The All-American, Mackey Award Winner, and all-time Notre Dame leader in catches for tight ends is now gone. Tyler Eifert will be drafted in the first round of this year’s NFL draft, which is great, but who will fill the void. I don’t think that there is a tight end on the roster that has the athleticism to split out to wide receiver and get separation from the corners, but there are many good tight ends that will be on Notre Dame’s roster this fall.
Last season it was supposed to be Alex Welch backing up Eifert until Welch was hurt before the season even started. He tore his ACL in his right knee in early August and missed the entire season. Welch played in 10 games in 2011 and didn’t play at all his freshman year so he does have an extra year of eligibility because of that. While Troy Niklas played decent this past season in a backup role, which is good considering he was converted from outside linebacker. Niklas played well at outside backer in 2011 and played in 12 games. He still needs to refine his blocking and route running skills. His height and weight are the biggest advantages for him (6’7’’ 260 pounds). Then there is Ben Koyack, who when he was recruited was a 5 star, but has been beat out by Welch and Niklas so far in his career. Koyack has the skills and overall ability to turn everything around, but is it too late? With two other very talented freshmen coming into the mix it will be hard for Koyack to change everyone’s opinion of him.
Mike Heuerman is a 4 star tight end is now enrolled at Notre Dame is taking classes and getting ready for spring football. Then there is Durham Smythe the 6’6’’ 230 pound 3 star recruit that plans to make an impact early in his career. These guys probably won’t see the field next season and maybe not even their sophomore year, but they are very talented and will have plenty of time to develop.
2013 Projected Depth Chart
1. Troy Niklas/Alex Welch
2. Alex Welch/Troy Niklas
3. Ben Koyack
4. Mike Heuerman
5. Durham Smythe