Notre Dame Football: Offensive Skill Players Who Will Deliver Huge Seasons

Ian Hanford@Ian_HanfordFeatured ColumnistAugust 15, 2012

SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 29: Tyler Eifert #80 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish reaches for a pass as Chris Ferguson #23 of the Navy Midshipmen defends at Notre Dame Stadium on October 29, 2011 in South Bend, Indiana. Notre Dame defeated Navy 56-14.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Notre Dame has the skill players this year to run Brian Kelly's spread attack to perfection. Fans of the Fighting Irish should expect major production from more than one source when Notre Dame's offense takes the field.

Much of this depends on who Kelly puts behind center. It's going to be either Everett Golson or Andrew Hendrix with freshman Gunner Kiel likely holding the clipboard for his first year in South Bend.

Hendrix has more experience, but Golson's game is tailor-made for Kelly's wide-open assault. No matter who winds up taking snaps, they will have plenty of helping hands.

The Irish enter the year ranked No. 24, and that's due in large part to these three players:


Tyler Eifert

Notre Dame has had a solid pass-catching option at tight end for the past several years. Kyle Rudolph, John Carlson and Anthony Fasano all enjoyed notable collegiate careers, and Eifert may be the best of the bunch.

Eifert uses his 6'6'' frame to create matchup nightmares over the middle of the field. He doesn't have elite speed, but he has more than enough to stretch the field vertically and blow the top off of the opposing secondary.

Last year he caught 63 passes for 803 yards and five touchdowns. He will be the top tight end in the 2013 NFL draft and deservedly so.

Whoever winds up behind center will be happy to have Eifert lined up at tight end. He will stretch the seams and put a ton of stress on every level of the opposing defense.


Cierre Wood

Wood doesn't get a lot of press, but I'm a big fan. He (quietly) racked up 1,102 yards last season and nine touchdowns. 

Being undersized in the backfield can be an issue, but it's not for Wood. He has quick feet and is elusive in the open field. Running out of the spread allows him to run behind Notre Dame's hogs up front, and he is excellent at finding small cracks in the defensive front. 

He's also a capable receiver. Last year he caught 27 passes, and his speed makes him dangerous when he receives the ball in the flat.

Since 2010, Wood has run for just over 1,700 yards and 12 touchdowns. He's proven himself as a consistent No. 1 option and he will deliver a huge year in his final collegiate season.


Theo Riddick

Believe me, Irish fans, I wanted to put Golson here, but I'll stick with a player guaranteed to play every week.

If you go on's Notre Dame page, Riddick is actually listed as a running back, but that only speaks to his versatility. While he's a threat to line up behind the quarterback, his real value comes as a wide receiver.

Riddick only stands 5'11'', but he works wonders in the slot. He's very good at finding the soft spot in a defense and also at making defenders miss once he gets the ball in his hands.

Last year he caught 38 passes for 436 yards and three touchdowns. He caught 40 passes for 414 yards and three touchdowns in 2010. He's only run for 92 yards in the past two seasons, but that doesn't mean he's not a threat.

Every spread offense needs that "wild card" player. Freshman Davonte Neal could eventually become that guy, but right now it's Riddick.

Look for this versatile senior to enjoy an excellent last year in South Bend.