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
1. Leon Hart (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

In terms of talent, Leon Hart is not the best tight end in Notre Dame history. MacAfee, Casper, and Eifert all blow him away. Hart was, however, was the end who originally established Notre Dame as “Tight End U.” In the process, he was more awarded and has a better all-around resume, than any Notre Dame tight end to ever play the game. An All-American for three seasons, Hart was the best offensive weapon on three different National Championship teams under the legendary coach, Frank Leahy.

In his 1947 season, Hart revolutionized what it meant to play end in football. He caught 49 passes over the course of his career, for a total of 751 yards. How many touchdowns he caught is unclear, but it is likely between 5 and 15. Those don’t seem like massive numbers today, but they were revolutionary then. Hart’s best season was his senior season when he 19 passes for 257 yards and 5 touchdowns.

Given this revolutionizing Hart did of the position, it’s no wonder that he was Notre Dame’s third Heisman Trophy winner, in 1949. He won that Heisman Trophy over names like Doak Walker, and no tight end has ever won the award since. That season Hart was also the recipient of the Maxwell Award and the Sporting News Player of the Year Award. He even beat out Jackie Robinson for AP Athlete of the Year.

Now, keep in mind that Leon Hart did all of this while playing as a two-way player.

Leon Hart was a part of three National Championship teams during his four seasons in South Bend. 1946, 1947, and 1949 were all National Championship campaigns, including the classic game of the century against Army in 1946. He was also never part of a losing effort at Notre Dame, with only two ties to blemish his otherwise pristine record.

Not just a College Football Hall of Fame member, Leon Hart is the best tight end in the history of Notre Dame football. He was the establishing force of dominance for Notre Dame at the position, revolutionized how it was played and was more awarded than anyone else to ever play tight end.