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) /
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Tight end at Notre Dame
5. Bob Dove (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Here’s a short spoiler alert. The 5th best tight end in the history of Notre Dame football played the earliest of anyone to make this list. Bob Dove, who played from 1940-1942, was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2001.

Stats for Dove are difficult to come by. Add in that his era saw the tight end used almost exclusively as an extra blocker, and you don’t need to see his stats to know they don’t compare well to modern tight ends.

What you can find with Bob Dove, is an undeniable resume and legendary career. The youngest player to start for Notre Dame in eleven seasons, Frank Leahy knew he had something special in Dove from the start.

What Leahy had was a two time All-American and the best tight end in the country.

An excellent blocker, Dove was awarded the Knute Rockne Award for being the best lineman in the country. Now, obviously Dove played on the end and wasn’t a lineman. However, this does tell you two things.

The first, the tight end was seen as an extra offensive lineman who happened to be an eligible receiver.

The second, Bob Dove was the best blocker in the country, and he didn’t even have to be an offensive lineman to do it. Blocking is considered about half of the role of a tight end today. Then it was more like 90% of the game and that’s a large part of what made Dove such an elite talent at the position.

Aside from his excellence as a blocker, Dove was a more than capable pass catcher. He caught 15 balls as a sophomore before he ever made an All-American team.

During his time on the Irish football team, Notre Dame went 7-2, 8-0-1, and 7-2-2. It was the base of what was to become the legendary tenure of Frank Leahy, and players like Dove are the ones who set the tone.

Another part of the era was to play both sides of the ball and it was brutally physical. It was extra stress on the body and only makes his excellence more impressive. By all accounts, as difficult as possible is just the way Dove liked it, as Frank Leahy said about him, “He’s the kind of boy who gets tears in his eyes even in a scrimmage.”

Dove isn’t the most common name in the Notre Dame lexicon, but he’s certainly worth more attention.