Notre Dame Football: What the Return of Tyler Eifert Means for Fighting Irish

Connor KillorenSenior Analyst IJanuary 6, 2012

SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 22: Nick Perry #8 of the University of Southern California Trojans brings down Tyler Eifert #80 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Notre Dame Stadium on October 22, 2011 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

It seems as if Tyler Eifert is continuing the newfound trend in college football of players returning for their senior seasons rather than diving into the NFL draft.

On Friday, the 6-foot-6, 249-pound tight end made the decision to return to school for the 2012 season. Eifert technically has two seasons of eligibility remaining at Notre Dame, but it's highly likely that he'll be entering the 2013 NFL draft.

Scott Wright of believes that Eifert made a wise decision:

“I think it was a smart decision on his part. I think the best case was that he would have been a second-round pick this year, and third round was very possible. I think that’s what the league told him, third round. He’ll probably enter next year as the top-rated draft-eligible tight end, going somewhere in the first round in the 20 to 32 range."

Wright's prognostication that Eifert will be the first tight end taken in next season's draft is likely to become true, Dwayne Allen of Clemson and Orson Charles of Georgia are likely to enter this spring's draft.

The potential decisions of those two players to dive into the NFL would no doubt make Eifert the nation's best tight end.

His decision to return to school will also pay dividends for the Notre Dame offense.

Newly named offensive coordinator Chuck Martin, a disciple of Brian Kelly's spread offense, will be splitting Eifert wide, and using him in multiple formations in order to create mismatches in Notre Dame's favor.

Eifert's speed and quickness are hard to find in a player of his size, which makes him such a crucial part of what the Irish do on offense.

That's no secret, as Eifert set Notre Dame single-season records for receptions (63) and receiving yards (803) by a tight end.

His presence in the Irish offense will be a significant benefit for Tommy Rees, Andrew Hendrix or Everett Golson next season. If anything, Eifert will make life a bit easier for whoever Kelly names as starting quarterback.

As you can see, Eifert's decision was a beneficial one all around.