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ND Rank: #66-70

Dec 10, 2013, 1:02 PM EDT

Halfback Bill Shakespeare had the game-winning pass in the 1935 Game of the Century against Ohio State

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.

All right, I’m moving a bit slow through these rankings. We’re getting close to finals week here at ND, so if anyone wants to write a paper on The Brothers Karamazov for me, I can probably pop another one of these out by tomorrow.

It’s been almost a week since my last post, so hopefully you haven’t forgotten, but I’m in the middle of ranking the top 100 players in Notre Dame history. Here’s #66 through #70:

#70: Pat Filley – Guard – 1942-1944


Pat Filley

Consensus All-American (1943), 2nd-team All-American (1944), National Champion (1943)

Now, I’m not sure, but I don’t think 5’8”, 178 pounds gets you on the All-America list for linemen anymore. But even back then, 5’8” was a little on the small side for linemen. I’m not sure that mattered to Pat Filley, though, who was a two-year starter at guard, including on the ’43 championship team. The South Bend native was the only two-time captain for the Irish between 1919 and 1968.

Filley is also our first player in the rankings to be named a consensus All-American in his junior season, and his stock might have been hurt the next year due to, you know, his teammates going off to war. In 1943, he was one of five Irish players to win consensus All-American status.

Remember, this was still the time of two-way football. That means if you made a national college all-star team of 11 players, nearly half of them came from Notre Dame. But in 1944, Filley was the only one left of the five.

After graduation, Filley worked in Cornell’s athletic department, eventually becoming associate athletic director.

#69: Jack Cannon – Guard – 1927-1929


Jack Cannon

Consensus All-American (1929), National Champion (1929)

Dubbed the best guard in Notre Dame history by Grantland Rice in 1947, Jack Cannon only got one year as a starter to impress the legendary sportswriter.

In that one year (1929), he was one of only two Notre Dame first-team All-Americans, tied for the lowest number for a championship team (1973). The other player was legendary quarterback Frank Carideo, but we’ll get to him later.

Cannon was on everyone’s list for All-American except the North American Newspaper Alliance. Unsurprisingly, the paper stopped picking All-Americans by 1937.

Cannon led a dominant 9-0 team that surrendered just 4.2 points per game and defeated Army 7-0 to cap off the national championship run. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1965.

#68: Jim Kelly – End – 1961-1963


Jim Kelly

2x 1st-team All-American (1962, 1963)

1962: 41 receptions for 523 yards, 4 TDs

1963: 18 receptions for 264 yards, 2 TDs

Jim Kelly’s stats might not look that impressive in this day and age, but I’m all about historical perspective. In 1962 he caught 41 passes for 523 yards and 4 touchdowns. The rest of his teammates combined (19 of them!) caught 49 passes for 633 yards and 3 touchdowns. He set a Notre Dame record for receptions in a season with that All-American junior campaign.

An often commenter on the blog, 1historian will be glad to hear what I have to say next. Kelly was the first end in a tremendous succession that puts the 21st century Irish tight end stars to shame. From 1962 to 1977, Notre Dame’s ends (split and wide) included, in order: Kelly, Jack Snow, Jim Seymour, Tom Gatewood, Dave Casper, Pete Demmerle and Ken MacAfee. I’ve already talked about Casper and Demmerle, but the rest are sure to come on this list.

That’s a truly remarkable run.

#67: Mike Townsend – Defensive Back – 1971-1973


Mike Townsend

Consensus All-American (1973), National Champion (1973)

1972: 34 tackles, 10 interceptions

1973: 23 tackles, 3 interceptions, 3 fumble recoveries

In a constantly evolving game, it’s hard for school records to stand up much over time. The game moves faster with more plays and more scoring as athletes get bigger and stronger.

One of the records that has stood the test of time is Mike Townsend’s 10 interceptions in 1972. No Irish player has ever reached that mark before or since. That number was also good for best in the nation in ’72 – and that arguably wasn’t even Townsend’s best season.

After playing cornerback his junior year, Townsend moved to free safety as a captain of the 1973 championship team. Despite the position change, he still forced six turnovers and was named a consensus All-American.

#66: Bill Shakespeare – Halfback – 1933-1935


Bill Shakespeare

1st-team All-American (1935), 3rd in Heisman (1935)

1935: 104 rushes for 374 yards, 4 TDs; 267 passing yards, 3 TDs

At least a two-seed in a Notre Dame “best names” bracket, Bill Shakespeare is listed as a halfback, but I think that’s because head coach Elmer Layden was forced to give him some kind of position designation. He led the team in passing (in ’34 and ’35), rushing (’35), punting (’34 and ’35), kickoff returns (’34 and ’35), and scoring (’35). In the first Heisman trophy voting in ‘35, Shakespeare finished third behind Jay Berwanger and Monk Meyer and ahead of Pepper Constable (no, I’m still not making these names up).

Shakespeare may be best known for his game-winning touchdown pass in the 1935 game of the century to Wayne Millner (#82 on the list). That contest saw the Irish score three fourth-quarter touchdowns, in what was voted the greatest college football game of all time in 1969.

The original jack-of-all-trades before Paul Hornung made it cool (but I guess Gipp was first), Shakespeare doesn’t get a lot of attention from Notre Dame fans despite his outstanding career. The College Football Hall of Fame apparently took note, though, because he was inducted in 1983.

I already showed this clip for Millner’s bio, but here it is again for Shakespeare. Sorry for the repeat, but there’s not a lot on youtube for these five guys. Plus, the narration is fantastic (“What’s this? Another pass?”). Link here if video doesn’t work.

I’ll hopefully keep the blogs coming during finals, so don’t tune out just yet. Nos. 61-65 coming soon.



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. 1historian - Dec 10, 2013 at 2:41 PM

    Thanks for making note of my erudite, relevant, wise and incisive contributions along the way young man,

    A few corrections if you will allow me:

    “Kelly was the first end in a tremendous succession that puts the 21st century Irish tight end stars to shame.”

    Wrong, aka no way, aka – WRONG.

    1) You should differentiate between split ends (olden days now known as wide receivers) and TIGHT ENDS.

    Kelly, Seymour, Snow & Gatewood – wide receivers, Casper & MacAfee (and Jim Mutscheller and Leon Hart) – tight ends.

    2) In my erudite, relevant, wise and incisive way I stated that the tradition of great Notre Dame TIGHT ENDS began with Leon Hart, who won the 1949 Heisman Trophy and is the last lineman to win the trophy.

    THAT was what I originally stated, bringing forth a “relax, man” from you. I followed your instructions and did so, only to be confronted by some wrong information.

    Yours is a good idea, but – and I say this in an entirely friendly fashion – get your facts straight.

    OMT – are you sure that is Jim Kelly? I rode back east from ND on a train at Christmas of 1962 with a guy who said he was Jim Kelly and he sure didn’t look like the guy in the picture. Of course the memory is over 50 years old and all of us got seriously hammered on the train ride and Jim got into a fight with someone on the train (and hammered him) but that’s just an aside.

    I bid you adieu.

    I’ll be watching.

    • Craig Chval ('15) - Dec 10, 2013 at 2:55 PM

      Yes, I should have been more specific about split/tight end, and I put in an edit to make it more accurate. Still, though, it’s hard to deny what an impressive string of ends (whether split or wide) those 15 years produced. Of course, Leon Hart is the greatest end Notre Dame has seen, but I was talking about the 1962-1977 range.

      I’ll take your word on the Jim Kelly pic since I found it on Google. doesn’t have a bio for him, so I’ll do some digging in the archives this week to see if I can find one. Thanks for the input.

  2. 1historian - Dec 10, 2013 at 4:02 PM

    Yours is an excellent idea about the greatest 100, sure to produce some heated arguments, which is good with the off-season looming. As for a picture of (Jim) Kelly – check the team pictures for the years when he played.

    No arguments about the quality of the ends 1962-1977.

    Leon Hart – The tradition of great tight ends STARTED with him, IMO you should start there too.

    Your idea – Your call.

    My initial reaction to you was “a young whippersnapper” and I would venture that yours to me was along the lines of “old fart.” Understandable reactions on both sides, but I would say that we’re way past that – I look forward to many friendly arguments over the next few months.

    • Craig Chval ('15) - Dec 11, 2013 at 11:46 AM

      I hope you don’t take anything as a slight to Leon Hart. I think you won’t be disappointed about his place on this ranking. It’s just when I’m talking about 21st century tight ends or ’60s and ’70s tight (or split) ends, it’s not really relevant to always bring up Leon Hart.

      By the way, great catch on the Jim Kelly pic. has pictures for the vast majority of these players, but not for him. Luckily I found one in his file in the media relations archives.

  3. murphycolin10 - Dec 12, 2013 at 1:28 PM

    This post is interesting! I admire that you put lots of effort into your posts! I can’t wait to see the rest of this list unfold!

  4. murphycolin10 - Dec 12, 2013 at 1:31 PM

    Which one of these 5 players is your favorite and why? I prefer Jim Kelly because of his impressive statistics for that time period.

  5. irishrugby990 - Dec 22, 2013 at 9:08 PM

    Another feather in Shakespeare’s cap, he still holds the school record for the longest punt (86 yards), achieved against Pitt in 1935.

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