Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 10, 2018

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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18 SEPT. 10, 2018 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED Kelly said, pointing out that Weis- har juggles football with his difficult classwork and endless hours of com- munity service. "Without wearing a 'C,' I think everyone sees him as a captain. "Each team has guys that are im- portant to them from an emotional, heartbeat sense. They mean more to them as a person than maybe just a football player." Weishar's teammates agree. "He's like a big brother to me," senior tight end Alizé Mack said. "He does everything the right way, he's very inspiring and it's great having him in that room and having that presence of maturity. "He loves his guys, and we love him." And for Weishar, he said the deci- sion to return for a fifth season when offered was an easy one, despite the fact he could've taken the graduate transfer route and probably enjoyed more production and playing time elsewhere this season. "I didn't want to leave the guys," said Weishar, the graybeard of his position group who has earned the nickname "Dad Body" from his younger teammates. "We have unbe- lievable people here." Now, make no mistake, Weishar is much more than a cheerleader and mentor on this team. He may not have gaudy numbers that jump off the stat sheet, but at 6-5 and 246 pounds with soft hands and football smarts, Weishar is still very much considering a run at an NFL career after this season, and why not? Just last year, Durham Smythe — another overshadowed fifth-year Irish tight end — completed his ca- reer with 15 receptions on the season and only 28 for his career, but was still selected by the Miami Dolphins in the fourth round of the NFL Draft and signed his rookie contract in June. "Being a Notre Dame tight end is a big deal," said Weishar, pointing out that the Irish offensive coaches aren't hesitant to play two- and even three- tight-end sets, and that he's consid- ered "a big asset" and "a big play- maker" within the offensive scheme. And when asked what to expect in the passing game this season, Coach Kelly indicated there will be plenty of footballs to go around. "We play three and four tight ends so I think you would have to include that as part of what we do," Kelly said. "I wouldn't just look as it just being a wide receiver group as much as incorporating tight ends and run- ning backs into being pass receivers and touching the football." A four-star recruit from the class of 2014, Weishar still holds the Illi- nois state record with 237 career re- ceptions, and he's eighth all time in the state with 3,050 receiving yards. He was a U.S. Army, MaxPreps and Parade All-American, and chose Notre Dame over Northwestern, Michigan, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Wisconsin, among others. He was named to the Wuerffel Tro- phy watch list before each of the last two seasons, an award given annu- ally to the college player that best combines exemplary community service with athletic and academic achievement. "He's so respected and revered by our team," Kelly explained. "It's much more of a love for Nic in what he represents, and that kind of over- shadows anything that he does on the football field." ✦ Weishar (far right) and his family — from left to right, mother Jean, brothers Danny and Andrew, and father Don — have helped raise more than $650,000 for cancer victims and their families since the launch of WeishFest, an annual music festival, in 2013. PHOTO COURTESY NIC WEISHAR "As a leader, he's exemplary. Without wearing a 'C,' I think everyone sees him as a captain. Each team has guys that are important to them from an emo- tional, heartbeat sense. They mean more to them as a person than maybe just a football player." HEAD COACH BRIAN KELLY

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