Reviewing the Redshirts is an off-season series meant to resurrect discussion around the current Irish freshmen who did not play in 2013.
There were 13 this year who retained a year of eligibility and today we take a look at a stringy tight end trying to find a role as a pass catcher in the offense.
TE, Mike Heuerman
Hometown: Naples, Florida
Height: 6-3 1/2
247Sports COMPOSITE RANKING:
4-star, No. 9 TE, No. 39 FL, No. 256 USA, 0.9040 score
Need at Position: High
Expected Spot on 2014 Depth Chart: Often Used Backup
Here's what I had to say about Heuerman following National Signing Day 2013:
Heuerman looks like the next playmaking tight end for the Irish. He doesn't have the height that Tyler Eifert has, but Heuerman might be a little quicker in the open field. I like his effort while blocking and I think he'll do well at the next level being attached to the line. He has a nice muscular physique but I do wonder if that might limit his ability to put on 30 more pounds of weight.
If he can add weight without any problems we have a great one at the tight end spot. I don't know how the extra weight will affect him but right now he's the most agile tight end we have. If he's fast enough Heuerman could be a major down field threat in this offense.
Mike is an interesting prospect because his body-type says detached receiving tight end but his high school film said strong blocker. As he heads into his second season there's still a lot of mystery surrounding exactly where Heuerman fits into the Irish offense.
The ability to add weight was a worry since last year and it looks like it's still a problem. Heuerman is 36 pounds lighter than senior Ben Koyack and also 17 pounds lighter than classmate Durham Smythe. Oftentimes if a player is skinny the usual response is that he has 'the frame to add weight' but Heuerman was of the cut and skinny variety that can struggle to add weight. Judging by the recent spring roster and available shots of him in a Notre Dame uniform it could be a fight to get to 240 in the near future.
Due to his size then Heuerman seems destined to be a jumbo receiver detached from the line. As the presumed third string tight end he'd normally be preparing for a lot of playing time but we'll have to see how the pecking order shakes out once the two freshmen arrive in August. Many believe Tyler Luatua--likely to be in the 240 range--could be used as the third in-line blocker so that would limit Heuerman's snaps a bit.
So where does this leave Heuerman? Some sort of a H-back role has been discussed quite a bit. That could be a terrific fit if his blocking skills have translated well to the college game. However, as much as I would like to see a H-back incorporated into the offense on a consistent basis I'm not sure that's part of the plan moving forward.
I think this means Heuerman has to make an impact early in his career as a receiving threat. If the larger bodies in the slot plan continues he could be used there quite a bit. Still, I think Heuerman's role in 2014 will be pretty small absent any injuries to Koyack or Smythe.