Tyler Eifert’s breakout performance last Saturday night in Yankee Stadium drew the attention of more than just Notre Dame fans. The sophomore tight end was named the John Mackey Tight End of the week after his 4 catch, 78 yard, 1 touchdown performance.
Efiert, thrust into a starting role when Kyle Rudolph was lost for the season, had started to establish himself a few weeks ago with at least four catches in four of the last five games. Saturday night in prime time, Eifert had his best performance, however, with a career high 78 yards and his second career touchdown. He came up just a yard shy of a second touchdown as well.
Kyle Rudolph was considered a favorite to win the yearly Mackey Award coming in to the season, but ended up only playing in just six games – a few of which he was severely limited in. His absence has allowed for Eifert to emerge as another in a long line of top notch tight ends for the Irish.
No knows if Rudolph will be back in 2011 or if he’ll leave early for the NFL. He was recently listed as one of the top 10 wide receiver/tight ends for the 2011 NFL Draft by Sports Illustrated. Eifert’s late season emergence, however, has made the potential loss of Rudolph much more sustainable than most felt it would be coming into the season.
With another game left this season and an extra 15 practices for the bowl game, look for Eifert to continue to assert himself. Should Rudolph return in 2011, Brian Kelly will be able to create some very favorable match-ups in two tight end sets.