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Notre Dame

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Champs Sports Bowl
Notre Dame vs. Florida State
Records: Irish 8-4; No. 25 Seminoles 8-4
When: 5:30 p.m. Dec. 29
Where: Orlando, Fla. (Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium/65,438)
TV: ESPN

Irish’s Eifert eyes turning pro early

Dwenger grad weighing NFL options

Eifert

– Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert has a problem.

But it’s a good one.

The former Bishop Dwenger standout filed paperwork with the NFL Advisory Committee to be evaluated for the draft, leaving his future with the Irish (8-4) in question after they play No. 25 Florida State (8-4) in the Champs Sports Bowl on Dec. 29 in Orlando.

“I guess it’s a good problem to have,” Eifert said Saturday of the decision to stay or leave early. “I’ve kind of just been floating along, not wanting to pay attention to it until it’s time to start weighing your options and talking to people.”

Eifert’s decision will come nearly as quickly as his rise to NFL prospect.

The 6-foot-6, 249-pound junior is two years’ removed from surgery to repair a bulging disc in his back that threatened his career, and a year removed from taking over as a starter after Kyle Rudolph was lost to a season-ending injury midway through the 2010 season.

Eifert, who had 27 receptions for 352 yards with two touchdowns as sophomore, is the Irish’s second-leading receiver with 57 catches for 713 yards with five touchdowns this season.

“You just have to be ready when your number is called, I guess,” Eifert said. “It goes a lot to (coach Brian Kelly) with the ‘next-man-in’ philosophy and preparing not just you first-team players but having your second-team guys ready to go.”

Eifert will have plenty of help to prepare for his NFL decision.

Along with Kelly, Eifert said he will rely on the input of director of player personnel Tim McDonnell, who helped him prepare his NFL paperwork that included game film from his performances against Pittsburgh and USC this season and two other games.

Eifert will also have his parents, Greg and Julie, to lean on for advice. Greg Eifert played basketball at Purdue from 1981 to ’84, but the idea of going pro is new to him.

“I’ve told him I understood the recruiting and going through all of that in high school and playing college ball,” Greg Eifert said. “To get to this level, this is all new to us. We are all learning as we go about this whole process.”

The Eiferts are getting help from one of Greg’s former Purdue teammates, Roosevelt Barnes.

Barnes is a sports agent with his partner Eugene Parker, another former Purdue athlete, and the two have been able to talk to the family since Dec. 1.

Greg Eifert said the agents said to wait until after Tyler receives his NFL evaluation and all the pros and cons are weighed before thinking about making a decision.

“I’ve told him, and so has Julie, that he is in a position where he can’t make a wrong decision,” Greg Eifert said. “It’s a good position to be in. You don’t get to make too many decisions like this where one is right and the other one is right.”

tkrausz@jg.net

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