ND tight end Tyler Eifert's final season paying off big time

2012-12-11T19:15:00Z 2012-12-12T01:53:04Z ND tight end Tyler Eifert's final season paying off big timeTYLER JAMES South Bend Tribune
December 11, 2012 7:15 pm  • 

SOUTH BEND | Tyler Eifert had every right to feel like a celebrity.

He had just spent the day with some of the best college football players in the country at the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

He was given the Mackey Award for the nation’s top tight end on a red carpet show before ESPN’s College Football Awards Show.

Then the next morning, 2012 Masters champion Bubba Watson sent Eifert a congratulatory tweet: “congrats on your year & the Mackey Award.”

Eifert’s prowess on the golf course has been well documented — notably driving the ball more than 300 yards — but the tweet from Watson came as a total surprise.

“That was pretty cool. Maybe he knows I play golf,” Eifert said. “I tweeted at him before. It was pretty awesome.”

So is a future round in the works?

“Hopefully. That would be unreal,” Eifert said.

Some might use "unreal" to describe Eifert’s career at Notre Dame, which consists of just one more game -- the BCS Championship against Alabama.

He returned for a fourth year after flirting with the NFL draft following a junior year that included 63 catches for 803 yards and five touchdowns. He set an ND record for single-season receptions by a tight end.

Eifert surpassed the top three pass-catching tight ends in Irish history: Anthony Fasano (92), John Carlson (100) and Ken McAfee (128).

His 44 catches this season give Eifert 134 total in a Notre Dame uniform.

“I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet. It means a lot,” Eifert said. “I’m just grateful to be able to be mentioned with some of the greats here. I came here just trying to get on the bus and do anything I could to help the team win.

"To be where I am now, I feel pretty lucky.”

He was able to travel to Florida without worrying too much about beating Alabama, except when he and Crimson Tide cornerback Dee Milliner started an impromptu push-up competition (no word on who won).

But catching passes and clearing lanes for running backs weren’t the only reasons Eifert returned to Notre Dame.

He’s also contributing his share in keeping ND’s football program at the top for best graduation rate.

His course load of four classes this semester is coming to a close right before the Irish rev up preparation for the national championship game.

Eifert said the stress of class hasn’t been too bad his senior year with his class list including Management Competencies, Business Problem Solving, Leadership and Motivation, and Project Management.

“They do such a good job with the summer classes,” Eifert said. “We get ahead and we stay on track.”

His favorite class this semester has been Business Problem Solving, taught by Chris Stevens, a 1974 graduate who was a member of the four-man team that developed the Keurig Premium Coffee Systems.

“He’s been in the business. He was an athlete here,” Eifert said. “He can really relate to the students and he cares about us so much. He made it easy to learn.”

If the Irish have any luck, Eifert will be able to brew up one more strong performance before heading to the NFL.

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