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Irish A-to-Z: Ben Koyack

Jul 19, 2014, 3:24 PM EDT

New Era Pinstripe Bowl - Rutgers v Notre Dame Getty Images

After two underwhelming seasons in South Bend, tight end Ben Koyack began to emerge last season, a steady blocker who also became a productive option in the passing game. But the unanticipated departure for of Troy Niklas to the NFL changed Koyack’s role in the Irish offense from complementary to essential, and the senior tight end has a lot on his shoulders entering his final season at Notre Dame.

The only tight end on the roster with any playing experience, Koyack will be a key cog in the Irish attack. Capable of playing attached to the line or split wide, Koyack has the talent to continue Notre Dame’s run of producing top-level tight ends to the NFL Draft.

But to do that, he’ll have to build on a junior season that saw Koyack significantly improve, bringing some much needed confidence back to a player that seemed to lose it early in 2012 and never get it back.

Let’s take a look at the Irish’s starting tight end from Oil City, Pennsylvania.


6’5″, 261 lbs.
Senior, No. 18



Koyack was an elite high school prospect, a big-bodied, athletic Top 100 player from Pennsylvania who Notre Dame identified early and won over Penn State, Ohio State, LSU, Oklahoma, USC and others. Koyack was down to the Buckeyes and Irish before he visited for the Blue-Gold game. He watched Notre Dame’s tight ends play and committed to the Irish two days later.

Koyack was Notre Dame’s No. 1 tight end in the country, and Kelly talked about what made him a perfect prospect for the Irish offense.

“We loved Ben Koyack from the very beginning,” Kelly said. “Great size. If you’re going to compare him to anybody, Tyler Eifert…
He’s got all the skills necessary to be a great, great fit within our offensive structure.”



Freshman Season (2011): Played in 12 games, starting against Air Force. Caught one pass for five yards against Pittsburgh. Also contributed on special teams.

Sophomore Season (2012): Appeared in 12 games, starting the BCS Championship game against Alabama as part of a three-tight end set. Made three catches for 39 yards on the season. Appeared to struggle with confidence after early drops against Navy in the season opener, but still contributed as a third tight end behind Tyler Eifert and Troy Niklas.

Junior Season (2013): Played in all 13 games for Notre Dame, starting five. Made 10 catches for 171 yards and three touchdowns. Finished behind only Will Fuller and Corey Robinson in yards per catch, averaging 17.1 yards a touch. Notre Dame won all three games Koyack scored in. Had a career-high four catches against Pitt.



For a guy with only 14 career catches, there’s a reason why experts see a big senior season coming from Koyack. Even without Notre Dame’s trend towards producing elite-level tight ends, Koyack has everything you want out of an NFL tight end. The size to play attached. The speed and athleticism to make a difference in the passing game.

All that being said, entering his fourth year of college football, potential will only get him so far. And Koyack has had some big drops in his career, with his Navy game in 2012 seemingly sinking his sophomore season before the year even started.

Yet Koyack seems to be a changed man, with a leadership role looking like a perfect fit. (Potentially a dark horse for captaincy?) Kelly talked about Koyack being the receiver who could drive the offense this spring. Pete Sampson at Irish Illustrated commented on Koyack’s work at Irish Invasion during a recent podcast, coaching up high schoolers with the confidence of a team leader.

Koyack might not be Niklas from a sheer athletic perspective. But he’s worthy of an NFL Draft pick, and a big season could see him make a move up draft boards quickly.



Some guys take longer than others to develop. And walking into a program that just had Kyle Rudolph picked as the first tight end off the board in the draft and turned Tyler Eifert into an All-American, personal expectations were likely high for Koyack. And while he hasn’t lived up to the Top 100 billing that he entered with, a lot of it is a product of opportunity.

That opportunity has arrived. And in an Irish spread attack that should allow Koyack to get some very favorable coverage matchups, there’s no better bet for a statistical breakout year than the senior tight end.

Digging a little deeper, the chemistry between Koyack and Everett Golson will be crucial. It took a bit of time for Golson to properly utilize Eifert, even as the team’s only true one-on-one playmaker. Koyack doesn’t have those skills, but he also won’t have a bullseye on his back, either.


The Irish A-to-Z
Josh Atkinson
Nicky Baratti
Alex Bars
Hunter Bivin
Grant Blankenship
Jonathan Bonner
Justin Brent
Kyle Brindza
Chris Brown
Jalen Brown
Greg Bryant
Devin Butler
Jimmy Byrne
Daniel Cage
Amir Carlisle
Austin Collinsworth
Ben Councell
Scott Daly
Sheldon Day
Michael Deeb
Steve Elmer
Matthias Farley
Tarean Folston
Everett Golson
Jarrett Grace
Conor Hanratty
Eilar Hardy
Mark Harrell
Jay Hayes
Matt Hegarty
Mike Heuerman
Kolin Hill
Corey Holmes
Chase Hounshell
Torii Hunter Jr.
Jarron Jones
DeShone Kizer



  1. johngaltisspeaking - Jul 19, 2014 at 3:32 PM

    fill in the blank…. major__________ talent

    • onward2victory - Jul 19, 2014 at 4:33 PM

      John G,

      1. You’re annoying

      2. You’re a troll

      3. I admire your persistence

      4. You’ve actually helped to make this long offseason entertaining. Kudos.

      5. Your strong presence here prompted me to google who John Galt actually is. Seems like an obscure reference…

      6. You’re still an idiot and won’t be missed when you get bored of stirring the pot.



      • standingdomer - Jul 19, 2014 at 11:10 PM

        agree with 1, 2 and 6. Ayn Rand is overrated… and misguided

  2. rossumnminor - Jul 20, 2014 at 12:28 AM

    Koyack NEEDS a productive year. Bottom line

  3. johngaltisspeaking - Jul 20, 2014 at 1:07 AM

    Christ, in terms of the Christian philosophy, is the human ideal. He personifies that which men should strive to emulate. Yet, according to the Christian mythology, he died on the cross not for his own sins but for the sins of the nonideal people. In other words, a man of perfect virtue was sacrificed for men who are vicious and who are expected or supposed to accept that sacrifice. If I were a Christian, nothing could make me more indignant than that: the notion of sacrificing the ideal to the nonideal, or virtue to vice. And it is in the name of that symbol that men are asked to sacrifice themselves for their inferiors. That is precisely how the symbolism is used.

    • sjb198 - Jul 20, 2014 at 5:16 AM

      Plagiarism at its finest. You are true SEC.

      • Keith Arnold - Jul 20, 2014 at 10:11 AM

        Are we moving into RobertG territory?

      • don74 - Jul 20, 2014 at 4:44 PM

        Getting close. Waiting for the numbered paragraphs to return and the secret plots…………..

    • notredameirish1980 - Jul 20, 2014 at 6:57 AM

      Not a philosophy or a myth, but a real person who you will meet one day as friend or foe.

      • johngaltisspeaking - Jul 20, 2014 at 12:48 PM

        So you say! Now am I suppose to write check ? Sounds like a timeshare presentation gone bad.

    • sharptux44 - Jul 20, 2014 at 8:37 AM

      If self sacrifice is your endgame to all this trolling, could you speed up this process? You’re as lame a dry wedding reception. We all get it, you hate the irish, the university and it’s fans.

    • 1historian - Jul 20, 2014 at 11:25 AM

      Thanks for the explanation.

      “In other words a man of perfect virtue was sacrificed for men who are vicious and who are expected or supposed to accept that sacrifice.” One way of putting it.

      That sacrifice is repeated every day throughout the world at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

      The last words the Priest and the congregation say before communion are “Lord I am not worthy that you should come under my roof but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”

      It’s a gift and none of us are worthy of it.

      FYI – I am a practicing Catholic

      • johngaltisspeaking - Jul 20, 2014 at 1:10 PM

        Look buddy I am a true Irish fan and my religious views do not make me any less of a fan. Religion is a great tool to keep ” the non thinkers ” in line as without religion it would be very difficult to keep the masses from doing the right thing. But the truth about religion is that its all about control and it is one of the largest business in this country. Organized religion today has moved further away from its original ideal and churches are filled with snake oil salesmen of all types . If it works for you great but to me its like sitting through a multi-level Amway presentation. The last time I visited a church sometime back in the 80’s there were many with closed eyes and bobbing heads who seemed to share my views of the church. My point is I do not judge based on religion. I could careless if you are part of the Walley mammoth religious cult or a christian/Buddha or Muslim / terrorists. Like I have always said Keep they Religion to yourself and we can all live peacefully. GO IRISH !

      • notredameirish1980 - Jul 20, 2014 at 2:21 PM

        Anyone who begins their remarks with “I am a true Irish fan” is not in my experience, and do not confuse a relationship with religion. I guess my PBK and AOA brain will just have to remain deluded.

      • jerseyshorendfan1 - Jul 20, 2014 at 2:22 PM

        I’m no biblical scholar but doesn’t the book of Revelation talk about the day when the beast, the maker of false promises will again walk the earth disguised as…………..some dude with a really bad screen name?

    • gbsk - Jul 21, 2014 at 2:37 PM

      Ayn Rand (John Galt) virtue was selfishness. Something Christ was the antithesis of. Something that does not work for team play either.

  4. nudeman - Jul 20, 2014 at 3:24 PM

    I probably shouldn’t weigh in on John Galt’s religion diatribe, but one thing he said I totally agree with.

    Today’s version of “religion” has veered far away from original roots. In particular I look at these mega churches that have sprung up ad nauseum in the last 30 years or so led by charlatans like Ted Haggard, Jim and Tammy Bakker, Jimmy Swaggert and Jerry Falwell. ALL of these people proved to be hypocrites who used religion as their tool to make a buck and gain power.

    I too am a practicing Catholic and feel it works for me. If someone is a practicing Lutheran, Muslim, Presbyterian, Judaism, etc and think they get peace and fulfillment from their beliefs, I salute them. And I salute non-believers as well, because the truth is none of us truly knows for sure why we’re here, who made us, and what awaits us after life. The bridge between not knowing and choosing to be a believer is called “faith”. I’m a believer but if someone chooses to say “I don’t buy it”, I’m fine with that. Where the world gets dangerous is where people and entire countries become dogmatic, completely ideological and intolerant of those who have a different set of beliefs. Yes Mideast, I’m talking about you.

    My brother just died. We were raised Catholic, we were altar boys and went to Catholic schools. At some point he turned away from the church and asked that at his memorial there be no biblical readings or mentions of Jesus. We (my sisters and I) are all fine with that. He was a gentle human being, never harmed a fly, had enormous life challenges (Aspergers) and we will honor his wishes.

    • johngaltisspeaking - Jul 20, 2014 at 3:43 PM

      Excellent post sir ! Religious, Atheist Agnostic it doesn’t matter. However the ones who try to push their beliefs on others and who think they have it all figured out are the ones who cause WARS and give religion a bad name. I dont judge anyone based on their faith and I don’t believe that I have it all figured out. At the end of the day nobody really knows. Many feel that the biggest war has yet to be fought Christianity and the Muslim world. I dont believe it will ever come to a war as if the Muslims stay the course they will soon turn America into a Muslim Nation. Religion is extremely powerful and makes people do some scary things. Many religious institutions are filled with hypocrites and charlatans. If anyone has visited the South its unbelievable to see how many churches are erected every month. Whats even more scary is to see what these people buy into. But again to each his own, I am passing on the religious band wagon for now.

      • nudeman - Jul 20, 2014 at 4:07 PM

        And there is a Christian faction that is almost as loathsome as the fanatical jihadist Muslins. The evangelicals in South are really disgusting. Not ALL evangelicals and not ALL southern Christians. But the hard core – and there are a LOT of them – might not fly jumbo jets into skyscrapers, but they blow up abortion clinics, shoot abortion doctors and are every bit a intolerant of “dissonant” beliefs.

        How do these people – the fanatical Muslims and the evangelical Christians – acquire such complete certitude? How do they become so intolerant? This is literally one of the worst things about the world we live in. How many people will die in Gaza, Israel and Afghanistan today? It’s tragic.

      • johngaltisspeaking - Jul 20, 2014 at 4:19 PM

        yes sir it’s scary…..

      • gbsk - Jul 21, 2014 at 2:47 PM

        Ayn Rand (John Galt) virtue was selfishness. Something Christ was the antithesis of. Something that does not work for team play likw football.either. You say it does not matter what religion, if any does not matter and I agree with that. However, you also seem to say that you do not like Muslims. Most Muslims are peaceful people. I agree with Nude on this issue.

      • johngaltisspeaking - Jul 21, 2014 at 7:25 PM

        They might be friendly and good people but they are going to go war with Christians. I dont care how you spin it the holy war is coming unless of course America doesn’t do anything and Christians will slowly be converted to Muslim. Maybe then you will not find them so peaceful and friendly. But Whatever another topic another day another board. I am talking Football. How about SOSO ?

    • onward2victory - Jul 21, 2014 at 4:52 AM

      Nude, a little post-modern relativism huh? Truth is whatever you believe it to be? I thought you were more of a contrarian than to have such trendy 21st century views.

  5. dudeacow - Jul 20, 2014 at 4:20 PM

    So far this board has exactly ONE post about football. Thank you for your dedication, rossumnminor.

    • johngaltisspeaking - Jul 20, 2014 at 4:24 PM

      sec talent that is my purpose in life..

  6. shortylongman - Jul 20, 2014 at 6:33 PM

    In the name of the father, and the son, and the holy Ben koyack

  7. shaunodame - Jul 20, 2014 at 10:28 PM

    Save the religion talk for church on Sunday gentlemen. This is a football message board

    • johngaltisspeaking - Jul 20, 2014 at 10:40 PM

      yes Obama

  8. 1historian - Jul 21, 2014 at 8:51 AM

    FYI – One out of every 5 people in this country receive their medical care at a Catholic Hospital.

    The Catholic Church teaches 3,000,000 students a day in more than 250 Catholic Colleges and universities, more than 1200 Catholic High Schools, and many grade schools.

    The Catholic Church feeds clothes shelters and educates more people than any other organization.

    Go Irish!!

    • johngaltisspeaking - Jul 21, 2014 at 10:44 AM

      so does the government what’s your point?

      • jerseyshorendfan1 - Jul 22, 2014 at 4:13 PM

        He’s saying that if we can cure all those sick people and let the kids out of school for the day, we may have enough people to combat the Muslim horde in the not too distant religious war.

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