Set, if Necessary

The addition of three-star tight end prospect Nic Weishar could close the position's recruitment for Notre Dame's 2014 class. Then again, that's why the term Big Skill exists as part of head coach Brian Kelly's recruiting model, as O'Malley explains in this, his seventh "Recruit Fit" column of the season, one that includes an examination of program tight ends upon Weishar's arrival in 2014.

Well, he came to the right place if he wants to develop and play professionally.

Marist High School (Chicago, Ill.) tight end Nic Weishar is the seventh pledge to head coach Brian Kelly's 2014 recruiting class. He'll likely be one of six scholarship tight ends on the '14 roster and unless attrition to the current Irish squad occurs, the only tight end recruit for this cycle.

At 6'5" 235 pounds (up 20 pounds from his 2012 playing weight), Weishar's top develop skills include body control while tracking and possessing the football, quickness out of his breaks, and the innate ability to catch most throws in his radius -- low, high, behind, you name it, Weishar can reel it in.

The most intriguing aspect of his recruitment is a reported 20 pounds gained since last fall, because at 235, Weishar runs with the gait of a lighter athlete, an attribute that will help him navigate the traffic of collegiate zone defenses.

He's well-equipped to play as a detached tight end in modern offenses, and though no future player at the position is likely to match 2013 first round draft pick Tyler Eifert's production and impact as a hybrid wideout in Kelly's system, Weishar's body control should allow him to occasionally align to the boundary, especially in goal-to-go situations.

Like Eifert, Weishar doesn't run with the burden of a stiff upper body -- a rare trait for collegiate tight ends, even at Tight End U.

Upon Arrival

A look at tight end eligibility when Weishar hits campus prior to the 2014 season:

Former Big Skill Recruit: Expected 2013 starter Troy Niklas will enter his senior season. Niklas played as a true freshman linebacker in 2011 and will exhaust his eligibility in Weishar's true freshman year.

On the Mend: Likely to return from the 2013 squad is current senior Alex Welch. A season removed from ACL surgery, Welch is a favorite of the staff, ranking as the most consistent blocker among the team's current crop. It would be a major surprise -- assuming good health -- if Welch doesn't return for a fifth year in 2014.

Former Top Dog: Current junior Ben Koyack will also enter his last season of eligibility in 2014. Koyack was the No. 1 rated tight end prospect in 2011 according to FOX Sports NEXT.

New to the Cause: January 2013 enrollee Mike Heuerman will be in his second season upon Weishar's arrival in South Bend. Heuerman's assimilation to the team could allow for sparse playing time in 2013.

Ready to Join: Heuerman's fellow 2013 pledge Durham Smythe will arrive in June. Barring a pair of injuries in front of him, it seems unlikely Smythe would be pressed into action this season.

Three of Notre Dame's five tight ends for the upcoming season will exhaust eligibility after 2014. Only Weishar, Smythe, and Heuerman will be available for the 2015 squad, Weishar's second with the program.

The 15th ranked tight end per FOX Sports NEXT's initial rankings this spring, Weishar will enter his second season with the program in 2015 -- a year that will serve as a transition season at the position for the Notre Dame program.

Gone will be three and four-year competitors Niklas and Koyack. Welch will also be done. Afforded good health, the trio will be the program's tight end triumvirate for both 2013 and 2014 seasons.

'15 will be the dawn of the Heuerman/Smythe, and Weishar eras. Kelly and his staff would thus need two (mandatory) pledges for the 2015 cycle to ensure continued good health at the position. Which leads me to the following…

Not Done Yet?

Could Notre Dame use one of its approximate 22 spots in the '14 cycle on a second tight end? The '14 roster would have seven at the position, but just four would return for '15. The Irish could then target a lone tight end for '15 to return to a more manageable five to develop at the position, each of which would remain in the fold for at least two seasons (current freshmen Heuerman and Smythe would be true seniors in 2016).

Expect Kelly to bring in at least one Big Skill profile athlete that could convert to tight end for 2015 -- the player's true sophomore season -- to take pressure off any incoming freshmen in the '15 recruiting cycle.

The addition of a true tight with Weishar in this class would close the position's recruitment and make more difficult the addition of a top prospect for 2015.

For now it's Weishar and a neat bow on the tight end position...but expect a Big Skill pledge to follow.

Editor's Note: Brian Dohn's "Scout's Take" film review column on Weishar is forthcoming.

Click here for O'Malley's first installment in the season-long "Recruit Fit" series, and a look at pledges Greer Martini, Justin Brent, Jimmy Byrne, Jay Hayes, and Andrew Trumbetti.

Our look at interior offensive line prospect Sam Mustipher, the 2014 class's sixth pledge, can be found here.


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