One of the bigger storylines around Notre Dame this spring was whether Tight End U had a capable successor after the early departure of Troy Niklas. Ben Koyack spoke like a guy who was comfortable in his new No. 1 role, and the Irish's coaching staff talked about him becoming a major player in the passing game.
The expectations continue to rise for Koyack outside South Bend, Ind., as well. Mel Kiper Jr. has placed Koyack as his No. 3 senior tight end for the 2015 NFL Draft, citing his long frame (6-foot-5, 260 pounds) and his ability to run. Koyack is the third different Notre Dame player this week to make one of Kiper's position lists, joining Sheldon Day and KeiVarae Russell. And Koyack is the first senior of that group to be listed.
Ironically enough, the man in front of Koyack at No. 2 is Ohio State's Jeff Heuerman, the older brother of Mike Heuerman, who is expected to be one of Koyack's primary backups this fall at Notre Dame.
We touched on Koyack's stock a little bit last week when Phil Steele named him as a third-team preseason All-American. The Oil City, Pa., native came on strong down the stretch last season, catching nine passes for 152 yards and two touchdowns during the Irish's final six games. (He had only one catch, a 19-yard touchdown grab, in the seven games prior.)
Koyack is well aware of the Notre Dame tight end lineage he is stepping into. It seems now as though more and more are becoming aware of Koyack, which would be a big boost for the Irish passing game in 2014.