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ND Rank: #36-40

Jan 21, 2014, 6:36 PM EDT

Joe Theismann Joe Theismann

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.

With the news that Notre Dame is signing with Under Armour this summer coming out today, maybe someone can photoshop some UA logos on these pictures. All of today’s players come from the Champion (or pre-Champion) days, as so many of them seem to do. 

But we’ve cracked the top 40 of ND Rank with a Leahy guy, a Brennan/Kuharich guy, two Rocknes and an Ara, so I’m a little far chronologically from the Under Armour era.

#40: Bob Dove – End – 1940-1942

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Bob Dove

2x Consensus All-American (1941, 1942), Knute Rockne Trophy (1942)

Our first two-time consensus All-American, Bob Dove was a part of the first teams Frank Leahy took over. Those two teams went a combined 15-2-3, finishing third and sixth in the final AP polls. Dove caught three touchdowns in his career – from Heisman winner Angelo Bertelli – but was better known as a force on both lines. He won the Knute Rockne Memorial Trophy for best lineman in the country in 1942.

In 1940 Dove became the first sophomore to start for Notre Dame since 1929. One game that season he broke his nose, but elected to play out the season rather than fix it and take games off. The next week a hard hit re-broke the nose.

Inducted into the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame in 2000, Dove also played eight years in the NFL with a Pro Bowl bid in 1950.

#39: Monty Stickles – End – 1957-1959

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Monty Stickles

2x 1st-team All-American (1958, 1959), Consensus All-American (1959), 9th in Heisman (1959)

1958: 20 receptions for 328 yards, 7 TDs; 31 tackles, 2 pass breakups, 2 fumble recoveries

1959: 11 receptions for 235 yards, 2 TDs; 52 tackles, 2 pass breakups, 1 fumble recovery

Playing at the tail end of the two-way era, Monty Stickles was one of the most versatile players in Notre Dame history. From 1953 to 1963, the NCAA required teams to move to a one-platoon system in which a player who left the game could not return.

Stickles was a playmaker on both sides of the ball while also taking on placekicking duties. With his seven touchdowns, 15 PATs, and one field goal, he was responsible for 60 points in 1958, by far more than any other Irish player. He led the team in receptions and receiving yards that year and finished fourth in tackles the following year.

Drafted by San Francisco in the first round of the 1960 NFL Draft, Stickles was a chippy, controversial NFL player who played eight seasons with the 49ers and one with the Saints.

#38: Elmer Layden – Fullback / Halfback – 1922-1924

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Elmer Layden

Consensus All-American (1924), 2nd-team All-American (1923), National Champion (1924)

The last of the Four Horsemen, Elmer Layden played fullback his final two years after starting at left halfback his sophomore season. Despite being the biggest at 6-foot, 162 pounds, he was still the fastest member of the group – supposedly he could run a 10-second 100-yard dash.

After leading Notre Dame to the national championship in 1924, Layden became the head coach of Columbia College in Dubuque before taking the job at Duquesne. In 1934 he moved on to coach the Irish, posting a 47-13-3 record in seven seasons, only losing more than two games once.

One of his highlights as coach was winning the 1935 game against Ohio State, which I’ve already talked about in the bios for Wayne Millner and Bill Shakespeare. After coaching at his alma mater, Layden became the commissioner of the NFL.

Along with George Gipp and Knute Rockne, Layden was enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame in its inaugural class of 1951.

#37: Joe Kurth – Tackle – 1930-1932

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Joe Kurth

2x 1st-team All-American (1931, 1932), Unanimous All-American (1932), National Champion (1930)

One of only three Notre Dame unanimous All-Americans on the offensive line – in addition to Ed Beinor and Aaron Taylor – Joe Kurth was one of the last greats to play under Rockne. He started at right tackle for three years, including on Rockne’s last team – the 1930 title team that finished 10-0.

That 1930 line featured Ed Kosky, Al Culver, Tom Kassis, Tommy Yarr, Bert Metzger, and Tom Conley, making it one of the best in Irish history. Playing possibly the toughest schedule in the country, the undefeated Irish put of 26.5 points per game, which was 10th best in the nation.

The championship was sealed with a 27-0 drubbing of Southern Cal in Los Angeles. While the Irish offense was potent, the defense managed to shut out the 8-1 Trojans, who put up an astounding 38.2 points per game that season. It was only the second time USC scored under 27 for the season.

After contributing heavily to that team, Kurth was a first-team All-American the next two years, played in the East-West Shrine game in 1933 and was picked up by the Green Bay Packers.

#36: Joe Theismann – Quarterback – 1968-1970

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Joe Theismann

1st-team All-American (1970), 2nd in Heisman (1970)

1970: 164 completions on 284 attempts for 2,605 yards, 23 total TDs, 15 INTs

For a man who changed the pronunciation of his name to rhyme with “Heisman,” it’s a little sad that Joe Theismann only finished second. But Theismann’s Notre Dame career was anything but disappointing. His 20-3-2 record as a starter is eighth in Irish history among quarterbacks with at least 12 starts.

He took over for injured senior Terry Hanratty late in the 1968 season, leading the Irish to three top-five finishes. He is most remembered for the 1970 season, which ended with a No. 2 ranking following a win over top-ranked Texas in the Cotton Bowl. Theismann and Tom Gatewood connected for 1,166 yards and 8 TDs that season, one of the best duos in Irish lore. In addition to being an All-American and Heisman runner-up that season, he was named an Academic All-American as well.

Theismann went on to have a very successful pro career, winning a Super Bowl and an MVP for the Redskins. He left Notre Dame the leader in attempts in a season, completions in a season, career completion percentage, passing yards in a game (still held with 526), passing yards in a career, passing yards in a season, touchdowns in a season, and touchdowns in a career.

Here’s a pretty great video of former sports information director Roger Valdiserri explaining how Joe “Theesman” became “Theismann, as in Heisman.”

I posted this video last week for Tom Gatewood, but watch it again for Theismann, playing one of the best games of Ara’s era.

Rumor has it next time might feature a couple players from the adidas era, so stick around.

List:

Intro

36. Joe Theismann

37. Joe Kurth

38. Elmer Layden

39. Monty Stickles

40. Bob Dove

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

  1. Kara and Darren Davenport - Jan 21, 2014 at 9:55 PM

    I have enjoyed reading your blog and was thrilled to see you recognize my grandfather Bob Dove. He loved Notre Dame and was so happy to finally be inducted in the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend when he was around 80 years old. Even will his age and advancing Parkinson’s disease which inhibited his ability to walk well, he took the family for a tour around campus and enjoyed being honored on the field at half time. He was dedicated to the game, his alma mater, his fellow teammates and the players he coached. He was a great man and is truly missed. Thank you for helping his contribution to the game be remembered and learned by others.

    Sincerely, Kara Dove Davenport

    Reply
    • Craig Chval ('15) - Jan 22, 2014 at 1:02 AM

      Thank you so much for the comment! The best part of this series for me has been learning so much about the great players in Notre Dame history, and it’s heartwarming for me to hear from you about your grandfather. I think Notre Dame is unique in its ability to inspire that type of passion from its players, students, and fans. I’m glad to be connected to the institution that men like your grandfather helped build and that he was also able to recognize the greatness he was a part of.

      This is a pretty silly, meaningless blog in that it’s one kid’s opinion about 100 years of Notre Dame football players. I think it serves a much bigger purpose when it helps highlight the men who made this university what it is.

      Reply
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