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No. 12 Notre Dame loses tight end Mitchell Evans, its top receiver, to season-ending knee injury

Notre Dame tight end Mitchell Evans (88) collides with Pittsburgh defensive back Marquis Williams (14) as he leaps in the air during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 28, 2023, in South Bend, Ind. (AP Photo/Michael Caterina) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Notre Dame tight end Mitchell Evans will miss the rest of this season after suffering an ACL tear, coach Marcus Freeman announced Monday.

“He will have surgery in the next week or so, depending on when the doctors decide to do it," Freeman said.

Evans, a junior, led the 12th-ranked Fighting Irish with 29 receptions and 422 yards but was injured in the third quarter of Saturday's 58-7 rout over rival Pittsburgh. He took over as the starter this season after record-breaking tight end Michael Mayer was selected in April’s NFL draft.

Notre Dame will look to Holden Staes or Eli Raridon to fill the void left by Evans' knee injury. Staes has 12 receptions for 163 yards and leads the team with four touchdown catches. Raridon recently returned from his own knee injury.

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”(Eli) will be asked to do more along with Holden Staes and Cooper Flanagan and those guys," Freeman said. "You don’t make up for the production Mitch gave our offense with one guy. I think every person in that tight end room will be asked to do more. I’m confident they’ll be able to.”

Notre Dame (7-2) visits unranked Clemson (4-4) on Saturday as it tries to play itself back into playoff contention. There has never been a two-loss team in the playoff bracket.

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AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-football