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Thursday, December 8, 2011
Regular-season report card: Tight ends

By Matt Fortuna

The regular season is over and the end of the semester has arrived. Here, we grade Notre Dame's 2011 campaign by position. Part seven of the 10-part series brings us to the tight ends.

TIGHT ENDS

Grade: A-

Summary: There's a reason Tyler Eifert is one of three finalists for the Mackey Award, which will be given Thursday night to the nation's top tight end. To read my endorsement for Eifert, click here.

A quick look at the numbers: 57 catches, 713 receiving yards, five touchdowns. He was Notre Dame's best pass-catcher not named Michael Floyd this season, and he had more catches than any other FBS tight end. Time after time he would make defenses pay over the middle on third down, and he and Tommy Rees certainly developed a nice rapport.

Fifth-year senior Mike Ragone, an excellent blocker, tore an ACL and missed much of the season, leading to a youth movement behind Eifert, the only thing keeping this unit from a perfect grade.

Backups: Sophomore Alex Welch and freshman Ben Koyack each had one reception and saw extensive time in Ragone's absence. However, much more will be expected of them next year if Eifert decides to move on to the NFL, which is a possibility after his strong junior year.

Previous report cards:

Quarterbacks
Defensive line
Offensive line
Linebackers
Running backs
Wide receivers