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Eifert returning for senior season

Jan 6, 2012, 2:23 PM EST

Eifert

When the Irish head to Ireland next year to kick off the 2012 season, they’ll have their two best senior leaders with them. With Manti Te’o already set to return for his senior season and lead the Irish defense, it now looks like All-American tight end Tyler Eifert will be there with him to take charge of the offense.

After seriously considering a move to the NFL after his junior year, Eifert has decided to return for his senior season, according to reports from both IrishIllustrated.com and the Chicago Tribune.

“He’s really come around and wants to come back,” Eifert’s father Greg told Pete Sampson of IrishIllustrated.com. “He wants to come back, get bigger, get stronger and get to a BCS bowl next year.”

For those keeping track at home, Eifert’s return makes three “six-star” recruits in a row staying put at Notre Dame, with Michael Floyd, Te’o, and now Eifert telling the NFL it can wait while deciding to stay in school for a final season. In Eifert’s case, he’s actually got two years of eligibility remaining after a back injury kept him out of action his freshman season. But after a breakout season that saw Eifert put up the most statistically impressive year of any tight end in the country, the Irish coaching staff will be just fine with one more year for the record-breaking tight end from Fort Wayne, Indiana.

The Eifert family welcomed new offensive coordinator Chuck Martin into their home on Thursday night, and the Irish’s recruiting coordinator must have impressed as Eifert reportedly informed Brian Kelly of his decision Friday morning. The return gives the Irish a proven pass-catching threat while question marks surround the receiving corp, now without the school’s all-time leader in Floyd.

Eifert reportedly received a third-round grade from the NFL’s advisory board, not all that surprising given the limited body of work Eifert has at Notre Dame. Entering his sophomore year, Eifert was an unknown entity, sitting his freshman season with a back injury that many thought could threaten his career. Eifert received minimal attention in the Irish offense as he played next to Kyle Rudolph, but an injury to Rudolph opened the door for Eifert, who immediately made his presence felt during Kelly’s first season. Eifert’s breakout 2011 was predictable for Irish fans, but none saw the season Eifert put up coming, where he broke the school’s all-time receptions record for a tight end, catching 63 passes for 803 yards and five touchdowns.

Eifert can certainly help raise his draft stock this season by improving his physicality and in-line blocking skills, two areas that lack compared to the tight end’s ability to make plays in space. His return also pokes holes in a growing narrative that there’s some kind of schism between the head coach and players from the previous coaching regime, with three All-American caliber players returning to school when the NFL was clearly ready for them.

No official announcement has been made yet by Notre Dame, with the coaching staff dispatched around the country recruiting.

  1. bigirishphan - Jan 6, 2012 at 2:48 PM

    Kinda knew this was coming, but happy nonetheless.

  2. dickasman - Jan 6, 2012 at 3:25 PM

    Keith, do you need an assistant? I already broke the news on the other thread. I am 6′ 1″, 185 lb., tall dark handsome funny and well hung. FYI, Erin Andrews or Jenn Brown would love me.

    • 808raiderinparadise - Jan 7, 2012 at 6:10 AM

      nice comment. forget the thumbsdown haters … those are lame conservative ND fans that apparently are hapy with 8-5, 6-6 seasons. true its time to get a real QB, Clausen was soooooooo good scored 33 points a game and we went 6-6, no defense. Now our defense is solid. Just need Golson to take the helm and ND can have a gr8 year. Teo doesn;t need to lose wieght, he just isnt fast but he moves well laterally despite it.

  3. dickasman - Jan 6, 2012 at 3:31 PM

    Yeah but what good is it if we’re going to have another 8-5 season? Let’s get a real QB back there first. I pray to god before I go to every night that Manti loses 15-20 lbs so he can fly around faster and give his ankles a rest and that 15-20 lbs can be given to Tyler.

    Any ND graduate plastic surgery doc’s out there willing to do pro bono fat transfer surgery work on our football players?

    • trbowman - Jan 6, 2012 at 4:06 PM

      Maybe they could bring Jimmy Clausen back to play quarterback. Not like he’s busy doing it in the NFL or anything.

      • bernhtp - Jan 6, 2012 at 6:50 PM

        Jimmy has the best job in the NFL, which is backup quarterback. He makes millions a year without getting beaten to a pulp every week and eventually crippled for life. His career will be much longer than the average starter. Brady Quinn is equally smart.

  4. jonnyapple02 - Jan 6, 2012 at 4:38 PM

    WOOHOO! Thanks for the update. Good stuff.

  5. jerseyshorendfan1 - Jan 6, 2012 at 5:18 PM

    This is the best pick up of the whole recruiting season. I kind of figured this might happen after he projected for the 3rd round of the draft. He wants those 1st round bucks. Wouldn’t we all?

  6. oldndgrad - Jan 6, 2012 at 6:05 PM

    Great to have these guys back and it will certainly help, but with Kelly as coach and no experienced qb, I refrain from getting my hopes up again until I see results. I’m tired of being disappointed and losing to inferior teams with inferior talent.

    • 1historian - Jan 8, 2012 at 8:28 AM

      USF was inexcusable, Michigan was unbelievable. After that they settled down and played pretty well. USC had superior talent, as did Stanford, as did FSU, although that last one is arguable.

      They have gotten to the point where they beat teams they are supposed to beat and that is a start. I know that that is a “Thank God for small favors” remark, but right now it seems to be the best we can do.

      But better days are coming. The fact that Eifert, Teo and Floyd ALL decided to come back for another year of Kelly says more about him and hopefully the future of the program than anything any of us can say from the (safety of) the sidelines.

      This is going to take a few more years – remember that next year’s team will consist of 5/8 Kelly recruits, aka RKG. We still need a signature game, a turn-the-corner game.

  7. trbowman - Jan 6, 2012 at 7:03 PM

    “Jimmy has the best job in the NFL, which is backup quarterback. He makes millions a year without getting beaten to a pulp every week and eventually crippled for life. His career will be much longer than the average starter. Brady Quinn is equally smart”

    He won’t even last as a backup if he doesn’t start to improve on an absolutely horrendous rookie year.

  8. jomilly - Jan 6, 2012 at 7:34 PM

    Good news, I wouldnt say great. I love the back ups of Koyack and Welch. Both are going to be pass catching studs. As far as I am concerened with the talent backing him up, unless he improves his blocking skills, this really isnt that big of a deal.

  9. bostonjan - Jan 6, 2012 at 8:52 PM

    What a terrific announcement to start the weekend…..hopefully setting the tone for anticipated Irish commitment on Saturday. I think we can easily predict who the Irish Captains will be next year. RGKs.

    • papadec - Jan 7, 2012 at 7:04 PM

      Well Boston – it’s turned into a very nice ND weekend. We only got the Shumate commit – but, the ND women beat UConn, and the men beat L’Ville in basketball. Both wins in OT. Bad scheduling with both games on at the same time though.

  10. rr1380 - Jan 6, 2012 at 10:08 PM

    Wow! Which other school gets stud players like Te’o and Eiffert to stay when they know they can make so much flow by leaving? What a great school! A degree from Notre Dame will set even these guys apart from the rest and they know it. I will always love Notre Dame! GO IRISH!

  11. leftcoastirishfan - Jan 6, 2012 at 11:30 PM

    Makes since why the Irish are going after Kent Taylor. Taylor needs a year to bulk up. I figured they dumped McNamara when they knew they had Eifert. Taylor would be a great pick up for the Irish.

  12. fitz79 - Jan 7, 2012 at 10:46 AM

    Great news Eifert is coming back. Now we just need someone to step up at receiver with Floyd’s departure. Likewise someone needs to have a great spring and really seize the quarterback position. I’m trying to stay open minded about whom that will be. I’m not even ruling out Rees yet despite a couple of undoubtedly disappointing performances to end the season. Quinn and Clausen both threw too many interceptions as well as underclassmen. I’ve noticed that some people who were calling for Hendrix to start have suddenly changed their minds in favor of Golson, I suppose because of one interception? Fickle much? Maybe it will be Golson but he hasn’t played a single play in college ball yet so whose to say. He may have a ton of raw talent but the first rookie mistake he makes out there some people will be calling for his head.

    • bernhtp - Jan 7, 2012 at 1:05 PM

      Floyd won’t be replaced but we should get some help from an (ostensibly) improved Eifert, Jones and Toma, (redshirt) Davaris Daniels, and other current freshman and incoming recruits. Overall, I don’t expect the receiving crew to be materially worse, and it has some upside of being a bit better. The O-line should be as good or better. Losing Jonas is a loss, but we should have an improved Cierre Wood, Atkinson, and probably an elite recruit. The big X-factor and need is the QB position and its performance. Without significant improvement there, the offense will continue to frequently flounder.

  13. tony34343434 - Jan 7, 2012 at 10:46 AM

    great news for the irish! any new news on recruiting?

  14. jerseyirish10 - Jan 7, 2012 at 3:24 PM

    Elijah Shumate from DB Prep here in Jersey just gave ND his pledge….

  15. leftcoastirishfan - Jan 7, 2012 at 6:35 PM

    Don’t look now but, rumor has is that Amir Carlisle may have made a mistake last year picking SC. Transferring to Notre Dame

    • papadec - Jan 7, 2012 at 7:13 PM

      leftcoast – Would that be a package deal with the Armstead brothers? More seriously – after the way the ND men played basketball vs L’Ville today (@ L’Ville), do the Irish really need Arik for basketball? I’m sure Amir would be welcomed @ ND.

  16. leftcoastirishfan - Jan 7, 2012 at 7:52 PM

    Papadec, my ND fantasy recruiting year would include both Armstead bros, Nelson A, Devin F, Yuri W. These along with already committed would a no more excuses class. IMO of course.

    • papadec - Jan 7, 2012 at 9:08 PM

      leftcoast – that would be nice – aim high. GO IRISH!!!

  17. frankbjr - Jan 7, 2012 at 10:58 PM

    Wow! Nice to see everyone in such a state of euphoria! Just remember these fine receivers still need someone to throw the ball to them!

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