FORT WAYNE – Notre Dames Tyler Eifert has a second chance to be named college footballs top tight end this morning.
The Bishop Dwenger graduate is a finalist for the John Mackey Award, which will be awarded to colleges most outstanding tight end at 10 a.m. today.
Eifert was a finalist for the award that went to Clemsons Dwayne Allen last year after the 6-foot-6, 251-pound Irish senior led all tight ends with 63 receptions and 803 yards. He had five touchdown receptions and set the school record for receptions and receiving yards by a tight end in 2011.
Eiferts statistics dipped this season as he became a focus for opposing defenses and Notre Dame broke in first-year starting quarter Everett Golson. The No. 1 Irish (12-0) play No. 2 Alabama (12-1) in the BCS championship game Jan. 7 in Miami.
Eifert still led the team in receptions (44) and receiving yards (624) and tied receiver TJ Jones for the most touchdown receptions (4).
Coach Brian Kelly said Eiferts contributions to the team went beyond his offensive numbers.
Sometimes at the tight end position you get labeled as either a pass catcher or a run blocker, and hes broke that mold, Kelly said. He lined up as a wide receiver. Hes lined up attached as a run blocker and a pass protector, because we all knew one thing that he had. He could catch the football.
So if you asked the guys at the next level about Tyler Eifert, they really dont care about how many balls he caught because they know he can catch the football. Theyre looking at other things that hes developed. Hes going to find himself in a pretty good position in April.
Eifert became Notre Dames all-time leader in receptions by a tight end with 134, breaking Ken MacAfees 35-year-old record (128), and he broke MacAfees record for most receiving yards by a tight end with 1,779 yards this season. MacAfee had 1,760 career receiving yards.
Eifert is competing with Stanfords Zach Ertz and Washingtons Austin Seferian-Jenkins for the Mackey Award
Ertz, a 6-6, 252-pound senior, led Stanford in receptions (66), receiving yards (837) and receiving touchdowns (6).
Seferian-Jenkins, a 6-6, 266-pound sophomore, led Washington with 789 receiving yards and was tied for first in touchdown receptions (6) with receiver Kasen Williams. He was second on the team in receptions (63).