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April 25, 2013Tyler Eifert already owned a few pieces of Notre Dame history.
On Thursday night the All-American added another to his resume.
When the Cincinnati Bengals selected Notre Dame's all-time leader in catches and yardage for tight ends at No. 21 overall, it made Eifert the first Irish tight end to go in the first round in two decades.
"No, I wasn't surprised," Eifert told Cincinnati media. "I was told all along that there is no way to tell where you're going to go or who you're going to go to so I was just staying positive throughout the whole thing and trying to enjoy it. I'm happy to be a part of the organization and for the opportunity."
Notre Dame's first Mackey Award winner builds on the program's recent tradition of producing NFL tight end talent, following second-round picks Kyle Rudolph, John Carlson and Anthony Fasano.
"This is such an exciting time for Tyler and his family," Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said in a statement. "He was faced with a difficult decision following his junior season whether or not to return to school. Tyler returned for his senior season and that decision was rewarded today. He proved to be the best tight end in college football, solidified himself as a first-round draft pick and, most importantly, earned his degree from the University of Notre Dame."
Instead of making the trip to New York City to attend the draft at Radio City Music Hall, Eifert stayed home in Fort Wayne to watch it with teammates, family and friends. That group included Dan Fox, Zack Martin and Christian Lombard.
Eifert will reunite with former teammate Trevor Robinson in Cincinnati, where the former Irish guard started at center for the Bengals last season. Eifert will also join a roster with tight end Jermaine Gresham, who was picked at the same No. 21 slot three years ago by the Bengals. Gresham made the last two Pro Bowls.
"I think we're very similar players," said Eifert of Gresham. "Our ability to create mismatches and get down the field and put our hand in the dirt and block. I'm excited for the opportunity to play next to him."
Eifert closed his Notre Dame career as the position's all-time leader for receptions (140) and yardage (1,840) to go with 11 touchdowns. He started every game for the Irish the last two seasons.
"I really feel he is a player who is going to add a lot to our team," said head coach Marvin Lewis, who spoke at the Notre Dame Coaches Clinic this month. "He complements Jermaine, has ability to move around."
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