SOUTH BEND, Ind. » Bowl preparation has began for Notre Dame juniors Manti Te’o and Tyler Eifert. Preparation for a not-too-distant future after that already was under way, too, as the Notre Dame standouts begin to sort out their stay-or-go options.
Each has filed paperwork to receive an evaluation from the NFL Advisory Committee, which offers underclassmen a generally conservative glimpse at how they are viewed in the eyes of the professionals. It’s a standard step toward an informed decision.
“It’s important that both of them get evaluated so they can see where they stand,” Irish coach Brian Kelly said after a practice earlier this week as the team gets ready for the Champs Sports Bowl. “But as far as it goes toward a decision, I think that’s only part of it.”
The 6-foot-6, 249-pound Eifert is a Mackey Award finalist who ESPN ranks as the fourth-best tight end and 55th-best available prospect. Still, Te’o likely will be the one doing the most wrestling with a decision to return for his senior season.
Te’o, a Punahou alumnus, led the Irish in tackles (113), tackles-for-loss (13) and sacks (4 1⁄2) and is the No. 13 overall prospect according to both ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. and ESPN Scouts, Inc. He’s also jockeying with Boston College’s Luke Kuechly and Arizona State’s Vontaze Burfict at a position generally not valued in the top half of the first round.
“I don’t want to speak for either one of those guys, but I think we all know why Manti is here,” Kelly said. “If Manti just wanted to go pro, he’d be somewhere else. He loves Notre Dame and he loves what it’s about. The same thing with Tyler. We’ll see where it goes. But this is the time we encourage them to get all the information and then make a decision.”