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 finish the 4th level of the pyramid and move one step below the greatest ever players in Notre Dame history.
Consensus or Unanimous All-American
Major CFB Award
18. Creighton Miller, RB, Wilmington, Delaware (1941-43)
In the long history of Notre Dame football only one player has lead the nation in rushing for a season and that’s Creighton Miller in 1943 whose 911 yards were a school-record at the time. He was the starting running back for his final 2 seasons and the nephew to Four Horseman Don Miller. Following the 1943 season, Creighton was named a consensus All-American while finishing 4th in the Heisman voting. He’s a 1976 inductee into the College Football Hall of Fame.
17. Luther Bradley, CB, Muncie, Indiana (1973, 1975-77)
Bradley won All-American honors across 3 separate seasons and was a consensus pick for the 1977 season. He won a pair of National Championships in 1973 and 1977 while finishing his career with 153 tackles. Bradley started his career at safety then became a very large and intimidating corner. He holds the single-game record for interception return yards (103) while his 17 career interceptions are the most in Notre Dame history. Bradley’s 27 career pass break-ups ranks him 4th in school history.
16. Jim Lynch, LB, Lima, Ohio (1964-66)
Lynch tallied 255 tackles over his career and was captain of the 1966 National Championship team–generally considered the best defender on the school’s best-ever defense. He earned All-American honors in both 1965 and 1966 while being an unanimous selection as a senior. Following his final season, Lynch won the Maxwell Award as the country’s best player. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1992.
15. Ken MacAfee, TE, Brockton, Massachusetts (1974-77)
In the long line of tight ends to come through Notre Dame it is Ken MacAfee who remains the gold standard. He picked up All-American honors over his final 3 seasons while being consensus in 1976 and unanimous in 1977. His 9 receptions in a game remains the school record for a tight end and his 54 catches in 1977 were the most at Notre Dame at his position until 2011.
MacAfee’s 128 receptions and 1,759 yards used to be the school record and is now 2nd most all-time for a tight end. Following his senior season, MacAfee finished an amazing 3rd in the Heisman voting and took home the Walter Camp Award–to date the only tight end to win the award. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1997.
14. Bill Fischer, OG, Chicago, Illinois (1945-48)
A three-year starter for Notre Dame, Fischer started out at tackle before moving inside to guard. What’s most amazing is that he was normal college-aged for this era unlike many of his teammates who had served in World War II and were well into their 20’s as freshmen. Fischer would earn consensus All-American honors for his final 2 seasons in South Bend and took home the Outland Trophy as the country’s top interior lineman after his senior year. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1983 and is still considered by many to be Notre Dame’s greatest offensive guard.
13. Terry Hanratty, QB, Butler, Pennsylvania (1966-68)
Hanratty started for 3 years with the Irish and won a National Championship in his first season on campus. His 63 passing attempts against Purdue in 1967 remains the school record. For his career he passed for 4,152 yards and was a productive runner with 586 yards on the ground. Hanratty’s 7 rushing scores in 1967 tied the school single-season record for a quarterback and when he graduated he was Notre Dame’s all-time leader in completions and passing yards per game.
In total, he scored 43 touchdowns and was a consensus All-American after the 1968 season. Hanratty finished 8th, 7th, and 3rd in the Heisman voting and is 1 of only 2 players in Notre Dame history to receive Heisman votes across 3 seasons. Hanratty remains in 6th place for winning percentage among Notre Dame quarterbacks and is a curious omission from the College Football Hall of Fame.
12. Tim Brown, WR, Dallas, Texas (1984-87)
Tim Brown’s name is littered all over the Irish record book. He has the 3rd, 4th, and 6th most all-purpose yards in a game and his 1,937 all-purpose yards in 1986 remains the school record. Brown is 10th all-time in receptions and 6th in receiving yards while playing his entire career in run-heavy offenses. He had the 4th most punt return yards in the nation during the 1987 season, he’s 4th in kickoff return yardage for an Irish career, and his 6 special teams touchdowns is tied for the Notre Dame record. Brown won the Walter Camp Award and Heisman Trophy after 1987 while being named an unanimous All-American. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2009.
11. Alan Page, DE, Canton, Ohio (1964-66)
Like many from his era, Page wasn’t allowed to play as a freshman. However, he started all 29 games over his final 3 seasons culminating in a National Championship as a senior as a leader on perhaps Notre Dame’s greatest defense. In most respects, Page was Notre Dame’s first modern speed-rushing end before sacks were recorded by the NCAA. Following his senior year he won consensus All-American honors while making 63 tackles. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1993.