Troy Niklas Moving to Tight End?

Troy Niklas Moving to Tight End?
Rising sophomore Troy Niklas could be moving to the offensive side of the ball at tight end in 2012. (Photo - Robin Alam/Icon SMI)

Earlier this week some reports began to surface that rising sophomore Troy Niklas was working out with the tight ends during voluntary off-season training after spending his freshman season cracking the two deep at outside linebacker.  This could mean a number of things for the versatile athlete and the Irish in general.

We’ll start off by looking at what this could mean for Niklas.  On the surface the move is a little surprising because Niklas was able to crack the two deep as a freshman without the benefit of enrolling early and even started a game only to move to a position with a legit elite incumbent starter and two highly thought of back ups providing a lot of depth in 2012.

Niklas is extremely athletically gifted and Brian Kelly raved about his ability to make plays in space as an outside linebacker last year so it should be safe to assume that his athleticism should allow him to make plays on offense as well once he gets down route running and picks up the offense.

As for the other duty of a tight end – blocking – Niklas is a physical specimen and should be able to make an impact in that regard in relatively short order.   He will face a tough battle with Alex Welch and Ben Koyack for playing time though with both returning tight ends having much more experience at the position.  Welch did spend most of last season injured, however, making his own durability a question mark.

The big question here though is why would Kelly and his staff consider moving a rising sophomore who made an instant impact at an extremely importnat position to a position where the Irish, at least on paper, have pretty good depth?

Hopefully, what this means, is the defensive staff is very pleased with the young talent they have at the drop backer position already with the likes of Ishaq Williams and Ben Councell and incoming freshman Romeo Okwara along with the returning upperclassmen like Danny Spond to man the position.   Williams was a 5-star recruit, but even with the advantage of a full spring practice, Niklas leap frogged him last season.  A full year in a system and a adjusting to the speed of the college game – remember, Williams played against much weaker competition in high school than Niklas – could have Williams ready to tap into his immense talent though.

Schematically, this could mean that Notre Dame is going to be using more multiple tight end sets moving forward and wants to make sure that they have adequate depth at the position to do so.  Last season injuries to Welch and Mike Ragone rushed Koyack on the field before he was really ready to be a blocking tight end and without adding a tight end in this past recruiting class the Irish have just four scholarship tight ends heading into the season.

With an elite receiving tight end like Eiftert, seeing more multiple tight end sets would make a lot of sense since it would allow Eifert to create mismatches against linebackers with the Irish seemingly in running formations.  The New England Patriots created the blueprint for really exploiting the benefit of having multiple elite tight ends and Brian Kelly might be trying to replicate their success with a quarterback position that very likely could be ushering in a new, inexperience starter in 2012.

Of course, this could all mean nothing.  Remember, last season Kelly moved Lane Clelland to defensive end in the off-season only to move him back to offensive tackle in the spring.  It will be interesting to see where Niklas ends up though.  He certainly has the athleticism to play tight end and if we can pick up the nuances of the position, Notre Dame could find itself with yet another receiving threat at the position.

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  1. Kind of interesting. Just read where another USC Trojan Football player has left the team. That brings their team scholarship number down to 76.
    That is still one over the mandated 75 imposed by the NCAA. (85 is the norm)

    Here is a team (USC) that has had to deal with player losses from NCAA recruiting restrictions, graduation, suspension, injury, transfer, and will still have to cut one more before August to get to 75.
    With all that, I read their fan reaction blogs, and they all talk about a undefeated season in 2012, and a national championship team for 2013!

    Our site plays like a broken record year after year “We will lose to USC, we will lose to Stanford, and we will lose to someone else” (for ths year most will say Oklahoma) Man that’s getting old.
    I was in agreement that Kelly should be given some time to form his team and establish his system.
    But starting this year I think he had better start beating the USC’s, Stanford’s and Oklahoma’s of the college football world.
    I’m not saying he needs to go undefeated, but he better start showing that his teams can compete with the best, or it could get ugly.
    It’s year 3. We have good players. Forget about the schedule. Just go out and beat people!

    1. Well Shaz,

      USC pretty much beat us with one hand tied behind their back and claimed we quit.

      Now that their star QB is coming back for this year will we quit again?

      If we don’t beat USC this year with so called NCAA sanctions, when will we?

      I am not going to “boil the ocean” this year with Kelly nor make any predictions.

      It is what it is; just ND football. Our history for high expectations every year has been repudiated by the wait till next year crowd.

      The only real problem is “next year” never comes. So sit back, relax and enjoy the games without high stress.

      Go Irish!

      1. JC,

        Alot of people claimed that ND quit that day. I for one believe that you have to show up first, before one can quit.

        USC won that game before they ever left California. They won because they truely believed that they would win.

        And ND didn’t.

        I’m an old school guy. I don’t understand this fragile frame of mind when it comes to ND football.
        Uninspired… leaderless.
        Where’s the pride, the Honor?

        This isn’t the type of ND football I grew up with.

        To be honest with you, I’m not sure what this is any more.

        Maybe a return to the Emerald Island will bring back some of that good Irish luck that we have been missing so much of lately.

        Perhaps while they are there a history lesson about the famed Celtic Warriors might be fitting.

      2. One game at a time. We haven’t even gotten to the first game yet. Hell, we haven’t gotten to the spring game. I won’t make predictions, but, the expectation is greater for year 3. ROI needs to be shown & demonstrated this year for sure.


    2. I agree shaz,

      Honeymoon period for kelly is over..i have been patient with kelly as he didnt walk into a great team..but its year 3..they need to beat at minimum 2 of 3 teams mich, usc, ok…also taking care of business against the teams we should beat…its put up or shut up time in my opinion…time to show we can compete with the powerhouses

  2. Yeah, looks like Troy could easily drag a pile of defensive players into the end zone with him. I kinda like this opportunity for Troy.

  3. … in other news – Defensive Backs for teams on ND’s schedule simultanously start wetting their pants.

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