I created a primer to this project which explains the way we’ll be ranking all 185 players. It will be a pyramid structure and as we ascend the players will get better and better. Follow along this off-season as we preach about all the wonderful talent that has played for Notre Dame.
Today, we continue exploring Level 1 and into Wing 2.
Consensus or Unanimous All-American
Major CFB Award
166. Chuck Sweeney, E, Bloomington, Illinois (1935-37)
A two-sport athlete in the Elmer Layden era who focused solely on football for his final season. Sweeney turned in a 1st-team All-American season in 1937 for his farewell, famously tackling Navy for a safety and a two-point win.
165. Kyle Rudolph, TE, Cincinnati, Ohio (2008-10)
Rudolph sent the freshman record for receiving yards by a tight end but had trouble staying healthy in his brief 3-year career. He’s tied for 2nd in school history with 8 receptions in a game which he achieved twice. Rudolph’s 164 yards against Michigan State in 2010 is the most by a tight end in a single game for the Irish. In just 29 career games, he totaled 90 receptions which is good for 5th most in school history.
164. Kinnon Tatum, LB, Fayetteville, North Carolina (1993-96)
The hard-hitting linebacker was thrust into the starting lineup as a freshman due to injuries but spent most of his underclassmen games under the radar. During his junior and senior seasons Tatum racked up 169 tackles, leading the Irish in 1996.
163. Sheldon Day, DT, Indianapolis, Indiana (2012-15)
A lightning quick interior lineman who played a key backup role as a true freshman on the undefeated regular season 2012 team. Day’s career progressed slowly and led him to being a two-time captain with All-American honors as a senior. His 15.5 tackles for loss in 2015 were the most in nearly a decade at Notre Dame while his career 32 tackles for loss falls just out the top 10 in school history.
162. Bertrand Berry, DE, Humble, Texas (1993-96)
A steady performer even as a young outside linebacker and lineman, Berry developed into a great player later in his career. He finished his career in 1996 with 10 sacks, the 4th most in a single season for the Irish.
161. John Carlson, TE, Litchfield, Minnesota (2004-07)
Carlson didn’t make much of an impact through his first two years. As a junior and senior–when he was a captain both years–Carlson emerged as one of the country’s best tight ends. Over his final 2 seasons he caught 87 passes, good for the 4th and 7th most respectively in a season for the Irish. Carlson’s 100 career catches are third-most in school history for a tight end.
160. Darius Walker, RB, Buford, Georgia (2004-06)
One of the most versatile backs in school history, Walker still holds the 1st and 3rd best seasons for receptions by a tailback at Notre Dame. His 109 career receptions was best ever for a running back until he was passed by Armando Allen. Never much of a burner, Walker also finished with 3,249 rushing yards (4th most in school history) and could’ve approached 1st place had he returned for his senior season.
159. Hunk Anderson, OG, Calumet, Michigan (1918-21)
A four-year starter on Knute Rockne’s first 4 teams in South Bend. Anderson was known as one of Rockne’s best ever linemen and picked up some All-American honors in 1921. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1974.
158. WR Rhema McKnight, WR, LaPalma, California (2002-06)
McKnight flashed a little bit as a true freshman and then grew into Notre Dame’s top receiver as a sophomore and junior before injuring his knee early in 2005. A rare 5th-year receiver, he bounced back tremendously with career-high numbers across the board in 2006. McKnight remains 4th all-time in Notre Dame history with 170 catches and his 15 touchdowns in 2006 remains in a tie for first place for a single season.
157. Mirko Jurkovic, OG, Calumet City, Illinois (1988-91)
Jurkovic played just 42 minutes as a true freshman defensive tackle on the 1988 title team then switched to offense the following year. He sat behind Tim Grunhard before developing into a consensus All-American guard in his final 1991 season.
156. Eric Dorsey, DT, McLean, Virginia (1982-85)
A steady performer who battled injuries early in his career. One of the biggest physical freaks in school history, Dorsey transformed his body on campus and earned some All-American honors after 1985.
155. Maurice Stovall, WR, Wayne, Pennsylvania (2002-05)
A promising freshman year built a lot of hype for Stovall who continued to produce throughout his career but never really took the next step–until 2005. As a senior, he exploded for 69 catches (9th most in school history), 1,149 yards (4th most), and 11 touchdowns (t-8th most) while finishing his career with the 10th most receiving yards at Notre Dame. His 4 touchdown catches against BYU in 2005 remains a school record, as well.
154. Tom Schoen, S, Euclid, Ohio (1965-67)
A backup quarterback early in his career, Schoen switched to safety as an upperclassman in one of the best position moves in school history. He picked up some All-American honors in 1966 on the way to a National Championship and followed that up with consensus All-American honors as a senior. Co-record holder for most interceptions returned for touchdown in a career. Also one of Notre Dame’s best punt returners ranking 6th all-time in punt return yardage.
153. Ron Powlus, QB, Berwick, Pennsylvania (1993-97)
The weight of expectations were too much to overcome but Powlus fought through injuries for a very solid career. He’s 4th all-time in each of career completions, passing yards, yards per game, and touchdown passes while he led all of those categories in school history after his 1997 season. Powlus remains tied for the most wins as a starting quarterback in Notre Dame history.
152. Tom Carter, CB, St. Petersburg, Florida (1990-92)
Supremely gifted with speed and physicality, Carter picked off 10 passes over 1991-92 and would have approached school records had he not left early for the NFL Draft. For his efforts in 1992 Carter was awarded some All-American honors.
151. Renaldo Wynn, DE, Chicago, Illinois (1992-96)
As a redshirt junior and fifth-year senior, Wynn led the Irish in sacks. He picked up some All-American honors in 1996 while being named team MVP. He currently stands 6th all-time in sacks for the Irish, while his 9 sacks in 1996 are also the 6th most in a single-season in school history.
150. Justin Yoon, K, Nashville, Tennessee (2015-18)
Notre Dame’s all-time scoring leader and perhaps its best kicker. Yoon obliterated the school record for field goal accuracy nailing 80.8% of his 73 attempts. A remarkably consistent kicker, he never missed more than 4 field goals in a season and made 190 out of his 196 PAT’s.
149. Vontez Duff, CB, Copperas Cove, Texas (2000-03)
A multi-faceted athlete who was a strong corner with 18 career pass break-ups. Duff also shined brightly on special teams where his 40 punt returns in 2002 are the 2nd most in school history. He finished his career with the 4th most punt return yardage and 6th most kickoff return yardage in Notre Dame annals. He was given some All-American honors after his 2002 season.
148. Mike Gann, DT, Lakewood, Colorado (1981-84)
One of many lost greats from the mid-1980’s. Gann was a versatile tackle/end combo who put together a sensational 1984 season which included 10 sacks and 19 tackles for loss. Those marks rate him tied for 4th and tied for 3rd in school history. Gann also remains 5th all-time in career sacks for the Fighting Irish. He received some All-American honors following 1984.
147. Trevor Laws, DT, Apple Valley, Minnesota (2004-07)
Quietly one of the more underrated players from this century. Laws was a steady performer through his first couple seasons before turning in a terrific 2007 on an over-matched team. His 112 tackles that year led the country for defensive lineman and was just one shy of tying the school record. Laws would leave Notre Dame with the 6th most career tackles by a defensive lineman.