Dec 4, 2013, 1:11 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.
We’ve got a few weeks until Notre Dame’s bowl game, so I’m using the time off to move through my list of the top 100 players in Notre Dame history. Here’s 71 through 75:
#75: George Kunz – Offensive Tackle – 1966-1968
Consensus All-American (1968), National Champion (1966)
George Kunz was named the starter at right tackle as a sophomore in 1966, one of the best teams in Notre Dame history. However, he was injured in the second game and had to watch the championship run from the sidelines.
Kunz would return the following year, though, and start two more years for the Irish at tackle. He was named co-captain in 1968 with Bob Olson, turning in an All-American season. Named on the first team by all outlets except the AP, he was another one of those near misses for unanimous selection.
Selected second overall by the Falcons in 1969 (behind O.J. Simpson), Kunz went on to have a remarkable NFL career, appearing in eight Pro Bowls between 1969 and 1977.
#74: Dave Huffman – Center – 1975-1978
Consensus All-American (1978), National Champion (1977)
A three-year starter at center for Dan Devine, Dave Huffman was an integral part of the line for the 1977 national championship team. The next year he was selected as a first-team All-American by six different media outlets in a breakout senior campaign.
Known for his sense of humor, Huffman used to wear red elbow pads so his mother could make him out in the interior of the line that so often gets messy. He went on to play 12 seasons for the Minnesota Vikings.
Huffman died in a car crash on the way to South Bend to watch Notre Dame play LSU in 1998.
#73: Dave Casper – Tight End / Offensive Tackle – 1971-1973
Consensus All-American (1973), National Champion (1973)
1973: 19 receptions for 317 yards, 4 TDs
A co-captain of the 1973 national championship team, Dave Casper only played one year at tight end, where he earned consensus All-America honors. The year before he was the starting left tackle and made the move despite great success there. The change proved to be a smart move, as he was named offensive MVP for the Irish en route to Parseghian’s second national championship.
Casper went on to play 11 seasons in the NFL, where he was a five-time Pro-Bowler, five-time All-pro, and two-time Super Bowl Champion with the Raiders. He was named to the 1970s All-Decade Team and inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002.
He is one of five Notre Dame players to be in both the College Football and Pro Football Hall of Fame. Wayne Millner (#82 on the list), Alan Page, George Connor, and Paul Hornung are the others.
Here is a great video of some of Casper’s highlights. Link here if video doesn’t work.
#72: Christie Flanagan – Halfback – 1925-1927
With some of the biggest shoes to fill in Notre Dame history, Christie Flanagan had the dubious honor of replacing the Four Horsemen after their 1924 championship season. He filled in admirably, though, leading the Irish backfield to a 23-4-2 record over his three years.
Grantland Rice, who created the “Four Horsemen” moniker, declared Flanagan to be Notre Dame’s “Lone Horseman.” Flanagan may be best known for what sportswriter Tim Cohane called the “Perfect Play.” He broke off a 63-yard touchdown run against Army in 1926, securing a 7-0 victory for Notre Dame in a matchup between two undefeated squads.
#71: John Mastrangelo – Guard – 1944-1946
2x 1st-team All-American (1945, 1946), National Champion (1946)
For those of you keeping track, you may have noticed that John Mastrangelo is the third lineman with that 1946 National Championship designation. I’m not sure if the ’46 line is the best in Notre Dame history, but it has to be up there. With Jim Martin, George Connor, Bill Fischer, George Strohmeyer, Mastrangelo, Ziggy Czarobski, and Jack Zilly, you’d be hard-pressed to find one better in the all of Notre Dame’s storied teams.
Six of those seven players (sorry, Zilly) were named on a first-team All-American team at some point in their careers. Five of the seven are on this list – Strohmeyer just missed it.
So Mastrangelo might have been overshadowed by George Connor and his other talented teammates, but his place on this ranking is unquestioned. A two-time All-American, he was class president at Notre Dame and played in the College All-Star Game after his senior season.
71. John Mastrangelo
72. Christie Flanagan
73. Dave Casper
74. Dave Huffman
75. George Kunz
77. Tommy Yarr
78. Pete Demmerle
79. Nick Rassas
80. John Yonakor
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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