Jan 7, 2014, 11:51 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.
It’s been a little while since the last ND Rank – I’d like to say I was just giving everyone some time to relax after the last update, but I’ve actually been on the road since the end of the semester. If anyone else was lucky enough to experience Notre Dame hockey in Fenway Park, maybe you can excuse my absence. Despite the Irish loss, it was an incredible atmosphere to witness.
But anyway, we crack the top 50 today where we start getting deep into the two-time All-Americans. As always, feel free to voice complaints in the comment section.
#50: Creighton Miller – Halfback – 1941-1943
Consensus All-American (1943), 4th in Heisman (1943), National Champion (1943)
1943: 151 carries for 911 yards, 13 TDs
With Don Miller last week at #51, I went back and forth a lot over which Miller to put ahead of the other. Creighton was the nephew of the famous Horseman, and I finally decided to put the younger Miller on top. Creighton Miller led the nation in rushing in 1943 with 911 yards, while Don Miller was arguably the third best running back on his own team. Not exactly fair when your teammates are Elmer Layden and Jim Crowley, but the point still stands. I have to give Creighton the edge.
He also finished fourth in the Heisman (which did not exist at the time of the Four Horsemen), losing out to Irish quarterback Angelo Bertelli.
Miller was the third overall pick in the 1944 NFL Draft, chosen by the Brooklyn Tigers, but health issues forced him out of sports. He returned to Notre Dame to study law and helped organize the NFLPA as an attorney.
#49: Clarence Ellis – Defensive Back – 1969-1971
2x 1st-team All-American (1970, 1971), Consensus All-American (1971)
1969: 31 tackles, 4 interceptions for 98 yards, TD; 13 pass breakups
1970: 27 tackles, 7 interceptions, 11 pass breakups
1971: 35 tackles, 3 interceptions, 8 pass breakups
Somehow, Ara always seemed to have a tremendous player in the defensive backfield. To be fair, he had great players all over the field every year, but whether it was Nick Rassas, or Tom Schoen, or Jim Smithberger, or Mike Townsend, there was always that playmaker at the back of his world-beating defenses.
Clarence Ellis may have been the best of all Ara’s defensive backs. He was the only two-time All-American of the bunch and is tied for third in career interceptions in Notre Dame history, behind Luther Bradley and Tom MacDonald. His 13 pass breakups in 1969 are still a single-season record, and 32 over his career are also at the top of the Notre Dame record books.
Ellis was selected in the first round of the 1972 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons, where he played for three seasons.
#48: Bobby Taylor – Defensive Back – 1992-1994
2x 1st-team All-American (1993, 1994), Consensus All-American (1994)
1993: 51 tackles, 9 pass breakups, 4 interceptions for 100 yards, TD
1994: 46 tackles, 5 pass breakups, 1 interception, 1 fumble recovery for 57 yards, TD
A shutdown corner for Lou Holtz’s ‘90s teams, Bobby Taylor switched from safety his freshman year, becoming a highly decorated player at his new position. He was a two-time All-American and a consensus pick in 1994. He was Notre Dame’s only All-American that year and he was the last player to receive such honors before a long drought that ended with Shane Walton in 2002.
Taylor was also a crucial piece of the 1993 team that went 11-1, sharing a defensive backfield with fellow All-American Jeff Burris. After his college career, Taylor was selected in the second round of the NFL Draft by the Eagles and was first-team All-Pro in 2002.
Here are some cool highlights of Taylor’s career at Notre Dame. Link here if video doesn’t work.
#47: Al Ecuyer – Guard – 1956-1958
2x 1st-team All-American (1957, 1958), Consensus All-American (1957)
1957: 88 tackles, INT
1958: 78 tackles, 2 INTs
A captain of the 1958 team, Al Ecuyer started at right guard all three of his eligible years, earning All-America honors the last two. In each of those years he led the team in tackles during the days of two-way football. In 1957 he had 18 tackles in a game against Iowa, which set a Notre Dame record at the time.
In a ranking dominated by players under Leahy, Parseghian, and Holtz, Ecuyer was able to achieve great success under Terry Brennan. He was the only first-team All-American for the Irish in 1957.
After Notre Dame, Ecuyer played in the Canadian Football League for 11 seasons and went on to become a vice president at Prudential Securities.
#46: Larry DiNardo – Offensive Guard – 1968-1970
2x 1st-team All-American (1969, 1970), Consensus All-American (1970)
A captain of the 1970 team that was a win away from the national championship, Larry DiNardo led one of the best offenses in Irish history. With Joe Theismann and Tom Gatewood setting records, Notre Dame gained 510.5 yards per game en route to a 10-1 record.
A three-year starter at left guard, DiNardo was a stalwart on Ara Parseghian’s talented offensive lines. Also stellar in the classroom, he was an Academic All-American as well, earning post-graduate scholarships.
Part of a football family, DiNardo’s brother Gerry also played guard at Notre Dame – coming in at #90 on this list. Larry’s son Jack also recently finished his career on the defensive line at Northwestern.
46. Larry DiNardo
47. Al Ecuyer
48. Bobby Taylor
49. Clarence Ellis
50. Creighton Miller
52. Alan Page
53. Vagas Ferguson
54. Jack Snow
55. Greg Marx
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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