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Will Weishar and Smythe Soften the Blow of Losing Jones?

The Irish are losing a lot with the suspension of Alize Jones, but they have two worthy candidates to replace him.

Notre Dame v Virginia Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Two weeks ago we learned that sophomore tight end Alize Jones would miss the 2016 season due to being academically ineligible. Many Irish fans were first caught off guard because Brian Kelly said everyone was good to go academically and physically. Secondly, they were worried because Jones was set to be a huge part of the Irish offense. He was one of a handful of players coming back that had actually caught a pass. Jones would have been the second, or perhaps first, target on the Irish offense. The loss of Jones hurts, it really does, but Notre Dame is not barren at the tight end position.

Notre Dame v Clemson Photo by Tyler Smith/Getty Images

The Irish still have junior Nic Weishar and senior Durham Smythe and they aren’t too shabby themselves. They’re much different players than Jones. Jones was a receiver in a tight ends body, while Weishar and Smythe are much more of your typical tight ends.

Weishar was a four-star recruit in the 2014 class and is the all-time leading receiver in Illinois high school history. He has yet to make an impact because during his freshman season the Irish still had Ben Koyack. Last season Smythe and Jones took most of the reps and they didn’t really utilize the tight end that much in 2015. The knock on Weishar was that he was a great pass catcher, but not a good blocker. So far in camp he looks to have turned the corner in that department and has become more of a complete package.

All reports from camp have been that Weishar has looked really good so far. Yes, the reports were the same on him last fall camp and he never really produced during the season. He’ll get more opportunities this season just because of sheer numbers. Notre Dame does have four tight ends, but only two of them (Weishar and Smythe) are legitimate pass catching threats. Weishar will get more than his fair share of chances this season.

NCAA Football: Notre Dame at Arizona State Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Smythe is a player that doesn’t get the attention he deserves. Fans easily forget that Smythe, not Jones, was the starting tight end before he went down with an injury last year. If he doesn’t get hurt last season, you probably would have seen more tight end packages.

Smythe is the complete tight end in that he’s an excellent blocker and pass catcher. He could easily be the second leading receiver in 2016, especially considering the lack of experience returning in the wide receiving corps.

You can understand why fans are worried about the loss of Jones, but like many of the other positions, Notre Dame has quality players ready to step in and produce. Weishar and Smythe will be worthy replacements for Jones and Irish fans will be pleasantly surprised with how they perform in 2016.