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) /
5 of 7
tight end at Notre Dame
2. Ken MacAfee(Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images) /

Ken MacAfee is, without a doubt, the prototypical Notre Dame tight end. He is the image drawn up in the myth of Irish football He is the legend behind Notre Dame’s tight end lore.

From 1975 to 1977 MacAfee was an All-American three times. He was also an Academic All-American in 1977. This was the time of Dan Devine. This was Rudy, Joe Montana, and the Green Jersey Game. In short, MacAfee was an all-world tight end, on an all-world team. A vision of the perfect tight end for Notre Dame, the ideal of college football.

MacAfee saw action in 10 games as a freshman and was a solid tight end during that time. However, in his 1975 sophomore season, he exploded. That year he had 26 catches, 333 yards, and 5 touchdowns. That was good for his first All-American award.

1976 came, and MacAfee only got stronger. He upped his production that season to 34 catches for 483 yards. His touchdown mark did slip back to 3 for the season. Once again, he was named to the All-American team.

Then, 1977 came around, and MacAfee saw another explosion in production. His numbers jumped to 54 catches for 797 yards and 6 touchdowns. That mark of 797 yards was the most receiving for a tight end in a single season and would stand until Tyler Eifert in 2012.

More than a great individual season, 1977 was a great one for Notre Dame. The Irish were ranked 3rd when they entered the season, but an early stumble against Ole Miss set them back in the rankings, where they stagnated. Then, the Irish got their shot at USC. The Trojans were ranked 5th in the country, and Notre Dame beat them like a rented mule. Coming out next to a Trojan Horse, while wearing green, Notre Dame beat USC 49-19. MacAfee casually had two touchdowns in the game.

From there Notre Dame went on to beat top-ranked Texas in the Cotton Bowl. That game wasn’t close either, 38-10. There was no doubt in the voter’s minds. Notre Dame was the Consensus National Champion.

Accolades poured onto the elite tight end. Along with being an All-American and an Academic All-American, MacAfee finished the season 3rd in Heisman Trophy voting. MacAfee also won the Walter Camp Award, which goes to the player of the year. Then there was also the Knute Rockne Award, which is supposed to go to the lineman of the year, but MacAfee won anyways at tight end. That should give you a hint at his dominance as a blocker.

Is it any surprise that Ken MacAfee is in the College Football Hall of Fame? None at all.