Notre Dame football: Top 5 to play tight end in school history

4. Tyler Eifert (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
4. Tyler Eifert (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /
1 of 7
Tight end at Notre Dame
Notre Dame tight ends (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

The tight end position is ingrained in the history of Notre Dame football as a position the program produces elite talent at. Here are the five best.

Sports Illustrated named Notre Dame “O-Line U,” and rightly so, but it’s easy to make an argument that through history Notre Dame has also been “Tight End U.” There are great tight ends littered in the Notre Dame lore.

Modern names like Kyle Rudolph and Tyler Eifert are at the tip of young Notre Dame fan tongues. Those just a bit older would run of names like Ken MacAfee and Irv Smith. Going back further still, names like Bob Dove and Leon Hart.

These players have given Notre Dame an identity on offense throughout history as a big, strong, physical attack. At the same time as the tight end position is a physical one, it’s also a graceful position. You need to be fast and agile. You need soft hands.

The list of tight end greats goes on and on and is proof of Notre Dame’s long dominance at the tight end position.

As always, there is difficulty in judging a player in the modern game against a player from decades, even a century ago. The size and speed of players changes. The landscape of college football changes. Additionally, the expectations of players in their given position shifts over time.

With the tight end position, this is even more difficult than most positions on the field. At one point the position was essentially an extra offensive lineman. In the modern game, tight ends are often used as an over-sized wide receiver. The best tight ends, though, are as talented at blocking as receiving.

Look at Eifert’s skill-set was vs that of Irv Smith. Both were great tight ends, but different skills were more valued during their individual eras. This is why players need to be judged by the entirety of their resume while at Notre Dame. It can’t just be a matter of whose stats are best. Instead, this is about their awards, value to the team, legacy, as well as their stats.

This is also a list that recognizes Notre Dame’s tight ends for their career in college. Whether they had a strong career in the NFL, or not, that won’t matter as far as their spot on this list goes.

These are the top 5 tight ends in the history of Notre Dame football: