Jan 21, 2014, 6:36 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.
With the news that Notre Dame is signing with Under Armour this summer coming out today, maybe someone can photoshop some UA logos on these pictures. All of today’s players come from the Champion (or pre-Champion) days, as so many of them seem to do.
But we’ve cracked the top 40 of ND Rank with a Leahy guy, a Brennan/Kuharich guy, two Rocknes and an Ara, so I’m a little far chronologically from the Under Armour era.
#40: Bob Dove – End – 1940-1942
2x Consensus All-American (1941, 1942), Knute Rockne Trophy (1942)
Our first two-time consensus All-American, Bob Dove was a part of the first teams Frank Leahy took over. Those two teams went a combined 15-2-3, finishing third and sixth in the final AP polls. Dove caught three touchdowns in his career – from Heisman winner Angelo Bertelli – but was better known as a force on both lines. He won the Knute Rockne Memorial Trophy for best lineman in the country in 1942.
In 1940 Dove became the first sophomore to start for Notre Dame since 1929. One game that season he broke his nose, but elected to play out the season rather than fix it and take games off. The next week a hard hit re-broke the nose.
Inducted into the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame in 2000, Dove also played eight years in the NFL with a Pro Bowl bid in 1950.
#39: Monty Stickles – End – 1957-1959
2x 1st-team All-American (1958, 1959), Consensus All-American (1959), 9th in Heisman (1959)
1958: 20 receptions for 328 yards, 7 TDs; 31 tackles, 2 pass breakups, 2 fumble recoveries
1959: 11 receptions for 235 yards, 2 TDs; 52 tackles, 2 pass breakups, 1 fumble recovery
Playing at the tail end of the two-way era, Monty Stickles was one of the most versatile players in Notre Dame history. From 1953 to 1963, the NCAA required teams to move to a one-platoon system in which a player who left the game could not return.
Stickles was a playmaker on both sides of the ball while also taking on placekicking duties. With his seven touchdowns, 15 PATs, and one field goal, he was responsible for 60 points in 1958, by far more than any other Irish player. He led the team in receptions and receiving yards that year and finished fourth in tackles the following year.
Drafted by San Francisco in the first round of the 1960 NFL Draft, Stickles was a chippy, controversial NFL player who played eight seasons with the 49ers and one with the Saints.
#38: Elmer Layden – Fullback / Halfback – 1922-1924
Consensus All-American (1924), 2nd-team All-American (1923), National Champion (1924)
The last of the Four Horsemen, Elmer Layden played fullback his final two years after starting at left halfback his sophomore season. Despite being the biggest at 6-foot, 162 pounds, he was still the fastest member of the group – supposedly he could run a 10-second 100-yard dash.
After leading Notre Dame to the national championship in 1924, Layden became the head coach of Columbia College in Dubuque before taking the job at Duquesne. In 1934 he moved on to coach the Irish, posting a 47-13-3 record in seven seasons, only losing more than two games once.
One of his highlights as coach was winning the 1935 game against Ohio State, which I’ve already talked about in the bios for Wayne Millner and Bill Shakespeare. After coaching at his alma mater, Layden became the commissioner of the NFL.
Along with George Gipp and Knute Rockne, Layden was enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame in its inaugural class of 1951.
#37: Joe Kurth – Tackle – 1930-1932
2x 1st-team All-American (1931, 1932), Unanimous All-American (1932), National Champion (1930)
One of only three Notre Dame unanimous All-Americans on the offensive line – in addition to Ed Beinor and Aaron Taylor – Joe Kurth was one of the last greats to play under Rockne. He started at right tackle for three years, including on Rockne’s last team – the 1930 title team that finished 10-0.
That 1930 line featured Ed Kosky, Al Culver, Tom Kassis, Tommy Yarr, Bert Metzger, and Tom Conley, making it one of the best in Irish history. Playing possibly the toughest schedule in the country, the undefeated Irish put of 26.5 points per game, which was 10th best in the nation.
The championship was sealed with a 27-0 drubbing of Southern Cal in Los Angeles. While the Irish offense was potent, the defense managed to shut out the 8-1 Trojans, who put up an astounding 38.2 points per game that season. It was only the second time USC scored under 27 for the season.
After contributing heavily to that team, Kurth was a first-team All-American the next two years, played in the East-West Shrine game in 1933 and was picked up by the Green Bay Packers.
#36: Joe Theismann – Quarterback – 1968-1970
1st-team All-American (1970), 2nd in Heisman (1970)
1970: 164 completions on 284 attempts for 2,605 yards, 23 total TDs, 15 INTs
For a man who changed the pronunciation of his name to rhyme with “Heisman,” it’s a little sad that Joe Theismann only finished second. But Theismann’s Notre Dame career was anything but disappointing. His 20-3-2 record as a starter is eighth in Irish history among quarterbacks with at least 12 starts.
He took over for injured senior Terry Hanratty late in the 1968 season, leading the Irish to three top-five finishes. He is most remembered for the 1970 season, which ended with a No. 2 ranking following a win over top-ranked Texas in the Cotton Bowl. Theismann and Tom Gatewood connected for 1,166 yards and 8 TDs that season, one of the best duos in Irish lore. In addition to being an All-American and Heisman runner-up that season, he was named an Academic All-American as well.
Theismann went on to have a very successful pro career, winning a Super Bowl and an MVP for the Redskins. He left Notre Dame the leader in attempts in a season, completions in a season, career completion percentage, passing yards in a game (still held with 526), passing yards in a career, passing yards in a season, touchdowns in a season, and touchdowns in a career.
Here’s a pretty great video of former sports information director Roger Valdiserri explaining how Joe “Theesman” became “Theismann, as in Heisman.”
I posted this video last week for Tom Gatewood, but watch it again for Theismann, playing one of the best games of Ara’s era.
Rumor has it next time might feature a couple players from the adidas era, so stick around.
36. Joe Theismann
37. Joe Kurth
38. Elmer Layden
39. Monty Stickles
40. Bob Dove
42. Jim Crowley
43. Golden Tate
44. Tom Gatewood
45. Jim Seymour
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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