Irish head coach Charlie Weis had to feel pretty good about his situation at tight end on February 1 of this year. The Irish just signed the nation's top tight end prospect, Konrad Reuland, and had three quality tight ends returning for the 2006 season.
That all changed when sophomore Joey Hiben quit the team in February to pursue a architectural degree. Now Weis, and tight end coach Bernie Parmalee, will likely be scouring the country for two top tight ends to replace both Hiben and fifth-year senior Marcus Freeman, who will exhaust his eligibility at the end of the 2006 season.
Freeman has played sparingly in his career at Notre Dame, catching just five passes in four seasons, but someone will have to replace Fasano's 47 receptions from the 2005 season. Freeman, a bit undersized (6-3, 235), is quite athletic and might be a guy who can replace Fasano's productivity last season. He'll have an excellent opportunity to step in for Fasano as Weis uses two tight ends often in his offense.
Senior John Carlson will also have a great opportunity this season to grab the spotlight. At 6-6, 255 pounds, Carlson is considered even more athletic than Fasano, but the Litchfield, Minn. native hasn't been as consistent as the former Irish star.
Carlson has all the tools to be an exceptional tight end. With two years of eligibility remaining, Carlson has an excellent opportunity to showcase his talent to NFL scouts this season and next. Will he take advantage of that opportunity?
As previously mentioned, the Irish did sign the nation's top tight end prospect in Konrad Reuland in February. Reuland, a five-star prospect, has plenty of size at 6-6, 240 pounds, and is considered a solid blocker already…usually something that keeps young tight ends from seeing early action.
Reuland also has a golden opportunity to stake claim to the starting tight end spot this season, and definitely for the near future. Don't be surprised to see Reuland on the field often in 2006.
With Hiben's departure, it's quite likely the Irish will sign two tight ends in the 2007 class. The Irish have already identified one of their top tight ends by offering four-star prospect Mike Ragone. Ragone seems very interested in Notre Dame and plans to attend the spring game after already attending Notre Dame's first junior day in January.
Rob Gronkowski and Jake Goray are two tight ends that have already visited Notre Dame unofficially this winter. Muncie, Ind. native Ryan Kerrigan is another name to watch out for. We expect a few more names to surface in the near future at tight end, and we expect the Irish to sign two tight ends in the 2007 recruiting class.