Top 10 Notre Dame Players
How does one rank the 10 greatest players in Notre Dame history? We went to the experts at Blue & Gold Illustrated (for link to website, see below) and editor Lou Somogyi gives us his picks with a list that dates back to 1917.<br><br>Although the Irish were only 25-21 during Brown's four years, the 1987 Heisman Trophy winner's game-breaking skills set the table for dynamic recruiting hauls that would return Notre Dame to the summit. Lou Holtz's first two seasons (1986-87) at Notre Dame were Brown's last two, and his 84 receptions under Holtz averaged 21 yards per catch. He also returned three punts and three kickoffs for TDs during his career, including back-to-back punts during a 1987 victory over that year's Rose Bowl champ, Michigan State. He was college football's best all-purpose runner since Nebraska's Johnny Rodgers in 1972.
The 1953 Heisman Trophy recipient was a two-time consensus All-American and a triple threat on offense, defense and special teams. He helped lead Notre Dame to a remarkable 6-1 record in 1952-53 against Top 10-ranked teams. On offense, he rushed for 1,724 yards while averaging 4.9 per carry, caught 39 passes (15.7 yards per receptions) and completed four for 111 yards. He also was a defensive demon who recorded 13 interceptions and eight recovered fumbles. On special teams, he punted 121 times, returned two kickoffs for TDs and averaged 11.4 yards on his 27 punt returns.
A starter from Game 1 as a freshman for Ara Parseghian's 1973 national champs, he won another national title under Dan Devine in 1977. Browner was awarded the Outland Trophy as a junior and placed fifth in the 1977 Heisman Trophy balloting. Only three defensive linemen since 1963 finished higher in the Heisman voting -- Nebraska's Rich Glover in 1972, Pitt's Hugh Green in 1980 and Washington's Steve Emtman in 1991. Browner's 340 career tackles are easily the most ever by an Irish lineman, and his 77 stops for lost yardage are well ahead of the next person on the Irish chart (43.5).
The last lineman to win the Heisman Trophy, Hart also edged out Sam Snead and Jackie Robinson as the 1949 AP male athlete of the year. The four-year star never experienced a loss at Notre Dame, as the Irish were 36-0-2 during his time and won three national titles. A physical terror on offense and defense, the two-time consensus All-American also was athletic enough to average 15.3 yards per his 49 career receptions -- 13 of them resulting in TDs -- and line up at fullback. He is the last college player to win the Heisman Trophy, a national title and be the NFL's No. 1 pick in the same school year.
Propelled Notre Dame's school record 23-game winning streak in 1988-89 -- and 10 of those triumphs came against ranked teams (five in the Top 3). Rice and USC's Matt Leinart own the most victories in NCAA annals as starting quarterbacks against ranked teams (11). Leinart had six wins versus Top 10 foes, while Rice had nine. The engine in Lou Holtz's option-oriented attack, he is the lone player in school annals to pass for more than 3,000 yards and rush for more than 2,000 (including bowl games). He averaged 4.9 yards per carry and a remarkable 8.7 yards per pass attempt.
Considered the greatest lineman in school history, he transferred from Holy Cross after World War II and was a two-way, two-time consensus All-American for two national champs that never trailed in a game and yielded only 76 points in 18 contests. Selected to Sports Illustrated's "All-Century" (1869-1969) college football team and the first recipient of the Outland Trophy, he combined exceptional strength with speed -- even receiving a Hollywood audition to replace Johnny Weissmuller in the role of Tarzan.
Raghib "Rocket" Ismail
Notre Dame's most electrifying football player ever, Ismail won the Walter Camp Award in 1990 as a junior before turning pro. He is the lone Notre Dame player to accumulate more than 1,000 career yards in three categories: rushing, receiving and kickoff returns, Ismail averaged 7.7 yards per carry, a school record 22 yards per his 71 receptions, and returned a school record five kickoffs for TDs -- two during a 24-19 Irish victory at Michigan in a No. 1 versus No. 2 showdown. His 17 career TDs averaged 61.7 yards.
Seldom has college football seen a more versatile player. A sophomore fullback on a 9-1 team, Hornung shifted to QB in 1955 and earned consensus All-America honors by finishing fourth nationally in total offense and making five interceptions. As a senior he ranked second in total offense and added 55 tackles on defense, thus becoming the lone player in history to win the Heisman for a team that finished with a losing record (2-8). He also kicked and punted, highlighted by a game-winning field goal with 2:15 left against Iowa in 1955.
The lone quarterback in college football history to direct three national titles, Lujack (32) was equally esteemed as a defender. His defining play was an open-field stop of Army's Heisman Trophy winner Felix "Doc" Blanchard during the famous 0-0 clash in 1946 against the two-time defending national champs. The 1947 Heisman Trophy winner was the centerpiece of Notre Dame's Golden Age of Football after World War II, when the Irish never lost from 1946-49. In 1960, Lujack became the youngest player (age 35) to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
One hundred years from now, "The Gipper" will remain an indelible part of college football lore. The first consensus All-American at Notre Dame led Knute Rockne's squads to consecutive unbeaten seasons (19 straight wins) as a junior and senior. His 8.10 yards per carry as a senior remains the school standard. During the two unbeaten years with Rockne, he rushed for 1,556 yards (averaging 7.5 yards per carry), averaged an extraordinary 10.7 yards per his 134 pass attempts, intercepted six passes, averaged 40 yards on 40 punts and kicked 20 PATs.