State of the Irish will be a nine-piece miniseries, analyzing Notre Dame football from top to bottom while also predicting what's ahead for the team.
No. 9 Kyle Rudolph, Sophomore (6'6, 260)
True freshman do not start at tight end their first year in college football.
Rudolph became the exception to this rule last year, forced to start for the Irish after transfers from Konrad Reuland (Stanford) and Will Yeatman (Maryland).
Coming out of Cincinnati as the No. 1 tight end recruit, Rudolph lived up to expectations last year setting record stats for a Notre Dame freshman tight end, while also being named to the Freshman All-American team.
In 2009, Rudolph is expected to match his performance from last year.. and then some. After a year of experience under his belt, his run blocking and strength should be much improved after the offseason.
If the Cover 2 focuses on Floyd and Tate, Rudolph will be found roaming the middle of the field wide-open and could be a lethal target for Clausen this year.
Rudolph has been dubbed the next elite tight end following Anthony Fasano and John Carlson. With three more years left to make his mark, Rudolph could leave Notre Dame as one of the best tight ends in the history of the program.
No. 83 Mike Ragone, RS-Junior (6'5, 251)
Before Rudolph, there was Ragone.
In 2007, he displayed his solid blocking skills and promise at the tight end position behind Carlson.
Before the start of 2008, he went down with a knee injury that required season-ending surgery. He has recently found his way back onto the field and able to practice, but Weis has made it known that Ragone is still trying to gain his confidence back in the knee.
With the recent transfer of Joesph Fauria (UCLA), Ragone's health is now an even bigger question mark. If he can return to form and provide quality minutes as the No. 2 tight end, the position will consist of little concern.
However, if Ragone is unable to man the No. 2 position, the Irish must turn to three inexperienced tight ends behind him.
Notre Dame needs a healthy Mike Ragone.
No. 86 Bobby Burger, Senior-Transfer (6'3, 248)
The son of former defensive end Bob Burger ('80), Bobby decided to take a chance and try his luck at his dream school.
A walk-on transfer from Dayton, where he played defensive end contributing 22 tackles and eight sacks, Burger has been making a name for himself this Fall.
In almost every Weis presser, you can hear him praising Burger and how difficult it will be to keep the transfer off of the field this year.
Burger is a hard-working, intelligent kid that seems to fit the mold of the player that Weis wants on his roster (think: Mike Anello.)
Having kids like this only adds to the hard-nosed mentality that fans have been desiring.
Although he played on defense previously, Burger has a nice frame for a tight end and will be welcomed with open arms to a unit in need of bodies.
No. 80 Tyler Eifert, Freshman (6'5, 237)
Watching the H.S highlight tapes of Eifert, one would think that he would be best suited for receiver.
After grabbing Eifert out of Notre Dame's backyard, Weis said that he is a versatile talent that could line up either at tight end or receiver, but will start as a tight end. Considering the numbers at tight end, this was the most logical position for Eifert.
Eifert will need to spend a year or two in the weight room in order to get his frame in par with his receiving abilities.
When his time as an upperclassmen does come, and he looks the part of a tight end, Eifert is going to be another threat for the Irish signal-callers.
No. 88 Jake Golic, Freshman (6'4, 232)
Yes...another Golic. This time, in the form of a tight end.
The first commit of the 2009 recruiting class, Golic was not a touted prospect coming out of high school and most critics complained that he only received an offer because of his legacy name.
The youngest Golic should take this as a personal challenge to make a name for himself, and will make for an interesting story to follow over the next four or five years.
Golic will need a few years in the weight room like his fellow classmate, but don't be surprised to see his name being called in the future.
After all...he has some good, Domer blood in him.
Next State of the Irish: Defensive Line