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It’s official: Rudolph gone after three seasons

Jan 5, 2011, 1:13 PM EDT

Washington v Notre Dame Getty Images

Our original scoop last night has been confirmed this morning by Notre Dame: Kyle Rudolph is forgoing his senior season at Notre Dame and heading to the NFL.

“I truly feel blessed for the last three years of my life at Notre Dame,” Rudolph said in a statement released by the university. “It has been a great experience I wouldn’t trade for anything and wish everyone could experience something like this just once in his or her life. It has also been a dream of mine to play in the National Football League and so I will forgo my final season of eligibility at Notre Dame and enter my name for the 2011 NFL Draft.”

In the same statement, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly had this to say about his talented tight end.

“Kyle Rudolph has a very bright future ahead of him and he will instantly make some lucky NFL team much better next year,” Kelly said. “I know this was a tough decision for Kyle because of the great relationships he formed at Notre Dame and he will be missed in the locker room next year. But we are happy for him and his family and are excited to watch him represent the University of Notre Dame during this next chapter of his life.”

Rudolph was a semi-finalist for the John Mackey Award in both 2009 and 2010, given to the top tight end in the country, even though he was hampered by injuries in both seasons.

With Rudolph gone, the spotlight at the position turns to Tyler Eifert as the unquestioned starter, one of the season’s top surprises, filling in more than admirably for Rudolph when he went down with a season-ending hamstring injury. It also means that the Irish could bring reserve tight end Mike Ragone back for a fifth year. Even though Ragone didn’t make a huge mark statistically, he’s a strong and physical blocker that was used often in two tight end sets.

The Irish held freshman Alex Welch out this year, preserving a year of eligibility and welcome in touted recruit Ben Koyack, one of the best tight ends in the nation, leaving the cupboard far from bare even with Rudolph’s departure.

Still no word on the decision of wide receiver Michael Floyd, who will also decide whether or not to return for his senior season.



  1. schuey73 - Jan 5, 2011 at 2:53 PM

    Obviously I’m a little disappointed that we are losing a talent and leader like Rudolph. I hope he goes in the first round and I’ll cheer hard for him on Sunday’s unless he’s playing against the Colts! Maybe he’ll get drafted by Indy.

    It does make this easier knowing that we have loads of talented TE’s to take his place. I’ve become a huge believer in Tyler Eifert. He was a huge part in our 2nd half turn around.

  2. mattnef - Jan 5, 2011 at 3:59 PM

    I’m also sad to see Kyle go, but agree that the TE position is in good hands. Though that would have been a dangerous personnel package with Rudolph and Eiffert out there together.
    I’m much more worried about Floyd leaving. While the offense missed Rudolph it wasn’t that noticable, but missing Floyd would leave a big hole.

  3. jerseyshorendfan1 - Jan 5, 2011 at 8:32 PM

    Kelly says, “…he will be missed in the locker room next year.” I guess that means he won’t be missed on the field so much, seeing as how Eifert has really stepped up and had a lot of people saying “Kyle who?” toward the end of the season. Best of luck to Kyle as he follows a steady stream of ND tight ends into the bigs. My favorite was always Mark Bavaro who always seemed pissed off about something, he was one of the greats. I hope Rudolph can go in the first and get some of that first round cash and not drop like a stone a la Clausen last year. I also agree with mattnef in that I will be much more upset by Floyd’s departure, in the event that happens.

  4. pigskinut - Jan 6, 2011 at 11:26 AM

    pigskinut–Jan 6,2011 10:20 AM

    I think it would be good if a scholorship is awarded a player, that player needs to commit to a full four years. If he chooses to jump ship before that time, he should be responsible for reimbursing the school for the cost of the scholorship. Some of these kids don’t know how good they have it nor do they know their responsibilities. Kyle will be missed on the field, but N.D. will be the one that will be hurt most. Great to see Eifert doing so well with his opportunity!

    • borromini - Jan 6, 2011 at 2:09 PM

      [I][B]”I think it would be good if a scholorship is awarded a player, that player needs to commit to a full four years. If he chooses to jump ship before that time, he should be responsible for reimbursing the school for the cost of the scholorship.”[/B][/I]

      Right…there’s a sure-fire approach to getting top recruits to commit to your program..

      • 1notredamefan - Jan 6, 2011 at 7:33 PM

        So your implying Notre Dame be the only one having that rule? Pigskinut may have meant that but I think It was toward an NCAA rule?

    • 1notredamefan - Jan 6, 2011 at 7:43 PM

      I agree although believe there would have to be stipulations with that kind of rule… Hurt for more than 35% of the time on scholarship, opted for draft after sophomore or junior year – Repay!

      There is a contract you sign when enrolling in school under a scholarship and keeping your end of the deal would show these kids a commitment is exactly that a ‘commit-ment’, not a stepping stone to stardom (NFL).

  5. vegasmark - Jan 6, 2011 at 9:05 PM

    So Keith,
    What do you make of MMF’s tweet to Rudy about being gone forever??? MMF wanted him to stay at ND with him? Am I reading too much into this? Do I need a better hobby than dissecting college kids’ twitter feed?

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