Receivers and Tight EndsRedshirt-freshman DaVaris Daniels continues to push for a starting role and will debut in 2012 after being withheld from action last year. Incoming freshmen include perimeter wide receivers Justin Ferguson and Chris Brown as well as slot target Davonte' Neal.
TE Tyler Eifert: A handful of 2011 outings could be considered but the All-America's tour de force remains an 8-catch, 75-yard effort in a comeback win at Pittsburgh last September. With the Irish standing at 1-2 and facing a five-point deficit, Eifert teamed up with quarterback Tommy Rees to snare four passes for 34 yards and what proved to be the game-winning touchdown on a mid-fourth quarter drive to victory. Eifert added a two-point conversion (not included in official statistics) to provide the Irish a more comfortable three-point margin and the 15-12 final.
WR T.J. Jones: Few Irish players showed up in Notre Dame's 35-17 defeat vs. Navy, the low-point of Brian Kelly's tenure. Jones, however, came to play, earning the starting slot receiver role on an offense playing without Michael Floyd, Kyle Rudolph, and Theo Riddick, Jones caught a then career-best five passes for 53 yards and a tough-as-nails 16-yard touchdown on a short post, the score bringing the Irish to within four, 14-10 late in the second quarter. They'd draw no closer as Navy ran away over the final 35 minutes -- Jones performed admirably in defeat.
Slot Robby Toma: Toma posted career highs of seven receptions and 73 yards in a 45-21 over Maryland last November, but the Terrapins were hardly a worthy foe. Now a senior, Toma's most inspired effort to date likely occurred in a game most Irish fans would care to forget:
Subbing for injured Theo Riddick, Toma snared four passes for 64 yards in the infamous 2010 Irish loss to Tulsa. Each of Toma's grabs included yards after the catch, a whopping 41 of his 64 yards after breaking the first attempted tackle.
WR John Goodman: The 5th-year senior's career-best reception total occurred vs. Stanford in 2010, but three of his five catches and 46 of his 59 yards occurred long after the game had been decided. Goodman's shining moment in an Irish uniform remains his Alamo Dome post-pattern, 64-yard sprint-and-score on a strike from classmate Dayne Crist in an October 2009 victory over Washington State.
WR Daniel Smith: Has yet to record his first collegiate catch by Smith has helped set up a key Irish touchdown nonetheless. Leading 14-3 vs. favored Utah in South Bend, Smith dove on a Utes kick return fumble caused by his classmate -- and at the time, fellow receiver -- Austin Collinsworth. The recovery gave Notre Dame possession at the Utes 26-yard line to begin the second half and the Irish capitalized on the ensuing play: a 26-yard corner route score from Tommy Rees to Duval Kamara. Leading 21-3, the Irish never looked back, rolling to a 28-3 final.
TE Alex Welch: The best is yet to come for the redshirt sophomore (junior in class), but Welch's greatest contribution last season wasn't as a pass catcher, rather, it was his role in a game-sealing quarterback sneak by Tommy Rees in Pittsburgh. Welch was bookend of a dominant surge by the line's left side, pairing with left tackle Zack Martin, left guard Chris Watt, and center Braxston Cave to cave in the Panthers front, providing Rees room to effectively end the contest.
TE Ben Koyack: A true freshman last fall, Koyack's best game came against his home state Pittsburgh Panthers, recording his first career catch (in the opening half) and being part of a jumbo package on the offensive line that provided four Irish first downs on four short-yardage rushing plays, including two fourth down conversions.
TE Troy Niklas: Made his first career start vs. Michigan State, recording three tackles in a 31-13 Irish victory last September, but Niklas' best effort in his true freshman season came on Senior Day in a 16-14 win over Boston College.
Used in a pass-rushing role from a stand-up, interior lineman position, Niklas finished with four assisted tackles including one for loss and a pair of quarterback hurries. Said Kelly of the performance: "We just told Troy, ‘listen just go in there and thrash around, play with a lot of energy.' He certainly did. He played some key plays for us. He got better as he got more reps and as you can see he can impact a football game as a true freshman."
Niklas will make his debut at tight end this fall.
TE Jake Golic: Did not appear from scrimmage last season after suffering a broken arm in August camp. Golic was withheld from action as a true freshman as well but earned time in three 2010 outings, seeing the field vs. Purdue, Boston College (as part of the traveling squad), and Western Michigan. Golic's best block likely occurred vs. Western Michigan when he sprung senior Robert Hughes for a 30-yard burst near the end of the contest.
On Tap: The best single-game efforts from Notre Dame's offensive and defensive linemen.