Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert has been linked to the Pitttsburgh Steelers in several mock drafts this offseason as a possible first round selection. While it doesnt appaear that Eifert has made a pre draft visit to Pittsburgh, we will still pass on the draft profile that our scout buddy Dave-Te Thomas sent to us on him.
University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Fort Wayne, Indiana
Bishop Dwenger High School
The tight end position has undergone quite a few changes since first being incorporated into the offensive game plan by the New York Giants with Joe Walton in the 1950s. It became a featured position with the emergence of Mike Ditka during his playing days with Chicago in the 1960s and John Mackey with the old Baltimore Colts. Thanks to the ingenious game planning by the New England Patriots, seeing multiple players at this position on the field at the same time has now become the “norm” throughout the league.
Ever since the National Football League merged with the old American Football League in 1968, Notre Dame has become a “tight end factory” for professional teams. Since the two leagues combined, there have been twenty-three Notre Dame tight ends to play in the league. The university has seen eighteen players at that position be drafted over the years, and just one Tom Fine (16th round choice by Buffalo in 1975) fail to appear in an NFL game.
For Notre Dame, the long list of standouts to make an impact in the NFL at this position began with Dave Casper, a second round choice by the Oakland Raiders in 1974, who made regular visits to the Pro Bowl during his eleven-year career. He was later followed by Ken MacAfee, who was taken in the first round by San Francisco in 1978. The most recognized of all the Notre Dame tight ends came to the league when Bill Parcells wisely chose Mark Bavaro in the fourth round of the 1985 draft.
Over the years, other Notre Dame tight ends to be selected in the early stages of the draft were Derek Brown (first round in 1992 by the Giants), John Carlson (second round by Seattle in 2008), Anthony Fasano (second round by Dallas in 2006), Tony Hunter (first round by Buffalo in 1983), Kyle Rudolph (second round by Minnesota in 2011) and Irv Smith (first round by New Orleans in 1993).
Monty Stickles preceded all of them when he was chosen by San Francisco in the first round of the 1960 draft, but was converted to that position after playing as a flanker for the Irish. Now, Notre Dame is about to see another of their tight ends possibly be the first to be selected at his position in 2013 – Tyler Eifert, the 2012 Mackey Award recipient, an honor bestowed annually on the best tight end in college football.
The son of former Purdue basketball player Greg Eifert, Tyler was a little known prep player who was lightly recruited by major colleges before he accepted an offer to attend Notre Dame. The only other schools to show any serious interest in the Fort Wayne, Indiana product was Cincinnati, Indiana, Minnesota, Northwestern, Purdue and Vanderbilt. But none of those carried the clout of a Notre Dame offer, the dream school of almost every player that moves through the Catholic environment at Bishop Dwenger High School.
Eifert would go on to establish the school career-record for tight ends and rank sixth on the overall all-time chart with 140 receptions, despite playing only three seasons for the Irish. His eleven touchdown grabs are second best by a Notre Dame tight end and tied for twelfth in school history. He would close out his career by hauling in fifty passes (third best in a season by an Irish tight end) to help the team capture a berth in the national championship game vs. Alabama.
Eifert attended Bishop Dwenger High School in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where he joined the football team as a skinny defensive back and wide receiver, barely reaching six-feet tall.
He would grow in “leaps and bounds,” both physically and as a player before he left the school to join the Fighting Irish four years later as a 6:06 incoming freshman.
“When Tyler first came to high school, he was like 5-foot-10, and I was looking down on him. I never thought he would be a late bloomer like he was,” said Irish fifth-year senior John Goodman, a high school teammate of Eifert\’s back in Fort Wayne. “When I got to my senior year (in high school) and Tyler was a junior, I could tell he was a breakout player. He can play the game like nobody else.”
Bishop Dwenger head coach Chris Svarczkopf agrees. Eifert\’s high school teams were loaded with Division I college talent – especially within the receiving units – and Eifert just kind of blended in until late in his sophomore year as a split end. “He was actually overshadowed somewhat,” Svarczkopf said. “We hit him with a touchdown pass in a regional game and I just remember saying, “whoa!\’ Because that was the first time I can remember Tyler becoming somebody that all of us really started to think very highly of.”
Eifert shot up more than six inches in high school to about his current height and gained enough weight and notice to secure his share of scholarship offers – Indiana, Purdue, Northwestern, Minnesota, Vanderbilt, to name a few. But none of those carried the clout of a Notre Dame offer, the dream school of almost every player that moves through the Catholic environment at Bishop Dwenger.
At Bishop Dwenger High, Eifert was a seldom used split end as a freshman, but he returned the next season standing 6:02 and weighing 176 pounds, earning playing time as a split end for a Saints team that compiled a 12-2 record in 2006. As a junior, Eifert tipped the scales over 200 pounds and had grown to 6:04. He lined up at split end, tight end and safety, going on to record 33 receptions for 586 yards and four touchdowns, as the All-State honorable mention also recorded 40 tackles with three interceptions.
In 2008, Eifert received Indiana Class 4A first-team All-State honors from the Associated Press as a safety. He was also named to the Indiana Football Coaches Association Top 50 All-State team as tight end and placed on the All-Northeast Indiana first-team by the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette.
The senior added duties as a split end, punter and saw brief action with the return units that year. He finished with 41 receptions for 682 yards (16.63 ypc) and ten touchdowns for a team that compiled a 14-1 record to finish sixth in the state’s final poll. On defense, he registered 97 tackles and picked off four passes for 92 yards in returns, including one touchdown. He averaged 33.5 yards as a punter and raced 76 yards with a kickoff return for a score.
That performance saw Eifert be rated the 10th-best prospect in the state of Indiana by Rivals.com, ranked the nation’s 12th-best tight end by ESPN and the 24th-best tight end, according to both Rivals.com and Scout.com. Super Prep named him 51st-best overall player in the Midwest.
During his senior prep campaign, incoming Purdue head coach Danny Hope brought the full-court press to Fort Wayne to try and lure Eifert to his Boilermakers. Tyler\’s father, Greg, earned his degree and was a standout basketball player at Purdue, so Hope thought the legacy card might pull Tyler in.
“I thought, and I think the world thought, that Purdue was what Tyler was going to do because of his affiliation with the school,” Svarczkopf said. “I don\’t know if he was waiting to see if Notre Dame was going to offer, but Coach Hope wanted an answer right then, and Tyler couldn\’t give him one. He didn\’t jump on the Purdue offer, for sure. He did jump on the Notre Dame offer.”
Ending up at Notre Dame happened almost by chance for Eifert. Kyle Rudolph had already locked down the starting tight end duties for the Irish after a 2008 Freshman All-American season. The ND coaches had evaluated Eifert on videotape, but showed little interest in his services or offering a scholarship. Svarczkopf became familiar with the Notre Dame coaching staff and urged former Irish assistant coach Corwin Brown to take one more look at Eifert, but maybe as something other than a tight end.
Persistence paid off and in June of 2008 – after a second round of videotape evaluation – Eifert was invited to a one-day football camp at Notre Dame. He arrived on campus essentially anonymous. He left campus as the talk of the Irish coaching staff, most notably head coach Charlie Weis, who offered a scholarship shortly after Eifert\’s visit, but as an athlete and not as a tight end.
“I looked at the trip as a chance to draw some attention and hopefully get an offer,” Eifert said. “Once I did, the decision on where I was going to school was easy after that.” Weis had his player, but there was another coaching staff in Ohio that had also recognized the raw potential of one Tyler Eifert. Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly and former Irish offensive coordinator Charley Molnar were trying to bolster their 2009 recruiting class while working together at Cincinnati, and they wanted Eifert to be part of the plan.
The two coaches were on Eifert\’s recruitment and offered a scholarship in part because their staff looked past what Eifert was in high school, and more to what he could become in college. “We only saw him on film (at Cincinnati),” said Molnar, who ended up coaching his Cincinnati recruit at Notre Dame in 2010-11, before leaving to become head coach at the University of Massachusetts. “But one of our coaches saw (Eifert) at a camp and said, `No, this guy can grow into a tight end.\’ ”
It turned out to be a prophetic projection, but not until one man\’s misery became another\’s opportunity. Rudolph had emerged as a star at Notre Dame and established himself as arguably the top tight end in the country. But in one lineup changing moment, Rudolph\’s college career came to an abrupt end when his hamstring muscles ripped off the bone during the sixth game of the 2010 season vs. Pittsburgh.
Enter Eifert, the next man in, who had just one catch in the first six games in 2010 – his only career reception – but managed 26 catches, 335 yards and two touchdowns filling in for Rudolph as the starter in the last seven games that season. In his first career start vs. Western Michigan, one week after Rudolph\’s injury, Eifert recorded four catches for 72 yards with a 39-yard touchdown.
“That\’s when I felt like I belonged. It was the first game I started after not getting much collegiate action,” Eifert said of his breakout game. “Now, everything has exceeded my expectations. You get here as a freshman, you\’re kind of trying to get the hang of things, maybe those aren\’t the best of times. Then you finally find your niche and it\’s been great after that.” The redshirt freshman would go on to earn the team’s Offensive Newcomer of the Year Award.
Eifert’s 2010 performance earned him a spot on the John Mackey Award Watch List entering the 2011 campaign. He would become a finalist for the most prestigious award a tight end could earn, as his 63 receptions for 803 yards (12.75 ypc) and five touchdowns not only led the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision tight ends, but established a school season-record for his position and placed ninth on the Irish overall chart. He was also named a first-team All-American by the Walter Camp Football Foundation.
From a 176-pound high school freshman to a 250-pound college junior in 2012, Eifert was firmly established as one of the elite players at his position in the NCAA. He was an All-American selection in what would be his final campaign, as his 50 receptions for 685 yards (13.70 ypc) led the team and was the third-best season performance by a Notre Dame tight end.
Shortly after Notre Dame’s 42-14 loss to Alabama in the 2013 BCS National Championship Game, Eifert decided to forego his final season of eligibility and declared his intentions to enter the 2013 NFL Draft. “It was tough,” Eifert said. “Taking off that Notre Dame jersey and helmet for the last time was emotional. It’s going to be tough to leave.”
The move was anticipated. Eifert, generally considered among the top, if not the top, tight end in this year’s class, also completed courses towards his degree in Finance. Based on his “body of work” at Notre Dame and his excellent performance at the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, that degree might just come in handy as some NFL team is certain his decision to join the professional ranks a financial benefit for the Irish standout.
Eifert said, trying to keep a straight face. “I\’m just going to enjoy the moment and enjoy the opportunities that are in front of me.” And oh my, there are many.
Eifert started 34-of-38 games for Notre Dame, as he caught 140 passes for 1,840 yards (13.14 ypc) and eleven touchdowns…Scored 68 points and recorded three solo tackles…
His 140 catches established a new school record for tight ends, breaking the previous mark of 128 grabs by Ken MacAfee (1974-77). The only other Irish tight end to reach the “century mark” was John Carlson (100, from 2004-07)…His 140 receptions are also fourth-best on the school overall career-record list, topped by Michael Floyd (271; 2008-11), Jeff Samardzija (179; 2003-06), Rhema McKnight (170; 2002-06), Golden Tate (157; 2007-09) and
Tom Gatewood (157; 1969-71)…His eleven touchdown catches rank second on the school record chart for tight ends, placing behind Ken MacAfee’s fifteen scoring grabs, as Eifert’s total also rank twelfth on the Notre Dame overall all-time record…29 of his 140 receptions have gone for at least 20 yards.
Eifert was the recipient of the Mackey Award, given to the best tight end in college foot-ball…Added All-American first-team honors from The NFL Draft Report, Phil Steele and Pro Football Weekly, as he also received second-team accolades from the Associated Press, Walter Camp, Sporting News, Sports Illustrated and CBSSports.com…Selected Notre Dame’s Offensive Player of the Year, he garnered weekly national recognition from College Football Performance Awards for his performances vs. Purdue, Stanford, Brigham Young, Boston College and Wake Forest…Had 84 passes targeted to him, catching 59.52% of those tosses (50) for 685 yards (13.70 ypc), as his fifty receptions rank third on the school season-record list for tight ends, topped by Eifert’s 2011 total of 63 grabs and Ken MacAfee (54 in 1977)…36 of his catches produced first downs and in addition to coming up with four scoring snatches, he had receptions that set up six other Irish touchdown drives and on five other possessions that led to field goals…Converted ten third-down catches into first downs, and had 30 receptions gain at least ten yards, including twelve for twenty yards or longer…Opened the season vs. Navy with four receptions for 22 yards and one touchdown, and set a career-high for receiving yards vs. Purdue with 98 yards on four catches…In his next home game vs. Michigan, Eifert had just one catch for 38 yards, but it came late in the fourth quarter and secured the victory…Added four catches for 57 receiving yards and 24-yard touchdown vs. Stanford and hauled in four balls for 73 yards, including a score vs. Brigham Young…Eifert was nearly impossible to stop vs. Pittsburgh (42 yards with four first downs), Boston College (67 yards, as five catches produced first The team captain closed out his career with another six receptions, good for 61 yards and three first downs, including one that set up an Irish touchdown drive late in the BCS Championship Game vs. Alabama.
Eifert started all thirteen games, earning All-American first-team honors from The NFL Draft Report and the Walter Camp Football Foundation, adding second-team accolades from the Associated Press and third-team from Rivals.com and Phil Steele, while Sports Illustrated accorded the Mackey Award finalist with an honorable mention…Earned weekly national recognition from College Football Performance Awards for his performances in the South Florida, Pittsburgh, Air Force, Southern California, Wake Forest and Maryland contests…Established himself as one of the top tight ends in the country, leading the NCAA FBS tight ends and setting a school season position record after hauling in 63 passes for 803 yards (12.75 ypc) and five touchdowns, breaking the previous Irish mark of 54 catches by Ken MacAfee in 1977…His 63 receptions also placed ninth on the school’s overall season-record list…Had a catch in every game, and had at least two receptions in all but one…Tied his career-high with eight catches in three games, as his eight receptions in a contest tied him with Kyle Rudolph (twice in 2010), John Carlson (2006), Anthony Fasano (2004) and Ken MacAfee (1977) for second most ever in a game by a Notre Dame tight end…Opened the season with six receptions for 93 yards, including a 37-yard grab vs. South Florida…Named FBS Independent Offensive Player of the Week and the College Football Performance Awards National Tight End of the Week after tying his career high with eight receptions, including four catches on the 11-play, 85-yard, go-ahead touchdown drive in the fourth quarter at Pittsburgh, finishing the day with 75 yards, as he also added the two-point conversion reception that helped secure the 15-12 win…Pulled down eight balls for 81 yards and a touchdown vs. Air Force…Also notched eight catches, this time for 83 yards and a score vs. Maryland…Hauled in six balls for 90 yards in the Champs Sports Bowl vs. Florida State.
Eifert started eight of the eleven games he appeared in for the Irish during his second season with the program (did not see action vs. Boston College or Pittsburgh), as he was named Notre Dame Offensive Newcomer of the Year…Registered six receptions of 20 yards or more, as sixteen of his 27 catches resulted in a touchdown or first down, including converting seven of nine receptions on third down plays for a first down or a score, as he gained 352 yards (13.04 ypc) and two touchdowns…Eifert played somewhat sparingly in each of the first four games (totaled one reception for 17 yards vs. Michigan) behind starting tight end Kyle Rudolph…Was forced into the starting lineup following Rudolph\’s season-ending injury and he made a major impact for the Irish…Started for the first time in his career vs. Stanford and scored his first career touchdown on a 39-yard reception vs. Western Michigan…Recorded four receptions for 42 yards vs. Navy and hauled in five catches for 61 yards in the matchup with Tulsa…His top game came in the defeat of Army, as he pulled in four catches for a season-best 78 yards and a 31-yard touchdown, as he also had a 35-yard grab to set up another TD…Credited with a 22-yard reception to set up a first-&-goal situation late in the second quarter which led to an Irish touchdown at Southern California…Finished the season with six receptions for 20 yards or longer, all during the course of his last seven games and totaled 434 snaps on offense, the most of any Irish tight end.
Eifert saw limited action during his first campaign with Irish, playing in season opener vs. Nevada, but did not record a catch in that contest…Was then granted a medicval hardship due to a back injury.
2009 Season…Eifert played in the season opener vs. Nevada before missing the rest of the schedule to undergo back surgery. At the time of the announcement that he would not play the rest of the year, then head coach Charlie Weis stated, “Tyler is in a unique situation. He has a back issue, and we\’ve been nursing this for a few weeks. He needs to have a procedure done.” Ferocious and persistent pain in his back forced the Irish tight end to shut down his rookie year in 2009, almost immediately after some token playing time vs. Nevada. The pain had become unbearable, and the proper remedy for recovery debatable. Something had to be done, but the potential risks surgery might have on Eifert\’s football career created a cautious environment within the team of Notre Dame coaches and doctors. “We were trying to avoid surgery,” Eifert recalled. “We tried rest, therapy, rehab, core strength and everything like that.”
Nothing helped, and surgery was finally scheduled about halfway through the 2009 season. The doctors assured Eifert the procedure would not derail his college football career. But obviously a serious operation that required a broken piece of disc to be removed from his spinal cord left no guarantees for a full recovery. “My back just kept bothering me so the doctors just figured it was time to do something,” said Eifert, who never lost any confidence that he would be healthy and ready for his sophomore season in 2010. “The doctors were very helpful and knowledgeable. They assured me I would make a full recovery.”
4.68 in the 40-yard dash…1.53 10-yard dash…2.57 20-yard dash…4.32 20-yard shuttle…
11.52 60-yard shuttle…6.92 three-cone drill…35 ½-inch vertical jump…9’11” broad jump… Bench pressed 225 pounds 22 times…33 1/8-inch arm length…9 1/8-inch hands…76 7/8-inch wingspan.
Eifert attended Bishop Dwenger High School in Fort Wayne, Indiana, playing football for Saints head coach Chris Svarczkoph…Was a seldom used split end as a freshman, but he returned the next season standing 6:02 and weighing 176 pounds, earning playing time as a split end for a Saints team that compiled a 12-2 record in 2006…As a junior, Eifert lined up at split end, tight end and safety, going on to record 33 receptions for 586 yards and four touchdowns, as the All-State honorable mention also recorded 40 tackles with three interceptions…In 2008, Eifert received Indiana Class 4A first-team All-State honors from the Associated Press as a safety…Named to the Indiana Football Coaches Association Top 50 All-State team as tight end and placed on the All-Northeast Indiana first-team by the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette…The senior added duties as a split end, punter and saw brief action with the return units that year…Finished with 41 receptions for 682 yards (16.63 ypc) and ten touchdowns for a team that compiled a 14-1 record to finish sixth in the state’s final poll…On defense, he registered 97 tackles and picked off four passes for 92 yards in returns, including one touchdown…Averaged 33.5 yards as a punter and raced 76 yards with a kickoff return for a score…That performance saw Eifert be rated the 10th-best prospect in the state of Indiana by Rivals.com, ranked the nation’s 12th-best tight end by ESPN and the 24th-best tight end, according to both Rivals.com and Scout.com…Super Prep named him 51st-best overall player in the Midwest…Also lettered in basketball, playing for coach Matt Kostoff, helping the Saints compile a 17-5 record in 2007 and an 18-5 mark in 2008.
Finance major, earning his degree from the Mendoza College of Business, where his courses emphasized in management-consulting…Son of Julie and Greg Eifert…Father is a 1984 Purdue graduate who played in 115 basketball games (3.1 career scoring average) under coach Gene Keady…Born 9/08/90 in Fort Wayne, Indiana.