And had I a college football internet audience for IrishEyes in 2006, John Carlson would have done the same…as would have Mark Bavaro in my grade school days, Derek Brown in my high school days, Irv Smith and Pete Chryplewicz in my college days, and likely Jabari Holloway in my "Davie must go!" days…
All-American level tight ends, first and second-round NFL Draft picks, and college stalwarts each: but none of them finished a season with more than four touchdowns for the Irish offense.
Not since program legend and three-time All-America Ken McAfee scored six touchdowns in the national championship season of 1977 has an Irish tight end finished a season with more than a quartet scores.
Not until 2011, that, is, when future All-America Tyler Eifert finally gets the monkey off my – I mean, the position's – back.
Molnar's, not mine…The preceding All-America claim isn't merely a mid-summer rambling from an Irish alum. Those are Charley Molnar's words, Notre Dame's offensive coordinator who knows a few things about the Irish offense and the passing game in general.
"It's really exciting watching Eifert right now," Molnar said following the team's opening practice of the spring. "He looks like an All-American-in-the-making, he really does. He plays with great confidence, he plays with great speed, and he has great ball skills. He's just such a confident player out there. He loves to play and always has a smile on his face. We love the guy."
Similar praise was offered by head coach Brian Kelly – before Eifert had participated in a college snap.
"Oh yeah. He's a very good player," Kelly said of Eifert last August, then a redshirt-freshman. "Again, I've had some good players at other schools at that position, but he's has good as I've coached."
I'm sold. And thus getting back on the horse for this 2011 prediction…
Prediction #11 – Tyler Eifert will score 5 (or more) touchdownsNotre Dame's starting tight end position, at least in tandem, showcased All-America level football in 2010.
- Starer (Games 1-6): Kyle Rudolph – 28 receptions, 327 yards, 3 TD
- Starter (Games 7-13): Tyler Eifert – 26 receptions, 335 yards, 2 TD
- Combined starting effort: 54 receptions, 662 yards, 5 TD
Logic would dictate Eifert could approach those numbers over a 13-games slate. Then again, only the aforementioned college football Hall of Famer MacAfee has done so in Irish lore.
Can Eifert become the first Irish tight end to score five touchdowns since MacAfee in '77? He has a decent chance with three seasons of eligibility remaining, but the prediction is for the 2011 season only, one in which the junior will be a focal point of the red zone passing game.
"We're doing some one-on-one stuff in the red zone with him where he can get matched up," said Kelly of the team's spring preparations with Eifert that included work with the wide receiver unit. "We're doing some drills where he has to go high-point to get the ball that he wouldn't do with (tight ends coach) Mike Denbrock. Just giving him versatility of that position."
That versatility is key to the success of Prediction #11...and Eifert touchdown #5 this fall.