As another chapter in Notre Dame Football history comes to a close, let’s recap the best Irish players over the past 10 seasons for the University of Notre Dame with Notre Dame’s All-Decade 2010-2019.
Each of these impact players has all left a mark in their respective positions, but just imagine if they would have all played together. Many of these players are now playing on Sundays with the rest of the Irish in the NFL.
The Power House:
|Position||Player||Year||Current NFL Team|
|HB||Josh Adams||2018||Philadelphia Eagles|
|HB||Theo Riddick||2013||Detroit Lions|
|WR||Michael Floyd||2012||Baltimore Ravens|
|WR||Will Fuller||2016||Houston Texans|
|TE||Tyler Eifert||2013||Cincinnati Bengals|
|OL||Mike McGlinchey||2018||San Francisco 49’ers|
|OL||Quenton Nelson||2018||Indianapolis Colts|
|OL||Zack Martin||2014||Dallas Cowboys|
|OL||Nick Martin||2014||Houston Texans|
|OL||Ronnie Stanley||2016||Baltimore Ravens|
|DL||Stephon Tuitt||2014||Pittsburgh Steelers|
|DL||Jerry Tillery||2019||Los Angeles Chargers|
|DL||Isaac Rochell||2017||Los Angeles Chargers|
|LB||Jaylon Smith||2016||Dallas Cowboys|
|CB||Julian Love||2019||New York Giants|
|S||Harrison Smith||2012||Minnesota Vikings|
|S||Drue Tranquill||2019||Los Angeles Chargers|
|P||Tyler Newsome||2019||Los Angeles Chargers|
This was between Ian Book and DeShone Kizer – the deciding factor for the starting nod came based on the efficiency of Book versus the turnover numbers for Kizer. Book, though, still has much to prove.
Perhaps Josh Adams Heisman candidacy spoke for itself – in an era where running back by committee is so prevalent, Adams stood out as a clear cut RB1. His ability to get up the field without “dancing” in the backfield made it that much more impressive.
This would have open the door nicely for Theo Riddick. Riddick was a dynamic playmaker for the Fighting Irish. He emerged as a dual-threat weapon able to get outside the tackles carrying the ball, while also being able to open up the passing game as a slot receiver.
Notre Dame has landed some big-time recruits in recent history. Some did not meet the high expectations, but Michael Floyd surely did. His big frame allowed him to achieve separation for the 50/50 balls and be a reliable pass catcher despite some off the field issues.
What Floyd did with size, Will Fuller did with speed. Fuller’s quickness allowed him to burn past defenders. A one-two punch, this combination of speed and size would have been a matchup nightmare for opposing secondary’s.
Notre Dame has been openly referred to as “Tight-End-U” so it comes with high praise to select Tyler Eifert as the starting Tight End of the All-Decade Fighting Irish. Eifert’s production in his three seasons at Notre Dame was very consistent. Serving as a safety blanket for the quarterback, Eifert would round out the potent All-Irish’ offensive skill positions and be another weapon at Book’s disposal.
Notre Dame has also started to generate NFL caliber offensive linemen over the past several years. For the selection to anchor the offense, team chemistry was factored in by choosing two pairs of teammates who stood out. First were the Martin brothers, Zack perhaps the more well-known, but also Nick Martin. The next is Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson.
At the start of 2018, McGlinchey was the player to watch on the offensive line. Along comes Nelson to solidify the wall for opposing defenses. Between McGlinchey and Nelson, Adams was able to run free. Of course, Stanley would be the final piece to the puzzle, who also had the pleasure of blocking for Adams and helped spring the longest rush in Notre Dame history, 98 yards against Wake Forest in 2015.
Just as impactful as the offensive line has been, Notre Dame has struck gold with guys like Stephon Tuitt, Isaac Rochell, and Jerry Tillery. Julian Okwara still has a senior season ahead but is right on track to follow the footsteps of the rest of this rock-solid defensive line unit.
The versatility of these players to line up anywhere on the ball would put the pressure on an offensive line to constantly adapt to each of their unique skill sets. Tuitt and Tillery apply power, while Rochell and Okwara are great edge rushers. Good luck stopping these four.
The linebacker position had many great candidates but the three that stuck out were two obvious and one often forgotten.
Jaylon Smith and Manti Te’o were sideline-to-sideline coverage linebackers. With both on the field at once, Smith may have been the Heisman candidate, but Te’o certainly gave Irish fans a great final season on the field. Defensive players finishing in the Heisman race is extremely rare, and even more so from the linebacker position.
The final linebacker may be one of the best not-to-go-pro players of the decade, Joe Schmidt.
He would be the defensive captain of this unit. His leadership is what took him from a good defensive player to a great player. Schmidt epitomized the spirit of being a Notre Dame Football player.
With all the pressure applied by this hypothetical front seven, the defensive backfield needs to have instinctual playmakers who are able to create turnovers. At the safety positions, Harrison Smith and Drue Tranquil both play that role. On the corners, Julian Love and Robert Blanton. Within this defense, cornerbacks would be expecting quick passes to negate this pass rush and thus the cornerback position becomes that much more important.
Justin Yoon officially became Notre Dame’s leading point scorer last season, so it would be a snub not to include Mr. Yoon.
Next, the Punter. Punter’s typically don’t get a lot of love, but that’s because not many punters were like Tyler Newsome. It would be unprecedented to call Newsome a dynamic player at the punter position but he is just that.
His electric energy made special teams an exciting facet of the game, not to mention his ability to flip the field had a major impact in the 12-0 regular season in 2018.
Cheer, Cheer for Old Notre Dame:
The 2010s did have some ups and downs, but Notre Dame continues to show why they are considered a top-tier program in the college football world. With the remaining members of this dream team expected to leave after the 2020 season, Notre Dame closes the Book on another great chapter in their long history.
Looking forward, the future beyond this decade for Notre Dame looks bright. The Irish have been perennial Top 20 in recruiting class grades under Brian Kelly and as long as they continue to perform, the Kelly Era will continue.
Kelly will continue to be under scrutiny until he delivers some post-season success.
Every week the Head Coach at Notre Dame hosts a weekly press conference and a particular instance last season Kelly got on the topic of the pressures that come along with Notre Dame. He mentioned how part of going to Notre Dame is about winning those big games and being on the national stage.
The Pressure is a Privilege
“The Pressure is a Privilege” was the team’s mantra for the 2018 season, and it gives fans, media and outsiders insight into the culture necessary to maintain such a high level of excellence.