John Mackey Award (top tight end)
Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame
Zack Ertz, Stanford
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington
FORT WAYNE — Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert has a second chance to be named college football’s top tight end this morning.
The Bishop Dwenger graduate is a finalist for the John Mackey Award, which will be awarded to college’s most outstanding tight end at 10 a.m. today.
Eifert was a finalist for the award that went to Clemson’s 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.
Eifert’s 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 Eifert’s 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 he’s broke that mold,” Kelly said. “He lined up as a wide receiver. He’s 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 don’t care about how many balls he caught because they know he can catch the football. They’re looking at other things that he’s developed. He’s going to find himself in a pretty good position in April.”
Eifert became Notre Dame’s all-time leader in receptions by a tight end with 134, breaking Ken MacAfee’s 35-year-old record (128), and he broke MacAfee’s 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 Stanford’s Zach Ertz and Washington’s 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).