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ND Rank: #41-45

Jan 15, 2014, 5:05 PM EST

Jim Crowley (first from left) and Harry Stuhldreher (fourth) formed half of the "Four Horsemen." Jim Crowley (first from left) and Harry Stuhldreher (fourth) formed half of the "Four Horsemen."

Craig Chval, the official 2013 football beat writer for the Strong & True blog, is currently a junior at the University of Notre Dame. Over the course of the year Craig will bring you insight from within the student section, interviews with Fighting Irish players and previews of each game. You can follow Craig (and the rest of the Notre Dame student beat writing staff) on twitter at @JrNDBloggers.

The 2013 season is over and the new semester has begun here at Notre Dame, so get ready for ND Rank to pick back up again. While much of the bottom half of the top 100 featured linemen, I’m making up for it now with a wealth of skill position players, especially wide receivers. The three pass-catchers today are very hard to differentiate, so it might be best to think of it as a three-way tie.

#45: Jim Seymour – Split End – 1966-1968

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Jim Seymour with Terry Hanratty

3x 1st-team All-American (1966-1968), National Champion (1966)

1966: 48 receptions for 862 yards, 8 TDs

1967: 37 receptions for 515 yards, 4 TDs

1968: 53 receptions for 736 yards, 4 TDs

There remain a select few number of Irish players who are three-time All-Americans. Our first, Jim Seymour, is joined by fellow greats Leon Hart, Ken MacAfee, Chris Zorich, and Luther Bradley. Those are the only five.

As the favorite target of Terry Hanratty, he led the team in receiving each of his three years. His 862 yards in 1966 were almost as much as the rest of the team combined (947). Like Huarte and Snow before them, Hanratty and Seymour (“Mr. Fling” and “Mr. Cling”) formed an intimidating duo. As sophomores in 1966 they led the Irish to their first national championship since 1949.

Their first game that season, the two connected for 276 yards in a 26-14 victory over Purdue. It was no small victory, as the Boilermakers finished sixth in the polls and beat USC in the Rose Bowl. Seymour’s 276 yards that game remain a school record, and they came in the first game of his career and his quarterback’s.

Seymour finished his career as the Notre Dame leader in receptions, only to be passed by Tom Gatewood three years later. Hanratty’s favorite target was drafted in the first round of the 1969 NFL Draft and played three seasons for the Bears. He died from cancer in 2011.

Here are some plays from that epic first game for Hanratty and Seymour against Purdue.

#44: Tom Gatewood – Split End – 1969-1971

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Tom Gatewood

2x 1st-team All-American (1970, 1971), Consensus All-American (1970)

1970: 79 receptions for 1,166 yards, 8 TDs

1971: 33 receptions for 417 yards, 4 TDs

I’ve talked a lot about how today’s pass-happy state of football makes it hard to compare the present to the past by looking at stats. When you look at the Notre Dame receiving record books, they are filled almost exclusively with players from the last 20 years – and Tom Gatewood.

Gatewood left Notre Dame with almost every school receiving record there is. His 157 career receptions and 1,123 receiving yards in a season were the best until Jeff Samardzija. He held the record for career receiving yards (2,283) until Tim Brown won the Heisman. His eight games with 100+ receiving yards in 1970 went untouched until Golden Tate’s 2009 season (and Tate had an extra game). He had the most career touchdowns with 19 until Derrick Mayes 24 years later.

A captain of the 1971 team, Gatewood complemented his record-breaking on-field performance with two seasons as an Academic All-American as well.

Gatewood played a pivotal role in Notre Dame’s upset victory over #1 Texas in the 1971 Cotton Bowl. Here are some highlights of that classic game.

And speaking of Golden Tate…

#43: Golden Tate – Wide Receiver – 2007-2009

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Golden Tate

Unanimous All-American (2009), 10th in Heisman (2009), Biletnikoff Award (2009)

2009: 93 receptions for 1,496 yards, 15 TDs; 25 carries for 186 yards, 2 TDs; 12 punt returns for 171 yards, 1 TD

The most electrifying Irish player since The Rocket, Golden Tate delivered one of the best seasons ever by a wide receiver at Notre Dame in 2009. His 1,496 receiving yards that season are 250 more than the next highest (Jeff Samardzija in 2005). He left Notre Dame the leader in career receiving yards with 2,707 despite forgoing his senior season. Michael Floyd passed him, however, in 2011.

Tate was the best weapon on the offensively charged 2009 team, finishing with at least 100 yards in nine of the 12 games. He was the only player to appear on an All-America ballot and was 1st team on all of them. He earned the Biletnikoff Award for best wide receiver in the country and even collected a couple first-place Heisman votes despite being on a 6-6 team.

Drafted in the second round in the 2010 NFL Draft, Tate has been a productive member of the Seattle Seahawks. His breakout 2013 campaign included 898 yards and five touchdowns. The Seahawks play in the NFC Championship on Sunday.

I’m sure Tate is recent enough that your memory of his great plays is relatively fresh, but enjoy. Link here if video doesn’t work.

#42: Jim Crowley – Halfback – 1922-1924

#41: Harry Stuhldreher – Quarterback – 1922-1924

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Jim Crowley

Consensus All-American (1924), National Champion (1924)

source:

Harry Stuhldreher

I’ll write this bio together since it’s hard to separate these two entries. Two more members of the Four Horsemen, Jim Crowley and Harry Stulhdreher were both driving forces of the 1924 championship team – Notre Dame’s first. They were both consensus All-Americans in 1924, along with teammate Elmer Layden, the fullback. Of course, Don Miller – #51 on this list – completes the group.

Crowley started at left halfback in 1923 and 1924 after backing up Layden in ’22. “Sleepy Jim’s” shifty style complemented Miller, the open field threat. Standing at just 5’7”, Stuhldreher was the starting quarterback for Rockne almost every game in his three year career.  He also returned punts for the Irish.

90 years later, it’s hard to tell how much of the legend of the Four Horsemen is hype and how much is genuine. None of the players was taller than 6 feet or weighed more than 170 pounds. The unstoppable “cyclone” of Grantland Rice scored a whopping 13 points against Army in that famous 1924 game.

Nevertheless, Crowley, Stuhldreher, and company quite possibly formed the most dominant backfield in the history of college football. With four All-Americans in the backfield leading their team to a 19-1 record, it’s hard to argue with the facts.

After college Crowley ended up coaching Michigan State, Fordham, and North Carolina Pre-Flight. He had two top-ten finishes at Fordham, including a Sugar Bowl victory in 1941. A native of Green Bay, Crowley went to Curly Lambeau’s high school and coached Vince Lombardi at Fordham.

Stuhldreher also coached, leading Villanova and Wisconsin. In 1942 his Wisconsin team finished third in the polls. He wrote the book Knute Rockne, Man Builder, which was drawn from for the movie Knute Rockne, All American.

List:

Intro

41. Harry Stuhldreher

42. Jim Crowley

43. Golden Tate

44. Tom Gatewood

45. Jim Seymour

46. Larry DiNardo

47. Al Ecuyer

48. Bobby Taylor

49. Clarence Ellis

50. Creighton Miller

51. Don Miller

52. Alan Page

53. Vagas Ferguson

54. Jack Snow

55. Greg Marx

56. Tom Schoen

57. Tom Regner

58. Tony Rice

59. Gus Dorais

60. Jim White

61. Allen Pinkett

62. Shane Walton

63. Tom Clements

64. John Scully

65. Kevin Hardy

66. Bill Shakespeare

67. Mike Townsend

68. Jim Kelly

69. Jack Cannon

70. Pat Filley

71. John Mastrangelo

72. Christie Flanagan

73. Dave Casper

74. Dave Huffman

75. George Kunz

76. Jerry Groom

77. Tommy Yarr

78. Pete Demmerle

79. Nick Rassas

80. John Yonakor

81. Frank Stams

82. Wayne Millner

83. John Smith

84. Dick Arrington

85. Art Boeringer

86. Art Hunter

87. Jeff Burris

88. Mirko Jurkovic

89. Nick Pietrosante

90. Gerry DiNardo

91. Tyler Eifert

92. Frank Rydzewski

93. Eddie Anderson

94. Jack Robinson

95. Chuck Sweeney

96. Jim Martin

97. Reggie Brooks

98. Bob Kelly

99. Ziggy Czarobski

100. Frank Dancewicz

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