SOUTH BEND – It was after John Goodman cleanly snapped up the last pass of a speed drill when Tyler Eifert gave him one of those casual hand slaps that friends do instinctively; a silent gesture that says, Way to go.
Unless there will be an early spring pickup game on the hallowed greenery of Notre Dame Stadium, or in the indoor Loftus Center, where Notre Dame’s pro day was conducted, Tuesday might have been the final occasion that the two former Bishop Dwenger and Notre Dame teammates would ever share a football field.
There could be an exception, though.
While the 6-foot-5, 250-pound Eifert, the Irish’s all-time tight end receptions leader, is a projected first-round pick in next month’s NFL draft, Goodman, a 6-3, 215-pound wide receiver, hoped to catch the eye and the interest of several NFL scouts who came to evaluate 13 Notre Dame hopefuls. Among them was linebacker Manti Te’o.
The uniform of the day was tank tops and shorts for players, and notepads and stopwatches for the several NFL scouts who were allowed on the field for shuttle drills and the 40-yard dashes.
Eifert, who posted the fastest 40 time for tight ends at last month’s NFL combine in Indianapolis, chose not to run. He did some line-technique drills but mostly ran routes and caught passes Tuesday.
It was a relief, Eifert said of having a quality 40-yard dash time posted (4.68). I don’t know how I looked on the outside (at the combine), but it was a stressful period. You got a lot on the line there. I was happy I got it over; I could just focus on more football-specific drills, getting ready for pro day, which is what I’ve grown up doing instead of all this sprinter (stuff); getting ready for a track meet.
Goodman ran the 40 and wasn’t sure of his time when the nearly two-hour workouts ended.
Te’o also ran the 40. And unlike Eifert, he had everything to prove.
It was at the combine where Te’o clocked a disappointing 4.82 in the 40. Tuesday, the best of his two runs was a reported 4.69.
I expected to run faster than I did at the combine, and that’s exactly what I did, said Te’o, who briefly addressed the issue of the fake girlfriend hoax by saying: I’m a football player. I made mistakes, but nothing that affected me out there on the football field.
Te’o said his speed was better because he was in a familiar surrounding.
I felt good, he said. I’m in a place where I’m comfortable, joined by people that I know. I thought I did pretty good. I’m very pleased with the way I performed – very pleased with the way we all performed, as a whole. I thought we represented Notre Dame the way we should.
Despite the attention given to Tuesday’s workouts – complete with small, orange cones and electronic timing devices – Eifert said his career should speak for itself.
At the end of the day it is your (game) film that really matters, he said. I feel I’ve been doing this for a while, so it takes some of the pressure off. It’s not make-or-break if you don’t do well at the combine or pro day. You’ve shown what you can do on tape, and that’s what really matters.
Also what matters is the emphasis NFL teams have recently placed on pass-catching tight ends. And Eifert has noticed.
I’m thankful for the guys that have played before me – (New England’s Rob) Gronkowski, (New Orleans’) Jimmy Graham, (Minnesota’s) Kyle Rudolph to kind of set that stage. It’s a good time to be a tight end – the kind of tight end that I am. I just feel lucky to be coming in when I am.
Eifert also took the time to kill the rumor of a rivalry between him and Stanford tight end, Zach Ertz, who is also considered a first-round selection.
I want to be the first tight end taken, Eifert said. I think it’s kind of silly it’s become a rivalry. I saw (Ertz) at the combine. He was a cool dude. We hung out the whole time. I’m doing everything I can to be the first tight end taken, and that’s what I hope to be.
For Goodman, though, he hopes someone took notice Tuesday. Now it’s all about waiting to hear if any team is interested.
I’m kind of used to waiting because I waited for the national championship; I’ve waited for this for so long, he said. I’m going to relax. I’m going to get my body right and hopefully I can get some workouts with teams.