Blue and Gold Illustrated

August 2020

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

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28 AUGUST 2020 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY PATRICK ENGEL T he last three seasons of Tommy Tremble's football career re- semble a stationary person's heart rate chart. Peak. Then back below the surface for a while. Peak again. Then down to a notable but not attention-grab- bing role. It's through no fault of his own, but rather due to chilling cir- cumstances and depth chart situations that prevented any extended outburst. A gruesome high school injury sent his first peak downward, not to emerge again for two years. The second was an expectedly short injury fill-in. After a two-game cameo in Cole Kmet's stead, Tremble retreated into a backup role that was noticeable if one looked for it, but still dwarfed by the eventual first tight end taken in April's draft. All Tremble — an Atlanta native who is now a junior tight end for the Irish — could do in each instance was be patient. Fortunately, it is one of his strengths. He attacked his rehab and recruiting process following a dislo- cated ankle suffered in August 2017. He willingly ceded the spotlight to Kmet, a good friend who actually hosted Tremble on his official visit. "He's always happy when he just gets a chance," said Tremble's mother, Abigail. "He's not a kid who's like, 'Throw me the ball!' He's genuinely pleased when his team- mates do well. He's just excited when he gets an opportunity." Now, a cleared path to an extended one is here. The 2020 season, in what- ever form it is played (if at all), is Tremble's opportunity to shine as Notre Dame's primary tight end. His highlights do not have to exist in snippets anymore. He is Kmet's clear successor after snagging 16 passes and four touchdowns as the second tight end in 2019. Oddly enough, he has the most receptions of any re- turning Notre Dame pass catcher. "There are expectations this year," Abigail said. "That will be what's new and different. It's not happen- stances and, 'Oh great, that hap- pened!' but having an expectation that's your job on the team." No one could blame Tremble for visions of being next in a long line of Irish tight ends to be drafted, espe- cially when he would be a third-gen- eration pro. His maternal grandfather, Rich Watts, signed a rookie free agent deal with the Atlanta Falcons. His fa- ther, Greg, won a Super Bowl with the Dallas Cowboys in 1995. Anyone who asked a young Tommy to name his favorite football player heard a resounding "Dad!" in response. Tremble, though, possesses the skill set to make his own name at the sport's highest level. At 6-3 and 235 pounds, he's a movable piece who can be an H-back, slot receiver or in-line player. He ran a 4.63 40- yard dash at The Opening's Atlanta Regional in 2017, the fastest tight end time at any regional that year (Kmet ran a 4.70 at the NFL Combine, for comparison). Few safeties and line- backers can run with him. He glides like a wind surfer. "He's an outstanding athlete," Irish head coach Brian Kelly said after his debut last year. "We knew that when we recruited him. He had crazy num- bers on all this testing when we re- cruited him and knew that it was just a matter of maturation. "As he has done that and become more comfortable with balancing both, he started to emerge as a foot- ball player." Tremble's junior season is not only about a breakout. Freshman jitters are past him. He has belief in his abil- ity, fostered by last year's crack into the rotation. The other task for an in- troverted, initially nervous 20-year- old is to continue allowing himself to embrace the stage on which he performs as his time on it increases. ON THE RISE Budding junior tight end Tommy Tremble is set to be Notre Dame's next star at the position Tremble had 16 catches for 183 yards in 2019, numbers that were similar to Cole Kmet's the season before his breakout campaign. PHOTO BY JAMES GILBERT

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