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Notre Dame 2017 Freshman Numbers & History: Defense

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The Brian Kelly era has seen a lot of production from the number 17, and freshman safety Isaiah Robertson (above) could be next.
Photo by BlueandGold.com

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With the freshman numbers officially released/approved by Notre Dame recently, we look at some of the most famous figures who wore those numbers.


DT Kurt Hinish — 41

An unusually low number for a lineman, we wouldn’t be surprised if later in his career he gets into “the 90s.” The lone All-American at Notre Dame to don this number was 1927-29 tackle Ted Twomey.

Safety Matthias Farley (2012-15) quietly posted 192 tackles and eight interceptions during a more than solid career. Linebacker Mike Goolsby (2001-04) produced 177 tackles.


DT Darnell Ewell — 94

Defensive end Willie Fry (1973, 1975-77) was a two-time captain who was the bookend opposite Ross Browner while compiling 214 tackles, 29 for lost yardage and becoming a second-round pick.

Nose tackle Mike Griffin (1983-87) had 139 career stops, while Jarron Jones had 108 and blocked six kicks. Ewell too will likely be a nose tackle.


DE Kofi Wardlow — 47

As with Hinish, another unusual number for a lineman. The two stalwarts were running back Nick Eddy (1964-66), third in the Heisman balloting as a senior, and two-time All-American and two-time captain Ned Bolcar (1985-89) at linebacker, who was succeeded by seven-year NFL veteran Pete Bercich (1990-93)

Lineman Chuck Sweeney (1935-27 earned consensus All-America notice as a senior.

An underrated defensive end was John Hankerd (1977-80), who recorded 177 career tackles, 28 for loss. If Wardlow rivals his career, it would be outstanding.


DE Jonathan MacCollister — 92

No All-Americans for this number but many complementary figures along the line, led by Joe Gramke (1978-81), who recorded 128 career stops. Greg Dingens (1982-85), Bryan Flannery (1986-89) and Kyle Budinscak (2001-04) also had their moments.


DE Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa — 95

Defensive end Victor Abiamiri (2003-06) was the standout with 21.5 career sacks that resulted in him becoming a second-round pick. No one else was drafted, but Junior Bryant (1989-92) ended up playing nine years in the NFL.


LB David Adams — 35

Although an injury cut short his senior year, tackle Frank Leahy (1928-30), who would win four national titles as the head coach, will always be the most famous No. 35.

Halfback Bill Wolski (1963-65) was the top rusher for the 1964 “Resurrection” team, and then fullbacks — younger readers might be asking, “what’s that?” — John Cieszkowski (1969-71) and Ryan Mihalko (1987-90) became strong complementary figures.

Punter Ben Turk (2009-12) also provided quality work as a holder for the 12-1 team in 2012.


LB Drew White — 40

This number had two consecutive heydays in different decades.

First, middle linebacker/nose guard Gary Potempa (1971-73) was the second-leading tackler for the 1973 national champs, and then running back Terry Eurick (1974-77) was a tri-captain for the 1977 national champs.

But the top figures would be the Brooks brothers at running back, first Tony Brooks (1987-91), the second leading rusher for the 1988 national champs, and then Reggie Brooks (1989-92), who placed fifth in the 1992 Heisman voting.


ROV Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah — 30

Like the aforementioned No. 35, this was a fullback number — and the best in Notre Dame history.

First there was Wayne “The Train” Bullock (1972-74), the all-time rushing and touchdowns leader under Ara Parseghian, and the top ground gainer for the 1973 national champs. He was succeeded by Jerome Heavens (1975-78), who became the school’s all-time career rusher as a senior, breaking George Gipp’s 58-year mark, and rushed for more than 1,000 yards, when including the bowl, during the 1977 national title campaign.

Finally, Frank Stams (1984-88) also started at fullback — until blossoming into a consensus All-America rush end for the 1988 national champs.


S Jordan Genmark Heath — 13

He will share this number with classmate/quarterback Avery Davis.

As stated yesterday, No. 13 was a lucky number throughout the Lou Holtz era from 1987-96 with six-year NFL player Pat Eilers (1987-89), a regular at flanker during the school record 23-game winning streak, first-round cornerback Tom Carter (1990-92) and defensive end Bert Berry (1993-96), who played professionally 13 years and was All-Pro in 1994.

Former QB recruit Danny Spond (2010-13) became an outstanding drop linebacker for the 12-1 unit in 2012. He took the number after current Irish QBs coach Tom Rees (2010-13) switched from 13 to 11 following his freshman year in which he was 4-0 with it as the starter.


S Isaiah Robertson — 17

This number’s peak has come under current head coach Brian Kelly, first with safety Zeke Motta (2009-12), a stalwart safety on the outstanding 2012 defense, and then Sam linebacker James Onwualu (2013-16) a captain last season.

Other standouts were 1956 captain/wideout Jim Morse (1954-56), who underwrote the school’s Field Turf, and safeties Mike Crotty (1969-71) and Brian Magee (1992-95).


K/P Jonathan Doerer — 39

At the turn of this century, the Irish received very good linebacker play first from second-team All-American Anthony Denman (1997-2000) with 207 career tackles, 23 for lost yardage, and then Brandon Hoyte (2002-05), a team captain with 287 career tackles, 35 for lost yardage (12 of them sacks). Both helped propel BCS bids as seniors.

And we have to laud fullbacks again from the 1980s, first Larry Moriarty (1980-82), who would play nine years in the NFL, and then the late Braxston Banks (1986-88).

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