Dec 21, 2013, 8:06 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.
The semester is officially over, and the Irish are getting geared up for the Pinstripe Bowl in a week. Between that and the announcement of the next three schedules, Notre Dame fans should have plenty to talk about right now. In case it’s not enough, though, get your complaints ready for this week’s ND Rank. We’re getting close to the top 50, going from 56 through 60 today.
#60: Jim White – Tackle – 1942-1943
Consensus All-American (1943), 9th in Heisman (1943), National Champion (1943)
It’s pretty remarkable for a tackle to place in the Heisman voting – without stats it seems the sports media are lost. The last offensive lineman to get such considerations was Bryant McKinnie in 2001.
In 1943, the award went to Irish quarterback Angelo Bertelli, with halfback Creighton Miller getting fourth and tackle Jim White in ninth. White only started one year for the Irish, but he sure made it count, becoming one of five Notre Dame first-team All-Americans in the national championship season.
Seventy years later, White is the last offensive lineman (not counting tight ends) for the Irish to finish in the Heisman voting. The only other player in Notre Dame history to achieve that was Ed Beinor in 1938 (also ninth).
#59: Gus Dorais – Quarterback – 1910-1913
Consensus All-American (1913)
Gus Dorais is best known for popularizing the forward pass as the quarterback throwing to Knute Rockne in 1913, but his contributions go even beyond this monumental achievement. Dorais was the first All-American and consensus All-American in Notre Dame history.
As quarterback, Dorais led his teams to a 24-1-3 record, one of the greatest records among all Notre Dame signal callers. Only Johnny Lujack, Harry Stuhldreher, and Frank Carideo have better records among multi-year starters.
Although this stat is somewhat meaningless with restrictions on freshmen for much of Notre Dame history, it is worth noting that Dorais was the only Irish quarterback to start the majority of the games in each of his four years until Steve Beuerlein (1983-1986).
Also the team’s placekicker, Dorais was captain of the 1913 team that put Notre Dame on the map by upsetting Army at West Point 35-13 thanks to the forward pass. After graduating, he was a coach for the next 40 years, earning his way into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Here’s a pretty good video about Dorais and the popularization of the forward pass. Link here if video doesn’t work.
#58: Tony Rice – Quarterback – 1987-1989
1st-team All-American (1989), 4th in Heisman (1989), Johnny Unitas Award (1989), National Champion (1988)
1988: 121 carries for 700 yards, 70 completions on 138 attempts for 1,176 yards, 17 total TDs, 7 INTs
1989: 174 carries for 884 yards, 68 completions on 137 attempts for 1,122 yards, 9 total TDs, 9 INTs
Tony Rice is a tough guy to rate. He doesn’t have the gaudy stats of some quarterbacks – his two passing touchdowns in 1989 couldn’t quite overcome Andre Ware’s 46 in the Heisman race. He never had the across-the-board consensus All-American honors, only getting a nod from Football News.
But Rice was the driving force of one of the great runs in Notre Dame history, winning 23 straight games in 1988 and ’89. He didn’t have a ton of yards or touchdowns because he didn’t pass a lot in Lou’s option-run attack. But when he did, he was very efficient – averaging 8.6 yards per attempt in his career.
To give the national-championship clinching 1989 Fiesta Bowl as an example, Rice led the Irish to a 34-21 victory, only throwing 11 passes, but completing seven of them for 213 yards and two touchdowns.
Rice was the leading rusher and passer in his final two seasons with the Irish, compiling a 24-1 record in that span. He did end up racking up some accolades when his career was done, finishing fourth in the Heisman and receiving the Johnny Unitas Award for top senior quarterback.
For the 125 Years of Notre Dame Football project, here’s a great interview with Rice about the 1988 #1 vs. #2 USC game to close the regular season. Link here if video doesn’t work.
#57: Tom Regner – Offensive Guard / Defensive Tackle – 1964-1966
Consensus All-American (1966), 2nd-team All-American (1965), National Champion (1966)
Yet another player who excelled after a position switch, Tom Regner made the move from defensive tackle to offensive guard after the 1964 season. Despite recording 68 tackles as a sophomore, he was apparently better served on the offensive line.
Regner started at left guard in both 1965 and 1966, earning All-America honors each season. He was one of four consensus All-Americans on the ’66 championship team, along with Alan Page, Jim Lynch, and Nick Eddy.
He was selected in the first round of the 1967 NFL Draft, playing six seasons for the Houston Oilers.
#56: Tom Schoen – Safety – 1965-1967
Consensus All-American (1967), 2nd-team All-American (1966), National Champion (1966)
1966: 7 interceptions for 118 yards, 29 punt returns for 253 yards, 3 total TDs
1967: 52 tackles; 4 interceptions for 108 yards, 42 punt returns for 447 yards, 2 total TDs
Narrowly missing unanimous All-American status in 1967 thanks to the Newspaper Enterprise Association, Tom Schoen was a two-year standout for Ara Parseghian at the safety position. The backup quarterback in 1965, he found his role in the defensive backfield the next season.
That ’66 team had 12 players at least on a third-team All-America selection, so it’s easy for Schoen to get lost in the shuffle on one of the most talented teams in Irish history. But he really stood out in 1967, becoming one of the best players in the nation.
Schoen’s play-making abilities on both defense and special teams made him a worthy successor to Nick Rassas. He had 167 punt return yards in one game against Pittsburgh in 1967. That’s more than Notre Dame had in 2013 (113) and 2012 (46) combined.
56. Tom Schoen
57. Tom Regner
58. Tony Rice
59. Gus Dorais
60. Jim White
62. Shane Walton
63. Tom Clements
64. John Scully
65. Kevin Hardy
67. Mike Townsend
68. Jim Kelly
69. Jack Cannon
70. Pat Filley
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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