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 in the second level and crack into the Top 100 players.
Consensus or Unanimous All-American
Major CFB Award
111. Stephon Tuitt, DE, Monroe, Georgia (2011-13)
As physically ready as any defensive lineman in recent memory, Tuitt picked up a few starts as a true freshman. While his junior season was a bit disappointing Tuitt was on fire as a sophomore picking up 12 sacks which is 2nd most in a season for Notre Dame. His 21.5 career sacks is tied for third best in Irish history, and he was very close to earning consensus All-American honors in 2012.
110. Jim Carroll, LB, Atlanta, GA (1962-64)
The leader and captain of the stifling 1964 defense that led the program turnaround in Ara Parseghian’s first season. His 140 tackles as a senior were the most in a season to that point in school history. Carroll was awarded several All-American honors and just missed out on consensus.
109. Al Ecuyer, OG, New Orleans, Louisiana (1956-58)
Known as much for his tackling ability as a linebacker, Ecuyer was a tremendous standout for the Irish in those ‘lost’ years of the mid-to-late 1950’s. He was a consensus All-American as a junior in 1957 and just missed that honor again as a senior in 1958.
108. Pete Demmerle, WR, New Canaan, Connecticut (1972-74)
Demmerle led the Irish in receiving for both 1973-74 while winning a National Championship as a junior with several big grabs against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. As a senior, he was a consensus All-American and finished his career with 70 receptions, 1,076 yards, and 12 touchdowns.
107. Willie Fry, DE, Memphis, Tennessee (1973, 1975-77)
Part of a freshman class that many consider the best in school history. Fry played immediately and would eventually grow into a starter and captain on the 1977 team. He won a National Championship in his first and last years on campus. Among defensive linemen, Fry is 8th all-time in tackles and received All-American honors in both 1976 and 1977.
106. Dave Casper, TE, Chilton, Wisconsin (1971-73)
One of the first highly successful tight ends in modern Notre Dame history. Casper was initially a successful tackle and then was moved to tight end as a senior. During the 1973 campaign in which he was a captain of the National Champions, Casper caught 19 passes for 317 yards with 4 touchdowns and was named a consensus All-American. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2012.
105. Mike Fanning, DT, Tulsa, Oklahoma (1972-74)
A destructive force on the interior, Fanning just missed out on consensus All-American honors as a senior but helped the Irish to the 1973 National Championship. Standing 6’6″ he was a Jerry Tillery-like player 45 years in the past who totaled 12 tackles for loss in 1974.
104. Vagas Ferguson, RB, Richmond, Indiana (1976-79)
The first Irish player to rush for over 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons. Ferguson holds the season record for most carries (301) and left South Bend with the most carries in school history, as well. His 255-yard performance in 1978 stood as the high water mark in a game for 25 years. Ferguson’s 1,437 yards as a senior remains the most in a single-season and even though he’s since been passed he was Notre Dame’s all-time leading rusher when he graduated.
103. Nordy Hoffman, OG, Seattle, Washington (1930-31)
Famously never played football in high school and didn’t become a regular until his final 1931 season. Earned some All-American honors as a senior but missed out on being consensus. Led the ’31 defense in interceptions and was considered one of the team’s best defenders. Hoffman is one of 13 Notre Dame players who never made consensus All-American in a single season but are in the College Football Hall of Fame.
102. Tommy Yarr, C, Dabob, Washington (1929-31)
Yarr was also from the state of Washington like his teammate above and played next to Nordy Hoffman on the line in 1931. Considered by some the best center in school history. He was a two-time National Champion under Rockne and became a consensus All-American in 1931 after the coaching change. Yarr was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1987.
101. Christie Flanagan, RB, Port Arthur, Texas (1925-27)
Maybe the most underrated player in school history. Flanagan stepped into the spotlight in the wake of the Four Horsemen and led Notre Dame in rushing for all 3 seasons he played, and led the team in passing as a junior. He picked up All-American honors in 1927 and when he left the program Flanagan had broken the career rushing average mark set by Don Miller of the Four Horsemen. He now places 4th all-time with 6.39 yards per carry.
100. Reggie Brooks, RB, Tulsa, Oklahoma (1989-92)
Speaking of rushing average, Brooks burst on to the scene as a senior in 1992 with one of the finest seasons for an offensive playmaker in school history. After totaling fewer than 200 yards in his first 3 seasons, he dominated 1992 with 1,343 rushing yards (4th most in school history) and 14 total touchdowns while just falling short of George Gipp’s single-season rushing average. However, Brooks still holds the career rushing average (7.6 yards per carry) by a wide margin. He wasn’t a consensus All-American but finished 5th in the 1992 Heisman voting.
99. Bob Kelly, RB, Chicago, Illinois (1943-44)
During an era of extreme competition throughout the roster, Kelly made an impact as a backup running back as a true freshman in 1943. In his second season, he led the 1944 team in rushing while scoring an astounding 13 touchdowns for that era. For his efforts, Kelly finished 6th in the 1944 Heisman race. He would enroll in the Naval Academy for 1945 during World War II and then moved on to professional ball.
98. Autry Denson, RB, Davie, Florida (1995-98)
The former Irish assistant still holds numerous places in Notre Dame’s record books as a player. Denson is 2nd all-time in carries and still remains the school’s all-time leading rusher with 4,318 yards. His 1995 freshman season saw him notch the 2nd most yards ever by a first year player at the time. Denson went over 1,000 yards in each of his final 3 seasons and his 22 games with at least 100 yards rushing leads Notre Dame’s record book. He remains 2nd all-time in rushing touchdowns with 43 scores.
97. Bobby Taylor, CB, Longview, Texas (1991-94)
A super talented defensive back who played both safety and corner throughout his career. Taylor narrowly missed out on consensus All-American honors in 1993 before achieving that feat as a senior in 1994. During his final season, many in the country considered him the best DB in the entire country.
96. Fred Miller, OT, Milwaukee, Wisconsin (1926-28)
The grandson of the Miller Brewing Company founder and remembered as one of Notre Dame’s smartest ever football players. A three-time starter at left tackle, Miller became captain of the 1928 squad as a senior and was awarded consensus All-American honors. Inducted posthumously into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1985.
95. Josh Adams, RB, Warrington, Pennsylvania (2015-17)
The 12th highest player in the Pyramid from the Kelly era. Adams has the school record for most rushing yards in a game by a freshman (as well as the 3rd, 5th, and 9th most) and the most yards in a season by a freshman. His freshman 7.2 yards per carry average ranks the 5th best for a any Irish season. Adams’ senior season fell just 8 yards shy of breaking the record for most yards in one year. After leaving early with one year remaining he is 5th all-time in rushing yards and his rushing average for his career places him 3rd in Notre Dame history.
94. John Scully, OG, Huntington, New York (1977-80)
Originally a tackle for his first 2 seasons in South Bend, Scully was moved to guard as a junior where he blossomed. He won a National Championship his freshman year and earned unanimous All-American honors as a senior being only the third Notre Dame player from the 1980’s to achieve that feat and the only Irish player from 1979 to 1986 to receive unanimous distinction.
93. Shane Walton, CB, La Jolla, California (1999-2002)
The former soccer player who famously walked on to the football program. Walton started for 3 years at corner finishing his career with the 5th most broken up passes in school history and is tied for the most interceptions return for touchdown (3) over a career. He picked off 7 passes in 2002 and is 1 of only 10 players in Notre Dame history who have at least 10 interceptions in their careers. After 2002, Walton was awarded unanimous All-American status.
92. Will Fuller, WR, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (2013-15)
After a modest 6 receptions as a freshman, Fuller torched the country over his final 2 seasons in South Bend. His 76 receptions in 2014 is the 7th most in a season by an Irish player while his 1,258 yards in his final 2015 season is 2nd most in school history. Fuller’s 15 touchdowns in 2014 is tied for the most in a single season while his 30 career receiving touchdowns is 2nd most in Irish history and the most by anyone who played only 3 seasons. He left Notre Dame with the 7th most receptions and tied for the 4th most receiving yards for a career.