2013 NFL Draft: Notre Dame TE Tyler Eifert set to enter pros

Notre Dame Fighting Irish tight end Tyler Eifert (80) catches a pass against Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix (6) during the first half of the 2013 BCS Championship game at Sun Life Stadium. (Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports)

Notre Dame’s 2013 BCS National Championship game loss to Alabama was Tyler Eifert’s last as the star tight end for the Fighting Irish. The junior has officially decided to forgo his senior year of school to pursue his dream of playing professional football, according to a report by IrishIllustrated.com.

“It was tough,” said Eifert, who caught six passes for 61 yards on Monday. “Taking off that Notre Dame jersey and helmet for the last time was emotional. It’s going to be tough to leave.”

At 6-foot-5 and 252 pounds with great hands and speed, Eifert is the No. 1-rated tight end entering the NFL Draft. Further, ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper has Eifert listed as the No. 17-overall player on his big board, making him a potential first-round pick.

In the last few years, Notre Dame has had a trio of tight ends selected in the second round in Anthony Fasano, John Carlson and Kyle Rudolph. However, the Irish have not had a tight end taken in the prestigious first round since Irv Smith was selected 20th-overall by the New Orleans Saints back in 1993.

Depending on the positional needs of the teams selecting, Eifert could break through. He led the Irish in receiving in 2012 with 50 catches for 685 yards and four touchdowns.

He leaves Notre Dame with 140 catches for 1,840 yards and 11 scores, holding numerous school records by a tight end.

Check out a gallery of the fans who made the BCS National Championship game so special