Eifert earns national recognition

Notre Dame's lone under-the-radar star holds that moniker no longer, as junior tight end Tyler Eifert earned pre-season nomination for his position's top honor.

Notre Dame continued a two-day run of 2011 post-season award nominations today when junior tight end Tyler Eifert was named to the John Mackey Award's preseason watch list. Eifert is one of 34 players selected to the list, awarded annually to the nation's top tight end. His Irish predecessor, Kyle Rudolph, was nominated in both 2009 and 2010.

Eifert notched 352 receiving yards (third on the squad) on 27 receptions (fourth) last season, scoring two touchdowns and falling inches short on another: a diving grab inside the one-yard line vs. Army (pictured). He started eight contests, once in tandem with Rudolph (Stanford), and then the final seven following the latter's season-ending hamstring surgery.

26 of Eifert's receptions and 335 of his yards occurred following Rudolph's injury, the lone exception: the first grab of his career, one in which he absorbed a huge hit over the middle and maintained his balance to gain an additional 10 yards in a Week Two loss vs. Michigan.

Eifert, who sat out his freshman season of 2009 with a back injury, earned Notre Dame's Newcomer of the Year award for his efforts.

Former Irish tight end John Carlson was likewise named to the Mackey Watch List in 2006 and 2007, earning a spot among finalists in '06. Carlson's predecessor, Anthony Fasano, was a Mackey Watch List member and finalist in 2005.

Five forthcoming Irish opponents were also named to the list, including four seniors: Michigan's Kevin Koger, Michigan State's Brian Linthicum, USC's Rhett Ellison, and Stanford's Coby Fleener. Boston College junior Chris Pantale was also nominated for the season-end award to be presented at the Home Depot ESPN College Football Awards Show on December 8.

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