Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Notre Dame Football Position Preview: Tight End

Previously Covered
Halfback and Fullback
Wide Receiver

Spotlight: Mike Ragone


Also Returning: Kyle Rudolph
Lost: Kevin Brooks, Paul Kuppich, Luke Schmidt (graduation), Will Yeatman, Joseph Fauria (transfer)
Gained: Bobby Burger (walk-on), Tyler Eifert, Jake Golic (freshmen)

Nothing says "attrition" like the tight end position at Notre Dame. Just think how bad it would be if Notre Dame didn't have two starting tight ends in the NFL right now.

Fortunately, Mike Ragone's return from a knee injury will bring much-needed depth and experience to the position. Ragone is in the spotlight here, but Notre Dame fans will probably prefer it if opponents didn't pay attention to him. His main responsibility will be staying home as a pass blocker, freeing Kyle Rudolph to do damage as a receiver.

But speaking of Kyle Rudolph, don't count him out as a pass blocker. The sophomore has bulked up to 260 pounds, which should mean no more getting pushed around by linebackers on running plays. It's just one more step for Rudolph on his path to joining Anthony Fasano and John Carlson on Sundays.

Tyler Eifert and Jake Golic join the squad as freshman, and ideally they'll spend the year in the weight room (and the dining halls) to add bulk and preserve a year of eligibility. But to keep Eifert and Golic off the field, Notre Dame will have to look at other options in short yardage situations. That could mean using extra offensive linemen as the Irish did in 2008, or it could mean turning to walk-on fullback/tight end Bobby Burger.

Even if he doesn't see the field, Burger is still an interesting story. Originally a defensive end at Dayton, he transferred to Notre Dame in the summer of 2008 but didn't plan to play football for the Irish - despite the fact his father was a guard for ND during the Devine years. One year and a position change later, Burger joins the team as an H-Back. Oh, and playing football for the Irish isn't the only way Bobby plans to follow in the older Burger's footsteps - he also plans to become a medical doctor just like his dad.