consensus first-team All-American and projected NFL first-round draftee is still a believer in the group he mentored.

“They’re going to be great,” Mayer said. “Kevin Bauman’s going to be coming back from his (ACL) injury soon, one of my good buddies here. Mitch Evans, Holden (Staes). Eli (Raridon) is making a big-time recovery (from a second ACL tear in 10 months) right now.”

That well-regarded quartet enters 2023 with a combined 11 career receptions for 130 yards and one touchdown. Evans had the game-winning 16-yard grab with 1:38 left in the 45-38 win over South Carolina on Dec. 30.

In addition, four-star signee Cooper Flanagan, from the same Concord, Calif., program (De La Salle) that produced Isaiah Foskey, is set to enroll in June.

Both Bauman and Raridon, who suffered their injuries within a month of each other last fall, are being held out of spring drills but say they are targeting full clearance for June strength and conditioning.

Notre Dame tight ends coach and offensive coordinator Gerad Parker goes through drills Saturday, March 25, 2023, at Notre Dame spring football practice in South Bend.

As for following Mayer, they embrace the impossible challenge.

“It’s definitely going to be hard to replace Mike,” Raridon said. “but we have a great tight end room and a lot of us can fill in his shoes.”

For the record, Mayer wore a size-15 cleat at Notre Dame, according to the “Cleats for a Cause” online auction last season. Raridon, at 6-foot-7 and 250 pounds, was tied with six others for the team lead at size 16.

Former Notre Dame tight end Michael Mayer and Wake Forest grad transfer quarterback Sam Hartman walk to another area for drills Friday, March 24, 2023, at Notre Dame Pro Day activities in South Bend.

Sam Hartman's fish story

Gerad Parker, asked about having quarterback Sam Hartman over to his house recently, gave the North Carolina native high marks for his fishing prowess.

“You know what, to go out in the cold weather … and catch two fish in that pond tells you something,” Parker said of the Wake Forest graduate transfer. “I didn’t think they were moving around out there just yet, so he’s got some talent.”

Hartman told the story on March 8 in his first exposure to the local media.

“I went fishing at their house this past weekend, so that was fun,” Hartman said. “I met his whole crew, his (four) kids. His kid made me a little hat.”

Which kid was that?

“Oliver, my son — the O.G.,” Parker said. “Oh, yeah. It’s like a pirate hat, colored on with stickers. It was important to him. I think it was about a 10-minute process. He stuck (it) together. And then he was pounding on the windows. Probably made the other fish run.”

Fake punt spoils from Gator Bowl

Davis Sherwood’s phone blew up before the Gator Bowl even ended.

Notre Dame tight end Davis Sherwood (38) at Gator Bowl practice at Fernandina Beach (Fla.) High School on Monday, Dec. 26, 2022.

The former walk-on linebacker who moved to tight end out of necessity played a key role in the fake punt that Notre Dame used to reclaim the momentum in the fourth quarter against South Carolina. From his upback position on fourth-and-4 from the Irish 33, Sherwood took the direct snap from Michael Vinson and flipped a perfect jet-sweep toss to speedy gunner Braden Lenzy.

The “beautifully executed” play, per Marcus Freeman’s postgame description, went for 20 yards around right end. Sherwood, a 2021 signee out of Maryland’s Our Lady of Good Counsel High School, would hear from his buddies back home for days.

“I had so many screenshots of the play, even from friends who didn’t watch it,” Sherwood said. “They were like, ‘Yo! You threw a pass?’ I was like, ‘Kind of. It was more of a pitch.’ But I’ll probably put that stat up somewhere for my kids, and I’ll tell them I threw it all 20 yards.”

Injury updates

Jadarian Price, the redshirt freshman running back who had left Achilles surgery nine months ago, trotted across the street to the indoor practice facility on a raw Saturday morning.

This was a good sign for the Denison, Texas product who starred in last year’s Blue-Gold Game. While Price continues to work on the side with a handful of rehabbing players, there is hope he might be cleared to participate before spring practice ends.

Notre Dame running back Jadarian Price (20) high fives fans during the Notre Dame vs. Boston College NCAA football game Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022 at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend.

Logan Diggs, meanwhile, was in street clothes as he walked into practice No. 3 Saturday. The junior running back, who has produced 10 touchdowns and 1,319 yards from scrimmage through two seasons, appeared to be moving without issue.

Diggs returned ahead of schedule from labrum surgery on his left shoulder after a spring game injury last April.  

Guests of honor

Justin Scott, a five-star defensive lineman from Chicago’s St. Ignatius High School, headlined a long list of recruiting targets in attendance for Saturday’s practice.

More than 125 visitors, including family members, crammed into the second-floor viewing area at the IAC. Scott, at 6-foot-4 and 310 pounds, is rated the 11th-best overall prospect in the Class of 2024, according to 247 Sports Composite.

Newly named Notre Dame men’s basketball coach Micah Shrewsberry, center, walks with his family and a university representative, foreground, toward the Irish Athletics Center, March 25, 2023, where the football team is taking part in spring football practice in South Bend.

Two-time defending national champion Georgia, along with USC and Ohio State, are considered to be Notre Dame’s top competition for Scott. He reportedly has visits scheduled for Georgia (June 2) and Ohio State (June 23).

Micah Shrewsberry, hired away from Penn State to coach Notre Dame’s men’s basketball, spoke briefly to the Irish football team after meeting Freeman on Saturday.

Born and raised in Indiana, with coaching stops at five different Indiana programs — Wabash, DePauw, IUSB, Butler and Purdue — Shrewsberry told the players Notre Dame football has always been his favorite.

Follow Notre Dame football writer Mike Berardino on Twitter @MikeBerardino.