NCAA Football: California at Notre Dame

Notre Dame's Michael Mayer has declared for the 2023 NFL Draft and will not play in the Gator Bow vs. South Carolina, the star tight end announced Wednesday. Mayer led Notre in receiving during a standout junior season while earning first-team All-America honors from CBS Sports. He is ranked as the top tight end in CBS Sports' 2023 NFL Draft Prospect Rankings and is regarded as a likely first-round pick.

"It has been an honor to wear the gold helmet and share a locker room with my brothers the last three years," said Mayer. "I want to say thank you to all of my coaches, staff and of course my teammates for making my Notre Dame experience unforgettable. I will always be grateful to be Irish!"

Mayer caught 67 passes for 809 yards and nine touchdowns — all team highs — this season and was similarly productive as a sophomore in 2021. The former five-star prospect lived up to the recruiting hype immediately with 42 catches in 2020 and gave opposing defenses fits in all three seasons.

In Notre Dame's regular-season finale at USC on Nov. 26, Mayer passed program legend Jeff Samardzija for third all-time on the program's receptions list with 180. His nine touchdown catches this season marked a new single-season record for a Notre Dame tight end, surpassing the previous mark that he set in 2021.

Mayer's Draft Stock

Mayer landed at No. 18 overall as a selection of the Los Angeles Chargers in a mock draft from CBS Sports NFL Draft writer Ryan Wilson this week.

"Mayer is more Gronk than Kelce, but that's not a bad thing," Wilson wrote. "And in Los Angeles, he'll get plenty of opportunities with Justin Herbert, Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and Josh Palmer."

Draft writers Chris Trapasso and Josh Edwards also mocked Mayer as a first-round pick this week with Edwards noting that Mayer could be a good third option in the passing game for Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow.

Impact on Notre Dame

Mayer's departure from Notre Dame should have been expected but that doesn't make it less significant. He's been the anchor of the team's passing game for the past two seasons, and there is no other tight end on the roster who has factored into the passing game in a prominent way this season.

Four-star tight end Holden Staes caught one pass for 11 yards as a true freshman, while another four-star freshman, Eli Raridon, redshirted. Incoming is four-star tight end Cooper Flanagan, who is part of the Fighting Irish's No. 3 ranked recruiting class.

Mayer is on track to join a growing list of Notre Dame tight ends who have gone on to be drafted high following their college careers, including Cole Kmet (Round 2, 2020), Tyler Eifert (Round 1, 2013) and Kyle Rudolph (Round 2, 2011).