SOUTH BEND – Tyler Eifert matched Notre Dame’s record for most receptions by a tight end by coming down with one of his signature jump-ball receptions for 38 yards in the second quarter against Wake Forest.
Eifert broke Ken MacAfee’s 35-year-old record with a 15-yard catch as understated as the 6-foot-6, 251-pound Bishop Dwenger graduate, but it was a record he wanted as the No. 3 Irish (11-0) closed their home schedule with a 38-0 win over the Demon Deacons (5-6) on Saturday.
I was really happy to have (the record), but just happy that I don’t have to think about it any more, said Eifert, who had six receptions for 85 yards and scored on a 2-yard catch in the win. You can say what you want and not think about it, but you know right where you are.
Coach (Brian) Kelly said, If you drop this, we are not throwing to you the rest of the game.’ So I made sure I caught it.
Eifert has 130 receptions in his career and he will have two more games to add to his record as Notre Dame goes to USC to close the season on Saturday and then will play in a bowl game.
In Tyler, in looking at what he has done, the career receptions, that is amazing, said receiver John Goodman, who played with Eifert at Dwenger.
Eifert almost wasn’t on the Irish team coming out of Dwenger.
He was recruited late in the process, and former coach Charlie Weis made room for him in the recruiting class four years ago. Then Eifert’s career was threatened by a bulging disc in his back as freshman that limited him to only playing in the 2009 season opener.
But a procedure relieved Eifert’s back pain, and after Kyle Rudolph was lost to an injury during the 2010 season, Eifert thrived as his replacement. He caught 27 passes for 352 yards with two touchdowns that season.
Eifert put together an All-American season last year with 63 receptions for 803 yards with five touchdowns and decided to return for his senior season instead of jumping to the NFL.
He has 40 catches for 555 yards with four touchdowns this season and enters the regular-season finale needing 49 yards to pass MacAfee’s school record 1,759 receiving yards by a tight end.
To break the kind of records with the great tight ends that have been here at Notre Dame is an amazing feat, coach Brian Kelly said. I think it’s a combination of a guy that understands Notre Dame, understands the value of a great education, and wanted to be on a championship football team. I think he epitomizes in terms of what we look for as a Notre Dame football player.