Notre Dame's 25 Most Important Players: No. 6, Tommy Tremble
Over the past month, BlueandGold.com has been featuring a countdown of the 25 most pivotal figures relied on to help lead Notre Dame back to the College Football Playoff in 2020.
This is not necessarily about who is the best player or the top pro prospect. It’s more along the lines of individuals who need to either emerge, remain a centerpiece or significantly elevate their production to facilitate the Fighting Irish goal of climbing toward championship timber.
Much is based on talent and impact, but a premium is also placed on these questions: 1) If you subtracted this individual from the roster, how much a setback would it be? 2) If this less proven player emerges and makes an impact, how much does that raise the ceiling (or lower it, if a breakout does not happen as expected)? The players and their ranking were determined by vote from five BlueandGold.com writers.
No. 6 is junior tight end Tommy Tremble, who collected 89 points in our poll.
Why Tremble Is Ranked 6th
In this countdown, Tremble is the first player to receive a unanimous top 10 ranking among all five of our staff members, with a high of No. 7 twice.
The assembly line of Notre Dame future pros at tight end appears safe to continue in the hands (and legs) of Tremble.
In his debut season of college football last year, Tremble started seven times, mostly in double tight end alignments with second-round pick Cole Kmet, and totaled 316 snaps (24 per game) to Kmet’s 707.
A vertical threat with his speed and maneuverability, Tremble’s 16 catches for 183 yards and four scores were the best by an Irish sophomore tight end since Tyler Eifert in 2010.
Don’t stereotype him as merely a pass catcher, either. He’s physical, and his 82.8 run-blocking grade, per PFF, was much better than Kmet’s 55.3, although in fairness Kmet had more than double the snaps.
With Kmet now in the NFL, Tremble is the heir to a position that has seen every opening game starter at tight end since 2004 get drafted by the NFL — six of them in the second or first round, and three the first selected at their positions, including Kmet.
There might be some questions on whether the departure of 2017-19 offensive coordinator Chip Long — who was the position coach for the tight ends — might reduce the positions emphasis. However, first-year coordinator Tommy Rees cherished the position as a quarterback with the likes of, Eifert, Troy Niklas and Ben Koyack as targets, and the consistent recruiting excellence there basically mandates a continued emphasis on their impact.
Tremble’s Status Entering The Season
With the likes of Tremble, senior Brock Wright, the highest ranked Irish recruit in the 2017 haul, junior four-star George Takacs and a dynamic freshman tandem of Michael Mayer (highest ranked Notre Dame tight end since Rudolph’s arrival in 2008) and Kevin Bauman, count on the position to remain a point of emphasis, with multiple tight-end alignments.
This type of quality depth does prompt an inquiry on whether Tremble is ranked too high in this survey. After all, if an injury were to befall him, the position would hardly be destitute. Players such as Wright, Takacs and perhaps even the freshman Mayer would start at a lot of Power 5 Conference schools, and could at Notre Dame this year too.
Be that as it may, Tremble provides a unique vertical dimension at the position with his speed that necessitates a defense having to account for him, especially in the middle. Wright, who has four career catches through three seasons, and Takacs, two in two years, are capable pass catchers but their roles have been more as blockers.
Mayer could become another dynamic target, but will likely experience a learning curve, much like Tremble did last year in a secondary role. Listed at 6-3, 233 this spring, a third year in a college strength and conditioning program should facilitate Tremble's progress (see cover photo).
Finally, Tremble had more receptions (16) and touchdowns (four) last year than any returning player, and that was just as an apprentice to Kmet. He also displayed physicality and effectiveness as a blocker, often times while lined up at slot, such as on this touchdown run by Tony Jones Jr. versus Virginia.
Matching the 707 snaps Kmet had last season — despite missing the first two games — might be a tall task, but Tremble’s presence as a receiver, blocker, and perhaps even decoy, should be a vital presence in the 2020 offense.
What Would Be Considered A Successful Individual Season?
It's conceivable that Tremble could put himself in the same position where Kmet was last year — contemplating in December and January whether to return for his senior season or turn pro, where he is classified among NFL scouts as a viable second-day selection, if not first.
Statistically, Tremble had a better sophomore year than Kmet did as a 2018 sophomore (15 catches, 162 yards, no scores), and Tremble’s PFF grade as a blocker last season demonstrated he is hardly a one-dimensional figure at the position and is pigeon-hold exclusively as a “pass catcher.”
From a data perspective and depending on how many games are played, doubling last year’s output is quite doable, although eight touchdowns probably is less likely in a spread-the-wealth passing attack.
Behind The Ranking
The top 25 was determined in the same manner as the AP Top 25. Five BlueandGold.com writers submitted their ballots, and each position on the ballot was given a point value. The top ranking was worth 25 points, No. 2 was worth 24, No. 3 worth 23 and so on down until No. 25, which was worth one point. The players with the 25 highest point totals made the list.
Patrick Engel: 9
Lou Somogyi: 10
Mike Singer: 7
Todd Burlage: 7
Andrew Mentock: 8
Prior Top 25 Profiles