Nov 18, 2013, 5:42 PM EDT
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.
I continue my countdown of Notre Dame’s top 100 players of all time today with #81-85. It’s another heavy dose of linemen, but Notre Dame’s had a number of great ones over the years. About half of the players in the top 100 are centers, guards, tackles, and ends on both sides of the ball. But I guess that makes sense since there are anywhere from 9 to 12 linemen starting on a team.
Linemen are probably more concentrated at the bottom of the list since they don’t often get the benefit of Heisman voting or gaudy stats to improve their stock. Such is life.
#85: Art Boeringer – Center – 1925-1926
Consensus All-American (1926)
“Bud” Boeringer only started one year for the Irish, but what a year it was. He was named on the first team of every All-America selector except the United Press, just missing unanimous status. He blocked for standout halfback Christie Flanagan and helped the Irish compile a 9-1 record in ‘26. To be fair, though, I think most of Rockne’s seasons were like that.
To tell you the truth, the Internet doesn’t reveal a whole lot else about Notre Dame’s center from 1926, so let’s move on.
#84: Dick Arrington – Offensive Guard / Defensive Tackle – 1963-1965
Consensus All-American (1965)
One of the few athletes in Notre Dame history to achieve All-American status in two sports, Dick Arrington’s success was not limited to the football field. As captain of the wrestling team, Arrington was an All-American in the heavyweight division.
He started at left tackle in 1963 for Hugh Devore but moved to guard when Ara was hired. However, in 1965, starting defensive tackle Kevin Hardy was hurt in the preseason, and Arrington became a two-way player his senior season. He recorded 36 tackles while perfecting his game on the offensive line.
At the end of the year, all major media outlets except Sporting News named Arrington on the All-American team as a guard, which means he also narrowly missed a unanimous selection.
#83: John Smith – Guard – 1925-1927
Consensus All-American (1927)
One of Rockne’s last great linemen, “Clipper” Smith played his first year after the Four Horsemen and Seven Mules had graduated. Despite losing every starter from that 1924 national championship group, Smith’s teams went 23-4-2 over his three years.
A two-year starter on the line, Smith blocked with such greats as Art Boeringer and Fred Miller in front of Christie Flanagan. In 1927, Rockne named Clipper the sole team captain.
After graduation, Smith was the line coach for the Irish in 1928 and went on to be the head coach at North Carolina State and Duquesne. In 1936, his Duquesne squad went 8-2 with an Orange Bowl victory.
#82: Wayne Millner – End – 1933-1935
Consensus All-American (1935)
Wayne Millner is another one of those players who enjoyed NFL success after college. When inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1968, he was just the third Notre Dame player to receive the honor. At Notre Dame, however, he is perhaps best known for a couple game-winning plays in big moments.
In 1933, Hunk Anderson’s final year at Notre Dame, the Irish were struggling a bit. Entering their last game, they were 2-5-1 and had scored 7 points combined over their last six games (not a typo).
For the season finale, they went to the Bronx to face 9-0 Army. Millner gave the Irish an improbable win by blocking a punt with a minute left and returning it for a touchdown. Notre Dame won 13-12.
More importantly, Millner helped secure a win over Ohio State in 1935’s “Game of the Century.” The Irish scored three touchdowns in the final quarter to best the undefeated Buckeyes 18-13. The final score was brought in by Millner from Bill Shakespeare.
Here’s some footage of one of the greatest games in Notre Dame history. Link here if the embedded video doesn’t work.
#81: Frank Stams – Defensive End / Fullback – 1984-1988
Consensus All-American (1988), National Champion (1988)
1988: 51 total tackles, 7 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 2 recovered fumbles
Brought in by Gerry Faust as a fullback, Frank Stams made his biggest mark on the program on the defensive side of the ball for Lou Holtz. He started in the backfield in 1985 with Allen Pinkett, but was injured in the preseason of 1986. The injury may have been a blessing, though, as it gave Stams the eligibility to be a part of the ’88 championship team.
In his return in 1987, Stams played outside linebacker in Notre Dame’s 3-4 base defense, backing up Flash Gordon. When the Irish moved to a 5-2 in ’88, Stams and Gordon played alongside each other as defensive ends. Stams led the team in sacks with seven and was second only to Todd Lyght in pass breakups with eight.
Stams’ greatest moment might have been in the ’88 Miami game, another one of the best in Notre Dame history. He was named MVP of the game with two forced fumbles along with a recovery. Notre Dame won the game 31-30 against the top-ranked defending champions, going on to a 12-0 finish and its last national title.
81. Frank Stams
82. Wayne Millner
83. John Smith
84. Dick Arrington
85. Art Boeringer
87. Jeff Burris
88. Mirko Jurkovic
89. Nick Pietrosante
90. Gerry DiNardo
92. Frank Rydzewski
93. Eddie Anderson
94. Jack Robinson
95. Chuck Sweeney
97. Reggie Brooks
98. Bob Kelly
99. Ziggy Czarobski
100. Frank Dancewicz
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