Notre Dame had a pair of players in the Top 10 position rankings by Pro Football Focus, and the 2021 Fighting Irish opponents had a number of players selected as well. In fact, nine Notre Dame opposing players were placed in the list.
Wisconsin led the way with two players selected among the Top 10 players in the country at their position, and another was named "One More Name To Watch" list. Linebacker Jack Sanborn was ranked as the nation's No. 7 returning linebacker, tight end Jake Ferguson was ranked as the No. 10 tight end and defensive tackle Keeanu Benton was named the "Name To Watch" interior defensive player.
USC had a pair of players in the lists, with Kedon Slovis ranked as the 10th best returning quarterback and defensive end Drake Jackson being listed as the "Name To Watch" among edge rushers.
North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell was the highest ranked player at any position, checking in as the No. 2 signal caller in the ranking. North Carolina cornerback Storm Duck ranked as the 10th best returning cornerback.
Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad Gardner was ranked as the nation's No. 2 returning cornerback. defensive end Myjai Sanders was ranked as the No. 5 edge defender.
Purdue wide receiver David Bell was ranked as the No. 8 player at his position.
Virginia Tech's James Mitchell was listed as the No. 9 tight end.
Interestingly, Notre Dame sophomore Michael Mayer was not ranked as one of the Top 10 tight ends, nor was he listed as the "Name To Watch." That means PFF believes that Notre Dame will face two tight ends that are better than Mayer. I have a feeling no one is going to believe that after those games are played. If Mayer isn't one of the 11 best tight ends in the country this will go down as the best group of tight ends in history ..... I say with some hyperbole, but you get my point.
Mayer had 42 catches last season as a true freshman, and he ranked among the 10 best tight ends in the country in catches.
It was also highly questionable that running back Kyren Williams wasn't named as one of the Top 10 running backs, nor was he listed as the name to watch. I'm not quite sure how this oversight happened, especially since Williams finished in the top 10 last season in both rushing yards, rushing touchdowns and catches for a running back.
I must admit I haven't watched all the players that ranked above Mayer and Williams in these lists, and that's especially true of the tight ends, but I've seen most. I find the fact neither was ranked among the ten best players at their position as a major oversight at best, and just sheer idiocy at worst.
I have a feeling that both will be among the ten best players at their positions in 2021.
Notre Dame wasn't the only program to have players left off the list. Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder was left off the quarterback list. Purdue defensive end George Karlaftis was left off the edge defender list.
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