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Irish Insights

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Eifert ready to go

Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert will be ready to compete for playing time when spring practice opens Friday, according to coach Brian Kelly.

Kelly, who was the speaker at the Gridiron Legends luncheon series Tuesday, said the former Bishop Dwenger standout is doing a great job.

Eifert's freshman season was cut short by a bulging disc in his back. He appeared in one game last season, the season-opening win over Nevada.

"I think they've solved the back problem with him," Kelly said. "He's long, he's athletic, he provides us with the kind of tight end we are looking for. He's done a great job of bouncing back."

More from Kelly

On quarterback Dayne Crist, who tore his ACL against Washington State last season: "We'd be really close to playing with him. Obviously, we are going to be smart. He'll play all our 7-on-7 routines (in spring practice), he'll be in all of our one-on-ones. We'll put a big funnel around him and make sure no one gets near him. He's got to get out there and take snaps. He's got to learn the offense and earn the starting job. He's done a great job of putting himself in a position to do that."

On counting on quarterback Nate Montana to push Crist, which makes it sound like former Dwenger star John Goodman will be staying at receiver for the Irish during spring practice: "We gotta rely on Montana to really compete with Crist. He's got some experience. He bounced around a little bit. He understands what he needs to be. He's caught our eye a little bit. He's going to have to come through for us."

On Theo Riddick, who is moving from running back to slot receiver: "The guy who has the biggest limitation right now is Theo Riddick. He is 10 ½ weeks post on his surgery for his shoulder. We have to protect him a little bit, but we have to get him out there as well."

On why Riddick was moved to receiver: "I mentioned how important it is to get your playmakers on the field. We also had to open up space for Cierre Wood. Here's a guy that was sitting fourth on the depth chart with two seniors, it was going to be hard to get him on the field. We need to get him on the field as well. Moving Theo, we believe that he's got the ability to catch the football at the line of scrimmage and make big plays for us. It gets Cierre Wood now into the football game. I think that has a double-prong effect that it gets both of those guys onto the field."

On other position moves: "We moved Lane Clelland over to defense, he was an offensive lineman. We needed some more size and strength. (Clelland will play defensive end.) We moved Steve Paskorz, who was a fullback, to inside linebacker to give us bigger, stronger, more physical players. I think that we all saw that we needed to stop the run last year, and we needed to get bigger. We couldn't do it through recruiting; we needed to do through players on our roster."

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