Final Impressions: Tight Ends

Our third set of camp impressions examines the team's tight end quintet as well as a look back at the best of the decade in South Bend.

Final Impressions: Wide Receivers

Final Impressions: Offensive Backfield

Tight Ends

The most important, least likely occurrence over the last calendar season for the Notre Dame offense is that the loss of junior tight end Kyle Rudolph barely made a ripple in the team's passing attack…Tyler Eifert's ascent to potential All-America status mitigates the fact that the Irish don't have a proven game-breaker outside of Michael Floyd

If Eifert is as clutch as was Rudolph in late-game situations, the Irish will be tough to kill in close matchups, because Floyd is a force in the two-minute drill…Its notable, at least until we see the on-field product, that the bulk of Eifert's big plays last year came from the passing arms of Tommy Rees, John Goodman, and Nate Montana, rather than 2011 starter Dayne Crist…The Irish are blessed with incredible depth and youthful talent at the position but I believe there'd be a major drop-off should Eifert miss time this season…

5th-year senior Mike Ragone's role is that of a blocking tight end in the team's power packages, but he needs to prove more than a flair-route threat in the passing game…Ragone's downfield, straight line speed has proved fruitless for the Irish over the last four seasons, and his full-field chase down of a potential two-point play vs. Washington State in 2009 is more admirable and telling of his character than relevant to 2011… Relevant, and likely overlooked, is that Ragone helped clear a path for running back Robert Hughes' game-winning score at the Coliseum last Thanksgiving weekend…Ragone joins seniors John Goodman and Jonas Gray as veteran's that need a good start and subsequent confidence boost in September: a quick seam to Ragone could work wonders for a player that's dropped three point-blank passes over the last 16 games…

The Alex Welch/Ben Koyack competition was likely too close to call, though it's a good sign for Koyack that head coach Brian Kelly offered his name among likely freshman contributors…The pressure is on Welch to prove more reliable than Koyack as either an in-line blocker in relief of Ragone or a vertical passing game option in relief of Eifert…Koyack would benefit from a redshirt season (as did Eifert in 2009), but I don't see it happening…If Notre Dame brings in a tight end next season, there's no way he should play (assuming good health for Eifert, Welch, and Koyack)…

The remaining eligibility of Eifert (3), Welch (4), and Koyack (4/5) must be a tough sell on the 2012 recruiting front…Kelly noted Koyack isn't the downfield weapon Eifert has proven to be; I think we'd all settle for another zone buster and red zone target for the first year player…Welch seemed to have a knack of finding a hole vs. zone coverage, if that translates to Saturdays, Eifert won't be overworked this fall….Jake Golic's broken arm is a major setback for his 2011 development; the junior (3 years remaining) needs to establish as special teams niche or become the unit's in-line blocker upon Ragone's departure following the season, because the trio ahead of him are top-notch targets…

The decade's (2000s) best at Tight End U

A few categories are required:

Best pure pass receiver:

  1. John Carlson – Tough call over Rudolph and you could easily argue for the latter
  2. Kyle Rudolph - Odd stat: Never scored after Week Five in three seasons.
  3. Anthony Fasano/Tyler Eifert – might be anointing the kid too early, but its better to get in on the ground floor than hop on the bandwagon later…
  4. Jabari Holloway (2000)
  5. Dan O'Leary (2000)

Best scrimmage blocker:

  1. John Owens (2001) Made an NFL career out of the craft
  2. Holloway – Ditto (with receivers' skills to boot)
  3. Fasano – Was excellent as a senior
  4. Ragone – Has always been willing; when he's able he's tough as nails
  5. O'Leary – The most underrated player of the bunch

Best in the clutch:

  1. Rudolph – Caught one game-winner and had two more erased because of a leaky Irish defense (Washington 2009; Michigan 2010)
  2. Carlson – Down the seam vs. Michigan State being the most memorable single moment
  3. Holloway – Would have thrived in modern offenses
  4. Eifert – Already the No. 2 go-to receiver entering just his second season as a competitor
  5. Fasano – Would be much higher if not for two costly fumbles. Fasano had sure hands in short zones. Top Stories