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Griffin Eifert following in NFL brother’s footsteps at Notre Dame
Griffin Eifert was a star wide receiver for the Bishop Dwenger Saints, and will play college football at Notre Dame. (Photo: John Martin)

Griffin Eifert following in NFL brother’s footsteps at Notre Dame

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (BVM) — The Eifert family name is well-known in the state of Indiana. The oldest brother, Tyler, is probably the most well-known as an NFL tight end. Formerly of the Cincinnati Bengals and now a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Tyler played his college ball in South Bend at Notre Dame. The middle brother, Grady, was a walk-on basketball player at Purdue University who followed in his father’s footsteps at the school. Now the youngest brother, Griffin, is adding to the family legacy.

Griffin is a recent graduate of Bishop Dwenger High School and like his brothers before him, he has played football and basketball throughout his life. But since he began with the sport in third grade, football has always reigned supreme for Griffin.

“Football means everything to me,” Griffin said. “I grew up watching it, watching my brother, just enjoyed football and stuck with it.”

The safety and wide receiver played three years of varsity football for Bishop Dwenger, accumulating over 1,100 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns in his prep career, while also leading the team in interceptions his final two seasons. He was a key member of the state champion Saints in his junior season, and this past fall, Griffin had his best year yet on offense. As a team captain, the senior compiled nearly 500 receiving yards and caught seven touchdowns.

The Saints are coached by Jason Garrett, who has been with the football program for several years and will be entering into his third season as head coach this fall. For Griffin, Garrett was one of the main reasons his high school football experience was so enjoyable.

“He is the most religious, nicest, selfless person I have ever met. He just made football very fun and we wanted to be there at practice even when days got hard,” Griffin said.

The two formed a strong relationship over the past few years at Bishop Dwenger, exemplified by moments like after this year’s semi-state loss. Griffin waited in the parking lot after his last high school game to embrace Garrett and be the first to greet him after the tough defeat. Moments like these are why Garrett loved being able to coach the 18-year-old.

“I have a great relationship with Griffin. He’s a coach’s dream. He has all the intangibles in terms of hard work, his attention to detail, and his moral compass. He has a great personality and is highly coachable and because of that he was a leader in the classroom and on the field,” coach Garrett said.

Not only has Griffin been a joy to work with, but he has also contributed significantly to the team’s success and developed throughout his years at Bishop Dwenger. Garrett believes he will continue to develop not only his skills, but also physically, building on his 6-foot frame.

“There’s been tremendous development and I think his best is yet to come. He is incredibly athletic and continues to develop in the ball skills area, route running and physically,” Garrett said.

In the fall, Griffin will play football at the University of Notre Dame as a preferred walk-on. He also had similar offers from Purdue and Miami (Ohio), but ultimately couldn’t turn down a chance to follow in his brother’s footsteps and play for the Fighting Irish.

“Growing up around Notre Dame and watching my brother and what he took away from his experience is basically why I chose them,” Griffin said.

The wide receiver is very excited to get to play for coach Brian Kelly and be able to learn from the knowledge he brings. Griffin also has a strong relationship with Fighting Irish offensive coordinator and former Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees, who is good friends with Tyler.

Griffin will follow in not only Tyler’s footsteps at Notre Dame, but also Grady’s in the regard that he will be going into a sport as a preferred walk-on looking to make a name for himself. While he knows he will have to work hard, Griffin realizes he has a great opportunity at the program.

“It’s a dream come true. I think anyone who grows up in Indiana or even in the Midwest dreams of playing football at Notre Dame so I’m not taking that for granted. I’m just going in knowing my role, want to make the team better, and develop relationships on and off the field,” Griffin said.

Although he will always be linked to his brothers, Griffin has never felt any pressure to live up to their athletic accomplishments. Rather, he believes it is important to be able to make his own name for himself.

“It’s obviously something that I want to do. It’s not a bad thing, but no one necessarily wants to be known as your older brother’s name. [Grady] went out and made a name for himself and it’d just be cool to make one for myself,” Griffin said.

The Bishop Dwenger grad has been keeping busy during the spring, working out with Tyler down in Florida. Griffin hopes to contribute on offense and special teams over his years in South Bend, and believes he can also play on defense if he puts on some weight and gets even quicker.

Coach Garrett believes if Griffin can indeed develop even further, particularly physically, the future could be very bright for the 18-year-old.

“I certainly believe that he has the talent, athleticism, and work ethic. The piece that might be holding people back is his height. But if he grows a couple inches I really think his ceiling is as high as his brother’s. I’m excited to see how it all plays out and there could be a story down the road about another Eifert heading into the NFL,” Garrett said.

Griffin also believes if he works hard enough he can make it to the pros someday. But if not, he will look to get involved with sports management in the future, and will study business management at Notre Dame.

The Eifert family has brought Indiana and the entire country some great sports moments over the past decade, and now the youngest brother has the chance to do the same.

Griffin has a bright future ahead of him, and it will be fun to see how much he develops over the next few years at Notre Dame.

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