Troy NIklas Leaving Notre Dame Early for NFL

Troy Niklas - Leaving Notre Dame for NFL
Notre Dame Fighting Irish tight end Troy Niklas (85) makes a catch during the fourth quarter against the Michigan Wolverines at Michigan Stadium. Michigan Wolverines defeated Notre Dame Fighting Irish 41-30. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

If there’s been a single day with more disappointing news stories for Notre Dame fans than today, I can’t remember it.  Late Thursday night reports surfaced that junior tight end Troy Niklas is leaving Notre Dame early and declaring himself eligible for the 2014 NFL Draft.


Add Niklas early departure to Thursday’s news of Matt Dickerson decommitting from Notre Dame and Davaris Daniels being suspended for the spring semester and you have a trio of terrible news for Notre Dame fans all in less than 24 hours.

Just a few weeks ago Niklas had told the media before the Pinstripe Bowl that he fully planned on returning to Notre Dame for his senior season.  Once reports surfaced that Nikals received a 2nd-4th round grade from the NFL Advisory Committee though his comments with regards to the draft were not as definitive.

Now we know why.  Niklas became the third Notre Dame junior to the declare for this year’s NFL Draft – an unprecedented number of Notre Dame underclassmen to bypass their senior seasons in favor of declaring for the NFL Draft.  Stephon Tuitt declared for the draft on Sunday as most expected and on Wednesday George Atkinson surprised most when he too declared for the Draft.

In his first season as a full time starting tight end for Notre Dame, Niklas caught 32 passes for 498 yards and 5 touchdowns – numbers similar to the production of Tyler Eifert in 2012.  Even with strong numbers, NIklas’s early exit comes as a bit of a shocker to most as no one could have envisioned that Niklas would be in position to leave early for the NFL after just his second season playing at tight end.

Prior to 2014, head coach Brian Kelly had done an amazing job of recruiting high profile juniors to return for their senior seasons.  Michael Floyd, Manti Te’o, Tyler Eifert, Zack Martin, and Louis Nix all could have left Notre Dame earlier than they did, but all returned at least for their senior seasons.  Efiert and Nix had eligibiltiy remaining when they did leave for the NFL, but completed their senior seasons and gained their degrees.

Luckily for Notre Dame Ben Koyack began to emerge in 2013 as a viable receiving threat at tight end, but Niklas departure will thrust either Mike Heuermann or Durham Smythe into a much more prominent role than either imaged they would have in 2014.  Given Koyack’s receiving skills and problems with blocking, Smythe may be in the line for the bigger role as the better blocker between he and Heurmann.  Notre Dame also has two tight ends in the current 2014 recruiting class in Tyler Luatua and Nic Weishar.

Watch: Notre Dame's Javon McKinley Break 6 Tackles for His First Career TD

In our list of 2014 New Year’s resolutions for Notre Dame, we had hoped for a quiet off-season after the tumultuous off-season Notre Dame endured in 2012.  Well, the calendar reads January 9 and Notre Dame has already had three juniors declare for the NFL Draft, a key defensive lineman decommit in favor of UCLA, and lost its leading returning wide receiver for Spring practice.

So much for a quiet, drama-less off-season.


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  1. bj 6 years ago

    Notre Dame scored $96.6 million in revenue,and we cant find a world class oc and dc? its not about the money but clearly we have the ability to compete with anyone. were is that guy from oregon!!!!!!!!!!!

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  2. Brandon 6 years ago


    The players loved Charlie Weis. How did that end up?

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    1. Ron Burgundy 6 years ago

      The curmudgeon won’t listen you just wasted valuable seconds of your life.

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    2. JC 6 years ago

      Really? Which CW are you talking about? The pinprick CEO or the wannabe player’s coach in the end? CW’s ego kept him in the grey area with his vasillating indecisiveness as a wannabe leader. BK has admitted the same exact problem at the begining of the 2012 season. “I need to get back being a player’s coach!” Leader’s who question their own leadership are of no value to anyone! They are lost sheep! Any board of directors in the real business world would throw them out on their tail! The jekll and hyde coaching club loses. Franklin is not from that leadership club he has stayed the coarse.
      PSU wanted a high energy ‘positive’ players coach that does not call out players in the media! The jury is still out on BK’s claimed transformation.

      Excellent question Brandon, thank you!

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      1. Ron Burgundy 6 years ago

        So James Franklin with a 24-15 record is somehow golden in your book but BK and his 208-72 record should be thrown out by the board of directors.

        Your hypocrisy knows no bounds.

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      2. JC 6 years ago

        PSU was desperate genius for a winning coach that fit their program exclusively. So your in love BK what’s new about that jr. ND hires Head Football Coaches to win National Championships! Slap that on your wall and grow-up!

        Woody Hayes had a better record than BK and look how he got fired Mr. Wonderful! Anger issues!

        Whatever, keep puffing those lucky charms!

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      3. Ron Burgundy 6 years ago

        I weep for I one day fear you will run out of moronic things to say.

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      4. JC 6 years ago

        Don’t let your mind wander, it’s far too small to be let out on its own.

        Just keep sniffing your advertised favorite panther sex cologne to see the real moron in the mirror.

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      5. Ron Burgundy 6 years ago

        To be clear it is called Sex Panther by Odeon.

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  3. duranko 6 years ago

    The Big Ten is officially not as relevant any more to Notre Dame sports. sure they have the revenue of the Big Ten network, but they hung up another typical 2-5 in the Bowl Games.

    And talent? Follow the demographics.

    Where are our studs (early draft entrant) from:
    Georgia: Tuitt
    Florida: NIx
    California: Atkinson and Niklas

    This year, we have a nice contingent from California, Texas and Florida.
    And that is the key for us getting the top athletes.

    The Big Ten is a mere archive.

    And our schedule will begin reflecting that appropriately.

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    1. C-Dog 6 years ago


      They should change the name to the BIG MAC.

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  4. duranko 6 years ago

    niklas also had a concussion while at Notre Dame, and may have had one in high school.

    Given the recent studies, the short economic window, and news like John Carlson having to give up football change the way you look at things.

    at least for some of us.

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  5. duranko 6 years ago

    dog don’t hunt Jack.

    Championships at three levels are championships at three levels.

    Better comparisons might have been Tressel or Pinkel.

    Franklin fattened up on Wake and Kentucky, and the programs in disrepair.
    the only “solid” SEC team he beat was this year’s Georgia team.

    Facts are facts.
    Championships at three levels are championshbips at three levels.
    One quality SEC win is one quality SEC win.

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    1. JC 6 years ago

      Facts are definitely in the paycheck! Hell yes the dog hunts at tune of 4.5 million per year! Stop licking the dog bowl clean. Listen to something ‘you’ duranko no nothing about! Franklin has personality plus and his players love him! BK is a purple face expert and his players love the assistant coaches. Stop making excuses for BK’s piss-poor interpersonal skills after 4 years. Fact is, you know damn well we are stuck with a prima donna similar to yourself! Take a bow you just won your own coveted “Princess on a pea” Award!

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      1. Ron Burgundy 6 years ago

        It’s anchorman not anchorlady and that is a scientific fact!

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      2. JC 6 years ago

        Take it up with durando you were on his ‘blanket award list’ too! Princess!

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    2. Jack 6 years ago


      Franklin’s only head coaching gig was at Vandy. Not fair to compare. Let BK learn the ropes in the SEC and his numbers wouldn’t have been so great. I am telling you PSU will be vying for Big Ten championships under this guy and fighting the great cheat Urban.

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  6. duranko 6 years ago

    Jack, we have all wondered what “external” force would bring Bama’s program back to the pack. But it would not shock reason if, as you hint,
    Saban’s hire of the Gaetan Dugas of college football is the thing
    that infects the Red Elephant.

    As far as Franklin, it is still too close to the Paterno era. The Paterno family ought be exiled to football’s Elba. Al McGuire was eloguent and incisive, and those words are redundant when you mention McGuire,
    about the perils of following a legend. UCLA post Wooden and Bama post Bryant are case studies that it takes a decade or two. Franklin is from the Stroudsburgs so he knows the territory.

    And for the record, I must demur to the comparison of Franklin and Kelly. Kelly won championships at three of his stops. Franklin won none.
    that is a difference with distinction.

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