SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Troy Niklas generally hasn't cared to engage the questions about his ability to replace Tyler Eifert, but he's at the least aware of Notre Dame's recent lineage of good tight ends.
In April, Eifert became the fourth Notre Dame tight end in the last eight years selected in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft. Niklas, despite two solid games to open the 2013 season, has a ways to go he's used that lineage as a motivational tool.
"They've set a high bar, and now that I'm playing tight end it's kind of a cool thing to maybe reach for to get to the point where you're at their stats or even greater than that," Niklas said.
Brian Kelly coached two of those guys -- Eifert and Kyle Rudolph -- while John Carlson and Anthony Fasano were coached under the previous regime. But Kelly sees success begetting success, and a strong line of tight ends forming because of it.
"Recruits look at it, and then we've done a nice job of featuring the tight ends within the offensive structure," Kelly said. "You know, you get one, and then it just starts to kinds of snowball a little bit."
Niklas, though, wasn't recruited as a tight end -- he played offensive line in high school, was initially switched to defensive line/linebacker and then finally to tight end before last season.
"You get a little lucky along the way, too," Kelly said.