Featured Performer: Michael Mayer

Author: Delaney Gibbons

Considered one of the best tight ends in the nation after receiving Freshman All-America honors, Michael Mayer is no stranger to play-making for the Irish, with 840 yards and seven touchdowns on the season. Mayer was a strength for the Irish offense, excelling in his ability to haul in tough catches, and was the top receiver in several of Notre Dame’s games this season.

Mayer is a former four-star recruit hailing from Kentucky, who almost didn’t play football at all. Lucky for the Irish, Mayer was convinced to sign up during his freshman year of high school. When Mayer came to South Bend, expectations were high for the No. 1 ranked player in Kentucky. 

Mayer did not disappoint in his freshman season, posting various multi-reception games and helping the Irish reach the College Football Playoff. 

This season, Mayer elevated his game to a whole new level. In the season opener against FSU, Mayer’s nine receptions tied the Notre Dame record for most catches by an Irish tight end in a single game. His 120 yards receiving was the most by an Irish tight end since Sept. 11, 2010 when Kyle Rudolph hauled in 164 yards against Michigan. It was also his first career 100-yard game. 

Mayer continued the playmaking trend throughout the season. He had a multiple touchdown game against Toledo. In Chicago at Soldier Field, Mayer led the Irish with seven receptions in their win against a solid Wisconsin team. He again led the team with eight receptions in the disappointing loss against Cincinnati. Mayer also led the team with seven receptions against Virginia for 84 yards and a touchdown. He ended the regular season by setting the Notre Dame record for most receptions by a tight end in a single season (64) after catching nine for 105 yards in the win over Stanford. 

Despite the disappointing loss against Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl, Mayer had an excellent game, with two touchdowns and 72 receiving yards. 

Mayer’s consistency and chemistry with Irish quarterback Jack Coan helped Notre Dame win important games. His ability to use his size also helped the blocking effort for the Irish. 

Mayer is expected to declare for the NFL Draft after his junior season, and he is predicted to be drafted high in the first round. It’s no question his success in the league will continue beyond Notre Dame Stadium, but the Irish have Mayer in their arsenal next season and they are a better team for it.