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Eifert and Goodman look back on the year

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Fort Wayne products Tyler Eifert and John Goodman both had sit-downs with their hometown paper and the News-Sentinel‘s Tom Davis did a nice job capturing what important seasons both athletes had for the Irish.

The entire articles on Eifert and Goodman are well worth the reads, but Davis got a few great quotes out of the duo, who both made solid contributions to the Irish this season.

Here are a few snippets:

It has been quite the football season for Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert – a journey that he terms “bizarre.”

A year ago, Eifert was an injured (back) freshman tight end who wasn’t allowed to play. This season, the Bishop Dwenger graduate not only played, but starred for the Fighting Irish (7-5).

“I think it is so bizarre that it really doesn’t hit you until maybe later looking back on it,” Eifert said in reflecting on his rise to stardom. “I’m just living in the present and enjoying the experience.”

Entering training camp in August, every football fan (including many NFL scouts) was very aware of Notre Dame All-American candidate Kyle Rudolph. The junior tight end was ranked among the best football players – regardless of position – in the country. Eifert was simply in a mix of players vying to be Rudolph’s back-up. But Eifert’s evolution as a player began to show in August camp.

“To be honest, no,” Eifert said of envisioning a prominent role this fall. “I viewed (Rudolph) as the number one guy and I’d play sparingly.”

First-year coach Brian Kelly took notice early that Eifert was outplaying seniors Bobby Burger and Mike Ragone and that the sophomore would be a quality back-up to Rudolph.

“Going from thinking that you aren’t even going to play to catching touchdowns is (weird),” Eifert said. “A lot has happened in the past year.”

And here’s Goodman on where he’s been and what he hopes for next year’s receiving corp.

Goodman finished the season tied with Toma for fifth on the squad in receptions and saw his production this season more than double from six receptions to 14 since his sophomore season. With the lone senior receiver on the current two-deep depth chart being Kamara, touches will be sparse again next season. And that is fine with Goodman.

“I hope that all of the competition keeps up,” Goodman said.

“That’s what this team needs to be good in the future.”

Leading the Irish receiving corps is All-American candidate Michael Floyd. The junior is contemplating making himself eligible for the 2011 NFL Draft, which would certainly open up pass-catching opportunities for Goodman.

“Progressively, I’ve gotten better and better,” Goodman said. “But when you’ve got Mike Floyd in front of you, there’s not too much you can do.”

So having said that, would Goodman like to see Floyd play on Sundays as opposed to Saturdays in 2011?

“I would love to have Mike back (in 2011),” Goodman said. “He’s one of my best friends and one of the best receivers in the country. So why not want him back? I’d much rather him be back than me go in and produce less. Which I’m not saying that I would do that. It’s definitely (about) the team. If (tight end) Kyle (Rudolph) goes pro or Mike goes pro, then good for them. But I would definitely like for them to stay.”

Eifert has to be one of the great surprises on the team, especially considering how serious his back injury was last year. I’ll be the first to admit he was an afterthought for me, and after reading Eifert’s quotes, playing time sounded a bit like an afterthought for him as well.

Goodman’s season didn’t take off this year as well as many expected, but his contributions in the punt return game have been solid and he’s done his job. Both Fort Wayne products will be a large part of next season’s team, regardless of whether or not Rudolph and Floyd return.

Five Irish players sign UFA contracts

Matthias Farley
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Notre Dame had seven players selected in the 2016 NFL Draft, trailing only Ohio State, Clemson and UCLA on the weekend tally. But after the draft finished, the Irish had five more players get their shot at playing on Sundays.

Chris Brown signed with the Dallas Cowboys. Romeo Okwara will begin his career with the New York Giants. Matthias Farley and Amir Carlisle signed contracts with the Arizona Cardinal. Elijah Shumate agreed to a contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

After missing two seasons, Ishaq Williams will be at Giants rookie camp next weekend as well, working as a tryout player. Expect Jarrett Grace to receive similar opportunities.

Count me among those that thought both Brown and Okwara would hear their names called. Brown’s senior season, not to mention his intriguing measureables, had some projecting him as early as the fifth round.

Okwara, still 20 years old and fresh off leading Notre Dame in sacks in back-to-back seasons, intrigued a lot of teams with his ability to play both defensive end and outside linebacker. He’ll get a chance to make the Giants—the team didn’t draft a defensive end after selecting just one last year, and they’re in desperate need of pass rushers.

Both Shumate and Farley feel like contenders to earn a spot on rosters, both because of their versatility and special teams skills. Shumate played nickel back as a freshman and improved greatly at safety during 2015. Farley bounced around everywhere and was Notre Dame’s special teams captain.

Carlisle might fit a similar mold. He played running back, receiver and returned kicks and punts throughout his college career. With a 4.4 during Notre Dame’s Pro Day, he likely showed the Cardinals enough to take a shot, and now he’ll join an offense with Michael Floyd and Troy Niklas.

 

Robertson picks Cal over Notre Dame, UGA

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Demetris Robertson‘s decision wasn’t trending in Notre Dame’s direction. But those that expected the Savannah star athlete to pick the in-state Bulldogs were in for a surprise when Robertson chose Cal on Sunday afternoon.

Notre Dame’s pursuit of the five-star athlete, recruited to play outside receiver and hopefully replace Will Fuller, likely ended Sunday afternoon with Robertson making the surprise decision to take his substantial talents to Berkeley. And give credit to Robertson for doing what he said all along—picking a school that’ll give him the chance to earn an exceptional education and likely contribute from Day One.

“I am excited to take my talents to the University of California, Berkeley. The first reason is that the education was a big part of my decision. I wanted to keep that foundation,” Robertson said, per CFT. “When I went there, it felt like home. Me and the coaching staff have a great relationship. That’s where I felt were the best of all things for me.”

Adding one final twist in all of this is that Robertson has no letter-of-intent to sign. Because he’s blown three months through Signing Day, Robertson merely enrolls at a college when the time comes. That means until then, Kirby Smart and the Georgia staff will continue to sell Robertson on staying home and helping the Dawgs rebuild. Smart visited with Robertson Saturday night and had multiple assistant coaches at his track meet this weekend.

Summer school begins in June for Notre Dame. Their freshman receiving class looks complete with early enrollee Kevin Stepherson and soon-to-arrive pass-catchers Javon McKinley and Chase Claypool.

Sheldon Day drafted in 4th round by Jaguars

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Former Notre Dame captain Sheldon Day didn’t have to wait long on Saturday to hear his name called. The Indianapolis native, All-American, and the Irish’s two-time defensive lineman of the year was pick number 103, the fourth pick of the fourth round on Saturday afternoon.

Day was the seventh Irish player drafted, following first rounders Ronnie Stanley and Will Fuller, second round selections Jaylon Smith and Nick Martin, and third rounders KeiVarae Russell and C.J. Prosise.

Day has a chance to contribute as he joins the 24th-ranked defense in the league. Joining a draft class heavy on defensive players—Jalen Ramsey, Myles Jack and Yannick Ngakoue already picked ahead of him—the front seven will also include last year’s No. 3 overall pick Dante Fowler, who missed the entire season with a knee injury.

Scouted by the Jaguars at the Senior Bowl, Day doesn’t necessarily have the size to be a traditional defensive tackle. But under Gus Bradley’s attacking system (Bradley coordinated the Seahawks defense for four seasons), Day will find a niche and a role in a young defense that’s seen a heavy investment the past two years.

Smith, Martin, Russell and Prosise all drafted Friday night

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - SEPTEMBER 13: William Fuller #7 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Nick Martin #72 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrate a touchdown during the game against the Purdue Boilermakers at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 13, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
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Jaylon Smith, Nick Martin, KeiVarae Russell and C.J. Prosise were all selected on Friday, with four Irish teammates taken on the second night of the NFL Draft. As mentioned, Smith came off the board at pick 34, with the Cowboys gambling on the injured knee of the Butkus Award winner. Nick Martin was selected at pick 50, joining former teammate Will Fuller in Houston.

The third round saw Russell and Prosise come off the board, with Kansas City jumping on the confident cornerback and the Seahawks taking Notre Dame’s breakout running back. It capped off a huge night for the Irish with Sheldon Day, one of the more productive football players in college football, still on the board for teams to pick.

Here’s a smattering of instant reactions from the immediate aftermath.