When Nic Weishar played his last game for Marist High School in Chicago, he wrapped up his prep career as the all-time leading receiver in Illinois high school history with 237 catches for 3,050 yards.
During Weishar’s senior year alone, he caught 86 passes for 1,044 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also made 48 tackles with three sacks, three forced fumbles and three interceptions as a senior. Weishar’s receiving number were equally gaudy his junior (89-1,100-5) and sophomore (77-1,160-13) years.
After participating in the Army All-America Bowl in San Antonio, Weishar arrived at Notre Dame, where he would preserve a year of eligibility as a freshman in 2014 as he began the process of adding bulk to his frame in his development from wide receiver to tight end.
As a red-shirt freshman in 2015, Weishar played in 12 games – he missed the Wake Forest game due to a concussion – and started two (Clemson and Stanford). He caught three passes for 18 yards – one each versus Georgia Tech, UMass and Navy.
As spring drills concluded in April, he was in a battle with Durham Smythe and Alizé Jones for snaps at tight end with converted defensive tackle Jacob Matuska also getting reps. (Note: Fellow junior Tyler Luatua, who did not practice in the spring, will be back on the roster this fall after deciding against transferring from Notre Dame.)
• BEST-CASE SCENARIO
With Alizé Jones getting snaps at the W position, the 6-foot-4, 245-pound Weishar could be well-positioned to split the majority of the reps at Y (tight end) with Durham Smythe. Weishar’s size and athleticism have him primed to develop into a two-headed weapon with Smythe.
• WORST-CASE SCENARIO
Jones remains predominately a tight end, thus pushing Weishar back to No. 3 on the depth chart where it’s difficult to get any meaningful reps, let alone receptions at a position that generally is targeted fairly sparingly as it is. Weishar’s hands, size and athleticism should keep him on the cusp of a significant role even if he can’t move up the depth chart, although Smythe and Jones offer a similar skillset.
• CAREER COMPARISON
In 1983, 6-foot-4, 225-pound tight end Joel Williams played sparingly as Notre Dame’s No. 3 tight end, and then dropped back to No. 4 on the depth chart behind Mark Bavaro, Ricky Gray and Brian Behmer as a sophomore. He ultimately would never rise higher than No. 3 on the depth chart, but would conclude his Notre Dame career with 13 of his 21 receptions coming in his senior year (1986), three of which went for touchdowns. He narrowly missed a fourth in the season-opener against Michigan – Lou Holtz’s first game as head coach of the Irish – on a controversial end zone pass that was ruled incomplete in a 24-23 loss.
• DEVELOPMENT VS. RECRUITING RANKING
Scout rated Weishar the No. 13 tight end in the country and a four-star prospect coming out of Marist High School. That rating was a projection despite still having to make the transition to the tight end position. Entering his junior year, he has just three career receptions and sits, at best, No. 2 on the depth chart. There’s work to be done to begin reaching his high school projections.
• WEISHAR AT HIS BEST
Weishar caught one pass in three games – all Irish victories – versus Georgia Tech, UMass and Navy. He probably received the most acclaim of his first two years in the program during August 2015 pre-season camp when he appeared to be carving out a spot in the tight end rotation as a goal-line receiver.
• QUOTE OF NOTE
“As a tight end, one of the main things we need to focus on is being a reliable threat in the red zone. Growing up as a basketball player really helped me out in that area. Just kind of boxing out – using my body – has really helped me develop. I’ve seen the basketball aspect in the red zone.”
-- Nic Weishar