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No replacing Eifert

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Notre Dame tight end and former Bishop Dwenger standout Tyler Eifert could be playing his last college game when the No. 1 Irish (12-0) take on No. 2 Alabama (12-1) in the BCS championship game.

Eifert, who played in one game as a freshman before a back injury sidelined him for the season, could come back for a fifth year. But with his degree already in hand and a likely selection in either the first or second round of the NFL draft, Eifert is likely done and the Mackey Award winner will be missed.

"There's no heir apparent to what Tyler can do in the pass game for us," offensive coordinator Chuck Martin said. "Even yesterday we threw three or four balls that I actually stopped, looked away because I knew they were incomplete passes, and then heard somebody yell, 'Great catch, Tyler!' I'm like, 'He caught that one?'

"His ability to run and catch and his target being so tall is obviously … you're not going to replace it. But (backup tight end) Troy (Niklas) has done a great job. He's really been our starting tight end because we move Tyler all over the place and done an unbelievable job blocking. Our offensive line has gotten a lot of credit for our run game along with our backs, but our tight ends are huge. Tyler has done a great job blocking, and Troy has done a great job blocking, too.

"It's harder to get to him this year because he is he's our go-to guy. When everybody was doubling (Michael) Floyd, you've got some favorable matchups with Eifert, and now he is Floyd."