Dec 5, 2012, 3:48 PM EDT
Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert has won the John Mackey Award, the first Irish player to be honored as college football’s top tight end.
For Eifert, the award comes a year after he led the nation in receptions at the position and was statistically the most deserving candidate. Returning for his senior season, Eifert’s production slipped as the offense shifted quarterbacks to Everett Golson, but the senior captain did more than just catch passes for the No. 1 team in the nation, working as a key blocker and upping his NFL Draft stock with a complete and dominating senior season.
On the year, Eifert had 44 receptions for 624 yards and four touchdowns. He broke just about every tight end record in the Notre Dame record books, surpassing former Irish great Ken MacAfee along the way. Eifert beat out Stanford’s Zach Ertz and Washington’s Austin Seferian-Jenkins for the coveted award.
In other award news, Manti Te’o continues his kudos march through New York, adding the Nagurski Award to the Butkus Award he received earlier in the week. Awarded to the nation’s top defensive player, the Bronko Nagurski Award is one of the most coveted in all of college football.
Te’o beat out fellow finalists Jadeveon Clowney, the star defensive end from South Carolina, Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones, Alabama cornerback Dee Millner and Florida State defensive end Bjoern Werner.
The awards aren’t likely to stop for Te’o. While he finished behind Alabama center Barrett Jones for the Campbell Trophy as the nation’s top scholar-athlete, Te’o was named CBS Sports’ defensive player of the year, headlining the award-winners by the networks’ All-American team, where Te’o was a first-team linebacker.
Interestingly enough, Stephon Tuitt joined Te’o on that first team, categorized as a defensive tackle, even though Tuitt lines up predominantly at end for the Irish in their 3-4 fronts. Tuitt’s inclusion on the first team bumped Louis Nix to CBS’s third team All-American squad, where the stout nose guard gets awarded for a tremendous season.
While no offensive players from the Irish made the first team, both Tyler Eifert and Braxston Cave were named to the second team offense.