Niklas named Mackey semifinalist

Troy Niklas received some validation for his breakout season Monday, as the junior was named one of eight semifinalists for the John Mackey Award, given to the nation's top tight end.

Former Notre Dame tight end and eventual first-round NFL Draft pick Tyler Eifert won the award last season, and was a finalist in 2011.

Niklas, who played linebacker as a freshman in 2011, ranks third on the Irish in both catches (25) and receiving yards (390), and is tied for second with five receiving touchdowns.

The finalists for the award will be announced Nov. 25, with the winner being announced Dec. 11 and presented live on Dec. 12 at the Home Depot College Football Awards show.

The seven other semifinalists are Jace Amaro (Texas Tech), Ted Bolser (Indiana), Eric Ebron (North Carolina), Devin Funchess (Michigan), Gator Hoskins (Marshall), Nick O’Leary (Florida State) and Austin Seferian-Jenkins (Washington).