CHARLOTTE – Tommy Tremble says he can walk onto the field at Bank of America Stadium and point to where his nosebleed seats were for a 2014 matchup between the Panthers and Seahawks, his first NFL game.
Tremble admitted he was a Seattle fan at the time, but he couldn't help but be overtaken by the excitement of catching a glimpse of the Panthers' stars.
"I thought it was the coolest thing ever, seeing Cam Newton, Luke Kuechly, guys like that," Tremble said. "To be on the same team as (they were) in the future, it's crazy to me."
That came full circle during last year's draft, when the Notre Dame tight end was chosen in the third round. The son of former NFL safety Greg Tremble, who played 11 games across three seasons in the mid-1990s, Tommy Tremble said his father had given him tips on how to set himself up for success in the sport. Even still, Tremble was filled with gratitude once his professional football goal was realized.
"I never thought it would be possible," Tremble said. "I always thought it was a dream, and it's really a dream come true."
Tremble's rookie season included some flashes, but those were scattered during a year in which there was seldom a consistent pattern on offense.
But new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo could give Tremble a chance to break through in year two, as McAdoo has seen success using two tight ends, and could pair the athletic Tremble with a solid veteran blocker in Ian Thomas.
"I think McAdoo's offense brings a lot of versatility to us — something we may not have had as much last year," Tremble said. "It really just lets us play football, and for every situation, we've got a solution."
Lauded for his abilities as a willing blocker out of Notre Dame, Tremble has shown he can make plays downfield, including some deep balls down the sideline during OTAs.
As a rookie, Tremble had 20 receptions for 180 yards and a touchdown.
Tremble also added a rushing touchdown, which came in Week 3 against the Texans (breaking a record held by Rob Gronkowski, becoming the youngest tight end to ever rush for a touchdown).
Tremble's own demonstrated versatility has made him a viable option for the Panthers' offense, but his potential has yet to be fully realized in the pros.
Still, he flashed big play capabilities during his second OTAs, continuing to impress head coach Matt Rhule.
"The sky's the limit, I believe, for Tommy Tremble," Rhule said. "Tommy's a young guy. He's still an anxious guy, and as he gets more and more confident, I think we'll see him continue to evolve as a player."
Tremble is ready for that year two evolution as well, hoping to become a "more complete player" now that he has the rookie year adjustments under his belt.
"(I noticed) while playing those games, it's like any other game of football," Tremble said. "The intensity is a little bit higher; the knowledge of the game is higher, and (you're) playing against people who are really masters of their craft.
"That's what I want to try to achieve, at least this upcoming year, is to not only be comfortable, but try to excel in this situation."