FORT WAYNE — Tyler Eifert didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about the NFL as he was becoming the most productive receiving tight end in Notre Dame history.
The former Bishop Dwenger standout always wanted to play in the NFL, but he thought it was too much of a long shot to spend much time dreaming about it.
“I just never really thought I would have the chance to do that,” Eifert said during a phone interview last week.
Eifert is no long shot to play in the NFL, and the projected first-round draft pick is making sure he is doing everything he can to prepare for a professional career.
The 6-foot-6, 251-pounder is training along side other top NFL prospects, including Notre Dame teammate Manti Te’o, at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., as he prepares for the draft combine, which will be held Feb. 20-26 in Indianapolis.
“They are the best in the business. I built a good relationship with them and trusted them, and their résumé speaks for itself,” said Eifert, who declined to discuss how Te’o is doing since it was revealed that the linebacker was the victim of a hoax in which he believed he had a relationship with a woman who never existed.
Eifert, who set the Notre Dame record for receptions (140) and yards (1,840) by a tight end, is putting in near 12-hour days at IMG.
He said his days begin at 6:30 a.m. with breakfast and then the training group works in the classroom to be ready for the interview process for when the players meet with teams at the combine.
Players then do speed work and football specific drills before breaking for lunch, and after a recovery period, they lift weights with the day wrapping up about 6 p.m. with dinner.
“It’s pretty hectic,” Eifert said. “It’s a lot of new stuff. It’s all geared for the combine. All of it is pretty important.”
Physically, Eifert is working on being more explosive and concentrating on keeping his hips strong and flexible. He said the trainers video the workouts to help point out what players need to improve.
“It is mental stuff to try and eliminated hundredths of a second here and hundredths of a second there,” Eifert said. “It’s come pretty naturally. It’s a lot of teaching and a lot of learning, some times you get stuck thinking about it too much instead of just letting it happen.”
As for the interview process, Eifert said they play games to help players learn to think on their feet and handle awkward situations.
“At the combine, they will ask you pretty much anything,” Eifert said. “You got to be ready for that.”
Eifert is not sweating the combine though, nor is he worrying about what the interview process has in store for him.
“I don’t think of the big picture like that,” said Eifert, who hasn’t decided what drills he will and will not participate in at the combine. “It puts a lot of pressure on someone. I just take it day by day and try to get better at what I wasn’t good at the day before. I try to learn as much as possible so I can be the best I can be when that day does come.”
Eifert’s day to become an NFL player is coming soon. The draft will be held April 25-27.
Eifert said he would like to be at home with family and friends when the draft is held, but he hasn’t finalized any plans. He also doesn’t have a team in mind that he would like to be selected by in the draft.
“I’m happy to go wherever they will take me,” Eifert said. “I will try to help out as much as I can.”