Notre Dame fans, you can breathe a little easier. The Irish’s top returning threat in the passing game will have one more go in the shadows of Touchdown Jesus.
Confirming reports from earlier in the day, the Irish announced that tight end Tyler Eifert will remain in school for his senior year and not enter the 2012 NFL Draft. The junior was widely considered one of the top players at his position — if not the top — had he decided to leave early.
Instead, his return will help soften the blow of wide receiver Michael Floyd‘s departure due to expired eligibility.
“I didn’t come to Notre Dame just to help me get to the NFL,” Eifert said. “The value of the Notre Dame degree is so great, and since I am only two semesters away from graduating it would have been crazy for me to walk away now. Having the opportunity to go to the NFL will eventually be a bonus on an already great college experience.”
“I’m obviously very happy that Tyler will be part of our team next year,” head coach Brian Kelly said. “It’s always a good thing when an All-American decides he wants to spend another year in your program. Tyler is an exciting, athletic tight end who is an essential part of our offense. I’m happy he has decided to come back to finish his degree and help us to secure a championship season.”
Eifert finished second to Floyd in receptions (63), receiving yards (803) and receiving touchdowns (five) in 2011, and was named a first-team All-American by the Walter Camp Foundation and a second-teamer by the Associated Press.
He was the nation’s leader in catches and receiving yards at the TE position.
“This was a tough decision for me, but it came down to where do I want to be most next year,” Eifert said. “I have some great friends on the football team and at Notre Dame and I’m excited about the direction Coach Kelly has us going. Ultimately, the entire Notre Dame experience, including the great relationships I have with my teammates and coaches, told me Notre Dame is where I belong.”