Prediction No.1 for the 2016 Notre Dame Football Season: The Return of TightEndU


Over the next couple weeks I will give you my 16 predictions for the 2016 Notre Dame football season. Some may be bold, while others may seem quite obvious. They’ll just be 16 things I think Irish fans will see from the Notre Dame football team in 2016. So, without any further ado here is prediction No.1.

Prediction No.1: The Return of TightEndU

For the past 15 years Notre Dame has been known for producing elite tight ends. From Jabari Holloway to Anthony Fasano, to Kyle Rudolph to Tyler Eifert, the Irish have had success with developing tight ends. They’ve had so much success that Notre Dame has been dubbed as “TightEndU”, but since Eifert graduated after the 2012 season, the tight end position has taken a back seat in the Notre Dame offense. Look for head coach Brian Kelly to feature his tight ends, Durham Smythe and Alize Jones, in a more prominent role in 2016.

Last season the tight end position produced just 233 yards and 1 touchdown, and that touchdown came on a fake field goal shovel pass to Smythe. If it wasn’t for Smythe going down for the season, we probably would have saw more of the tight end last season. Smythe will be back at full strength this season, so we should see more production from the tight end. He is a complete tight end in that he has great pass catching and blocking abilities. As of now he is probably ahead of Jones on the depth chart, but realistically both will get playing time.

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With a year under his belt look for Jones to get more chances in 2016. Jones was a highly rated recruit in last year’s class and showed flashes of what he can do last season. He actually led all ND tight ends in receiving yards with 190. Jones is big, physical and on top of that he has some speed. He’s more of an Eifert-type tight end. Don’t be surprised if Kelly has Jones lining up on the outside in a wide receiver spot. One knock he had on him last season was his blocking abilities. If he improves on that this season the Irish will have two elite tight ends in Smythe and Jones.

In Kelly’s first four seasons the tight end was prominently featured and over the last two seasons it’s been a different story. The previous four seasons Irish tight ends produced 3,046 yards and 23 touchdowns. Over the past two seasons the tight end position has produced just 557 yards and 3 touchdowns. Most of that can be due to the fact the Irish just haven’t had the horses at the position, but that shouldn’t be the case this season. Smythe and Jones should form a dangerous duo at tight and we should see the return of TightEndU.