Coach Brian Kelly, who has overcome Notre Dame’s miserable start to the season, has suffered a major blow with the news that tight-end Kyle Rudolph, regarded as one of the best in the country, is out with a severe hamstring injury and will miss the rest of the season.

Rudolph will require surgery to repair the injury, which happened during the Pittsburgh game last weekend, Kelly announced on Tuesday.

The injury, in which the hamstring actually came away from the bone, had some back history. Rudolph had struggled with his hamstring during preseason and, prior to the Pittsburgh game, he had been troubled by it. But Kelly believes that he was fit to play.

"He felt very good before the game," Kelly said. "Exertion caused the injury. He tried to play through it, we had to pull him out late. He's a courageous kid, he tried to fight through it. Unfortunately it's led to him being sidelined for the season."

Kelly will now choose between Mike Ragone, Tyler Eifert and Jake Golic as cover for Rudolph at tight-end, but it will be hard to replace a player who had 28 catches for 328 yards and three touchdowns in 2010.