Perhaps the only way 2020 would have been more abnormal is if Notre Dame did not have a dominant tight end. In the last 15 years, the Irish have sent eight tight ends into the NFL draft, including six taken in the first or second rounds. After Cole Kmet jumped into the 2020 NFL draft after a stellar junior season, the question was not if someone would step into his place, but who.
In hindsight, it is too simple to say the Irish knew what Michael Mayer would do as a freshman. Assuming reliable and prolific production from a freshman is always a risk when building up to a season. But Notre Dame was far from worried about the position, even if Mayer was more a likelihood than a certainty.