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Eifert and Goodman look back on the year

Fort Wayne products Tyler Eifert and John Goodman both had sit-downs with their hometown paper and the News-Sentinel‘s Tom Davis did a nice job capturing what important seasons both athletes had for the Irish.

The entire articles on Eifert and Goodman are well worth the reads, but Davis got a few great quotes out of the duo, who both made solid contributions to the Irish this season.

Here are a few snippets:

It has been quite the football season for Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert – a journey that he terms “bizarre.”

A year ago, Eifert was an injured (back) freshman tight end who wasn’t allowed to play. This season, the Bishop Dwenger graduate not only played, but starred for the Fighting Irish (7-5).

“I think it is so bizarre that it really doesn’t hit you until maybe later looking back on it,” Eifert said in reflecting on his rise to stardom. “I’m just living in the present and enjoying the experience.”

Entering training camp in August, every football fan (including many NFL scouts) was very aware of Notre Dame All-American candidate Kyle Rudolph. The junior tight end was ranked among the best football players – regardless of position – in the country. Eifert was simply in a mix of players vying to be Rudolph’s back-up. But Eifert’s evolution as a player began to show in August camp.

“To be honest, no,” Eifert said of envisioning a prominent role this fall. “I viewed (Rudolph) as the number one guy and I’d play sparingly.”

First-year coach Brian Kelly took notice early that Eifert was outplaying seniors Bobby Burger and Mike Ragone and that the sophomore would be a quality back-up to Rudolph.

“Going from thinking that you aren’t even going to play to catching touchdowns is (weird),” Eifert said. “A lot has happened in the past year.”

And here’s Goodman on where he’s been and what he hopes for next year’s receiving corp.

Goodman finished the season tied with Toma for fifth on the squad in receptions and saw his production this season more than double from six receptions to 14 since his sophomore season. With the lone senior receiver on the current two-deep depth chart being Kamara, touches will be sparse again next season. And that is fine with Goodman.

“I hope that all of the competition keeps up,” Goodman said.

“That’s what this team needs to be good in the future.”

Leading the Irish receiving corps is All-American candidate Michael Floyd. The junior is contemplating making himself eligible for the 2011 NFL Draft, which would certainly open up pass-catching opportunities for Goodman.

“Progressively, I’ve gotten better and better,” Goodman said. “But when you’ve got Mike Floyd in front of you, there’s not too much you can do.”

So having said that, would Goodman like to see Floyd play on Sundays as opposed to Saturdays in 2011?

“I would love to have Mike back (in 2011),” Goodman said. “He’s one of my best friends and one of the best receivers in the country. So why not want him back? I’d much rather him be back than me go in and produce less. Which I’m not saying that I would do that. It’s definitely (about) the team. If (tight end) Kyle (Rudolph) goes pro or Mike goes pro, then good for them. But I would definitely like for them to stay.”

Eifert has to be one of the great surprises on the team, especially considering how serious his back injury was last year. I’ll be the first to admit he was an afterthought for me, and after reading Eifert’s quotes, playing time sounded a bit like an afterthought for him as well.

Goodman’s season didn’t take off this year as well as many expected, but his contributions in the punt return game have been solid and he’s done his job. Both Fort Wayne products will be a large part of next season’s team, regardless of whether or not Rudolph and Floyd return.