The Irish were so sure they had two stud tight ends in this class, they didn’t even bother taking one last year.
Cole Kmet and Brock Wright will be out to prove the coaching staff prescient and help restore Notre Dame’s reputation as a producer of outstanding tight end talent.
Kmet is a four-star from St. Viator (Arlington Heights, Ill.) who committed to the Irish during his junior year. Kmet also held offers from the Michigan Wolverines, Ohio State Buckeyes, Michigan State Spartans, Wisconsin Badgers, Iowa Hawkeyes, Northwestern Wildcats and Tennessee Volunteers, among others. At 6-foot-5, 230 pounds, he’d be the tallest tight end on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish squad next year - but also the lightest.
Kmet is well regarded by the three major scouting services. He’s 88th on 247 Sports, 95th on Rivals and 109th on Scout. Rivals and 247 Sports believe Kmet is the third best tight end, while Scout has him fourth best. Scout put Colby Parkinson, a Stanford commit, Hunter Bryant, a Washington commit and Wright ahead of Kmet. While Parkinson is the near consensus top pick, the recruiting services are divided on Bryant, who 247 Sports considers just eighth best.
The Notre Dame depth chart at tight end is in a bit of flux. Tyler Luatua and Jacob Matuska, a converted defensive lineman, are used almost exclusively in blocking situations. Durham Smythe was the biggest contributor in the least productive position group last year, but he can use his final year of eligibility at another school if he chooses.
Aliz’e Jones will return after missing his second year due to academic ineligibility, and junior Nic Weishar is still with the team. Simply put, there’s a real opportunity for Kmet and Wright to see the field next year.
Notre Dame had been consistently developing tight end talent for several years. Tyler Eifert was a first round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals, while John Carlson, Anthony Fasano, Troy Niklas and Kyle Rudolph all being second round picks. Ben Koyack was selected in the seventh round of the 2015 NFL Draft, but no one has stepped up since his departure.
The Irish will look to new offensive coordinator Chip Long, who has experience coaching tight ends at both of his previous stops, to again make this position group a passing game threat.