At first glance Notre Dame doesn’t need a tight end this cycle.
A closer look reveals why four-star George Takacs has become such a priority prospect for the Irish and offensive coordinator Chip Long.
Notre Dame should have six scholarship tight ends at its disposal when training camp opens in August: Durham Smythe, Nic Weishar, Alizé Mack, Tyler Luatua, Brock Wright and Cole Kmet. That suits Long’s playbook that will make multiple tight end sets more a base formation than a schematic oddity. Yet after this season that tight end depth chart could get slashed in half. Smythe and Luatua will depart. Mack might too.
It’s all part of the reason why Takacs continues to get plenty of attention from Notre Dame. According to Gulf Coast High School head coach Pete Fominaya that’s warranted, regardless of the Irish depth chart.
“He’s an exceptional player and we’re really fortunate to have him,” Fominaya said. “He has such exceptional skills. There’s not a lot of kids in the country that have his combination of size and speed and athleticism. The young man excels in the classroom as well, so I think he covers all fronts when you’re looking for a young man that you want to recruit.”
Although Takacs possesses elite size and ideal intangibles on and off the field, he was slightly overlooked before his impressive performance at The Opening Regional in Miami on February 26. That showing earned him an invite to The Opening Finals in Oregon this summer.
“We’re a small community and even though we’ve produced big-time athletes in the past, the likes of Edgerrin James is from right up the street and Deion Sanders is not too far from here,” Fominaya said. “We’ve had some big names that have come out of our area. But we’re still not as heavily recruited as some of the metropolitan schools are. I think it just took time. I knew eventually that he would get on people’s radars.”
Physically, Takacs is blessed with an ideal tight end frame.
“He’s every bit of 6-foot-7, 242-pounds,” Fominaya said. “He’s really, really conscious about his body. When he was a 10th grader, he was about 205 to 215 and we sat down and we put a plan together for him to kind of develop him to what he’s become now. He’s so meticulous and he’s so detail-oriented that he counts all his calories and he’s so specific about what he ate.
“Last year during the football season, he was at about the 230 to 235 range and he wanted the 240-mark. That’s all hard work, eating the right things and taking care of his body. He really takes a lot of pride in how far he’s come. He’s a great young man.”
Many tight end prospects at the high school level are competent receivers or skilled inline blockers.
Takacs does both.
“He takes so much pride in his blocking,” Fominaya said. “He was a converted wide-out to a tight end, so last season was his first true full season at tight end. He took it head-on and took so much pride, and really bought into becoming a part of the offensive line. He had so much fun being physical at the point of attack. There’s not many times that he’s going to go up against guys his size so sometimes people question his pad level. I think he does a great job and our coaches are really detailed with him.”
The Takacs family has been doing its homework on his list of offers.
“George is a national recruit and his offers grow continuously,” Fominaya said. “His parents are educated so they’re going to make and educated decision. None of this is going to just be a whim. They’re going to be very strategic about the school that he decides to go to.”
Midwest ties and direct connections to Notre Dame should play a major role.
“What’s special about Notre Dame is the parents are from Indiana,” Fominaya said. “He was born in Indiana. His parents went to Indiana, the mom went to grad school at Notre Dame. Their family is nearby, so there’s a family connection there with Notre Dame. That’s really important to him. I believe his grandparents still live over there now, near South Bend. Those ties are really important to the family. I think Notre Dame speaks for itself, the connections and the opportunities that school presents on the football field and in the classroom. Those are really important to George.
“I think he enjoyed watching them practice. I believe he was there for a morning practice. He was able to be around the players and watch the coaches and how they interacted with the players and I think he really enjoyed that. He was able to take that visit with some of his family members there from Indiana. So, that was a very comfortable atmosphere for him. He grew up being a Notre Dame fan, so that was a dream come true to be there and be a part of that program. I think he enjoyed himself while he was there.”
With visits to Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Minnesota and UCF in the books, Takacs has a plan to close in on a concise top group in the near future.
“I think he wants to make a decision by the end of the summer,” Fominaya said. “His plans are to visit Wisconsin and Notre Dame again. In the beginning of the summer, we’re going to visit a couple of schools in the Southeastern Conference. I think by the end of June – early July, he’ll have it narrowed down to where he’ll be comfortable making a decision. He has such a great opportunity ahead of him because they’re all great schools. They all have great tradition and they all have great coaching staffs and they’ve all been so gracious to George. I don’t think he can go wrong. He has a tough decision ahead of him.”
Fominaya is a strong believer in Takacs’ ability to become a productive tight end at the college level.
“He’s a young man that believes that if he’s going to be a great catcher, he’s also going to be a great blocker in order to be a complete tight end,” Fominaya said. “Any program that gets him is really going to get a blue-collar kid, a kid who brings his lunch pail to work everyday and really commits to the process.”