ND Football: Niklas, Koyack excited for big roles with Eifert off to NFL

Notre Dame tight ends caught 60 passes in 2012. 50 of those receptions were courtesy of Tyler Eifert, who on Monday signed a 4-year, $8 million dollar contract with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Less than 50 days away from the start of the 2013 season, the Irish will need to find a way to replace those 50 catches.

Troy Niklas is the likely go to go guy out of the gate. Niklas converted from linebacker to tight end before the 2012 season, serving as Eifert's primary backup. Niklas caught seven passes and one touchdown last year. Now he's excited for a bigger role.

"I put in a hard spring and hard summer so far," Niklas explained this week. "Working really hard to develop my craft and to show everyone how hard I've been working. Hopefully all that hard work pays off on the field for our team."

The only other tight end to make a catch in 2012 was Ben Koyack, who had three receptions.

"Everyone wants to be able to make as much of an impact as possible," Koyack says. "I'm really ready to show I can do a little bit of work as well. I'm feeling a lot stronger, feeling a lot faster. I've been doing a lot of work in the weight room this summer. I think I'll be ready to go when the time comes."

Alex Welch, who missed all of 2012 due to injury and freshman Mike Heuerman will also be in the mix.

"We're looking to have a great season," Niklas said. "I'm really happy about everything."

The Irish open up fall camp in less than three weeks.

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