Jan 4, 2011, 9:35 PM EDT
It appears that Kyle Rudolph has played his last game for the University of Notre Dame. According to two sources, Rudolph will forgo his senior season for the Irish and opt into next Spring’s NFL Draft.
A preseason All-American candidate before the year started, Rudolph’s final year at Notre Dame didn’t go according to plan, as he was plagued with a hamstring problem from preseason camp. That same hamstring was injured against Pitt in the sixth game of the year, requiring season-ending surgery.
Rudolph looks to have zeroed in on agent Drew Rosenhaus and will likely withdraw from school to prepare for the upcoming draft workouts. He completes his Notre Dame career with 90 receptions, 1,032 yards and 8 touchdowns during three seasons, the final two plagued by injuries.
While Rudolph hasn’t publicly revealed what the NFL Draft Advisory Board told him, many pundits believe that the 6-6, 265-pound tight end is the best available in the draft. Even with the injury, there’s been a tight end taken in the first round of every draft since 1999, so if Rudolph is as good as his ranking, he could hear his name called on the first evening of picks.
Rudolph situation is similar to that of New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, who sat our his entire junior season at Arizona with a back injury and still was picked 42nd overall.