Notre Dame 99-to-0: No. 88 Mitchell Evans, early-enrolled freshman tight end
Listed measurements: 6-foot-5 ⅛, 248 pounds.2021-22 year, eligibility: An early-enrolled freshman, Evans has all four years of playing eligibility remaining as he enters the 2021 season.Depth chart: Notre Dame has its lead tight end — lead aerial target, for that matter — in sophomore Michael Mayer. Irish head coach Brian Kelly indicated senior George Takacs has earned his chance at the No. 2 role, meaning Evans’ best chance in the short-term is to beat out both classmate Cane Berrong and sophomore Kevin Bauman for situational work.Recruiting: Most of the Midwest chased the consensus three-star recruit, Evans turning down Iowa State, Michigan State and Pittsburgh. Rivals.com rated the Ohio prospect the No. 26 tight end in the class.
CAREER TO DATE
With Mayer sidelined in the Blue-Gold Game, Evans started along with Berrong for the Blue team, opposite Takacs on the Gold. On Blue’s second possession, sophomore quarterback Drew Pyne converted a fourth down by finding Evans, and then the two connected for a 32-yard gain in the second quarter.
Early-enrolled freshman quarterback Tyler Buchner also found Evans for a 23-yard reception after halftime. All in all, Evans caught three passes for 59 yards when he would normally have been preparing for a high school civics exam.
NAME, IMAGE, LIKENESS
Tight end is a sure thing at Notre Dame for the next two years, thanks to Mayer, so the development of early-enrolled freshmen is not the most immediate of concerns, particularly when it is an early-enrolled freshman who played quarterback in high school, not catching a single pass his senior season.
“Mitchell Evans, a kid who hasn’t played tight end, has shown some extremely raw ability to be a really good player,” Irish offensive coordinator Tommy Rees said last month. “He’s a big human being that has good subtle movement skills and is able to be fluid and catch the ball and stretch the defense with his length.”
WHAT WAS SAID WHEN EVANS SIGNED
“First-year Irish offensive coordinator Tommy Rees has shown a penchant for jumbo packages near the goal line. Those function best with large, able-bodied tight ends. Enter Evans. …
“Takacs has yet to find himself more than a niche role on this roster, but his 6-foot-6, 245-pound frame is the most comparable to Evans’. Takacs’ lack of consistent playing time is certainly a testament to the other tight ends on the roster, but it makes it difficult to project how and when Evans will find himself chances to impact.”
Taking this first year to learn the finer points of being a tight end, from route-running to not fighting the pass to run-blocking, will be time well spent for Evans, despite that impressive performance in the spring finale.
Mayer affords Notre Dame that luxury, perhaps more than ever, which is saying something at “Tight End U.”
DOWN THE ROADMayer will head to the NFL after the 2022 season, and Takacs will no longer be around by then, either. But Rees will still prefer to frequently utilize tight ends — a carryover from his most successful playing days — and the Irish will still have a bounty of them on the roster.
Evans will get his chance then, but he will have to earn anything more than that. Between Bauman, Berrong and the pair of tight end commitments from last week, Notre Dame will have a plethora of highly-touted options. Evans may be the least among them, as far as recruiting rankings go.
That is understandable, given he was a quarterback in high school. So by no means do those recruiting rankings condemn Evans to not moving up future depth charts. But he has some work to do to make that happen.
NOTRE DAME 99-TO-0
Let’s try this again
No. 99 Rylie Mills, sophomore defensive tackle
No. 98 Alexander Ehrensberger, sophomore defensive end
No. 97 Gabriel Rubio, early-enrolled freshman defensive tackle the size of a Volkswagen
No. 95 Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, fifth-year defensive tackle-turned-end
No. 92 Aidan Keanaaina, sophomore defensive tackle