Notre Dame Fighting Irish Football’s Eyes Of Texas In Recruiting
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Notre Dame’s Eyes Of Texas

The commitment this week from 2022 Denison, Texas four-star running back Jadarian Price should end Notre Dame’s drought of not signing anyone from the Lone Star State the past two cycles.

By our count, 109 Texas natives have seen action in a Notre Dame football uniform, most in the past 50 years, making it our No. 7-ranked state for most contributions to the program.

Notre Dame signed two in 2017 with tight end Brock Wright (Cypress) and slot receiver Avery Davis (Cedar Hill), and two more in 2019 with defensive end NaNa Osafo-Mensah (Fort Worth) and offensive guard Hunter Spears (Garland).

Here is our All-Texas Team for Notre Dame:

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Notre Dame Fighting Irish football running back Cam McDaniel
Cam McDaniel, Notre Dame’s top rusher in 2013 and a captain in 2014, had been the program’s most recent running back from Texas. (Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY Sports)

Quarterback

Carlyle Holiday (San Antonio, 2000-04)

Holiday directed an 8-0 start in 2002 and finished his career with 2,876 passing yards and 898 rushing yards before moving to receiver in 2003 when freshman Brady Quinn took command in the fourth game. Holiday was a wideout in the NFL for three years.

Running Backs

Christie Flanagan (Port Arthur, 1925-27) and Cam McDaniel (Coppell, 2011-14)

Flanagan was a two-time All-American for Knute Rockne and led the team in rushing (1,822 and 6.4 yards per carry) all three of his varsity seasons.

In 2013, McDaniel became the first Notre Dame back from Texas since Flanagan to lead the team in rushing, accumulating 705 yards, and he was named a captain in 2014.

Honorable mention to Coy McGee (Longview, 1945-48).

Wide Receivers

Tim Brown (Dallas, 1984-87) and David Givens (Humble, 1998-2001)

The 1987 Heisman Trophy winner and one of six Notre Dame players enshrined in both the College and Pro Football Halls of Fame, Brown still holds the two highest single-season all-purpose yardage totals in a season at Notre Dame, accumulating 1,937 as a junior in 1986, followed by 1,847 the ensuing year.

Givens caught 72 passes at Notre Dame and achieved greater fame in the NFL, where he won two Super Bowl rings with the New England Patriots (catching a TD in both games).

Three honorable mentions: Omar Jenkins (Dallas, 2000-03), who caught 73 passes in his last two seasons; and then the 2013 signed duo with famous fathers, Corey Robinson (San Antonio, 2013-15) and Torii Hunter Jr.: Robinson snared 65 passes his first three seasons before concussions ended his career, but he served as Notre Dame’s student body president. Hunter grabbed 73 passes and served as a captain in 2016 before turning his attention to baseball.

Tight End

Durham Smythe (Belton, 2013-17)

Starting for the Miami Dolphins the past two years, Smythe had 28 career catches at Notre Dame, six for scores, and developed into a fourth-round pick.

However, no tight end from Texas is more famous in Fighting Irish lore than Robin Weber (Dallas, 1972-76), who grabbed the No. 1 pass in school history, the 35-yard heave from quarterback Tom Clements on third-and-eight from the Notre Dame 3-yard line in the closing minutes to clinch the 24-23 victory versus No. 1 Alabama in the 1973 Sugar Bowl for the national title.

As a starter in 1974, Weber caught 13 passes for 206 yards before a midseason injury slowed his football career.

Offensive Linemen

Dave Huffman (Dallas, 1975-78), Tim Huffman (Dallas, 1977-80), Jordan Black (Rowlett, 1999-2002), Mike Gandy (Garland, 1996-2000) and John Dampeer (Kermit, 1970-72)

Dave Huffman edged out 1946 second-team UP All-American George Strohmeyer (McAllen) and four-year starter Bob Morton (2003-06, McKinney) at center. Huffman was an All-American, three-year starter and a 1977 national champion. He also starred 12 years in the NFL.

Little brother Tim was a three-year starter at guard and played five years for the Green Bay Packers.

Black started all four seasons at Notre Dame, 42 games total, lining up as a left tackle or right guard, and had a 10-year NFL career.

Left tackle Gandy started two years at right guard for the Irish before becoming a nine-year mainstay in the NFL at tackle.

Dampeer started at right tackle for the 1970 Notre Dame team that finished No. 2 in the country, and he was elected a co-captain in 1972.

Joining Strohmeyer and Morton (also a guard) on our second team are tackles Justin Hall (Plano, 1988-92) and Rob Martinovich (Houston, 1976-79) and guard Randy Ellis (Pearland, 1979-82).

Defensive Linemen

Bert Berry (Humble, 1993-96), Wally Kleine (Midland, 1983-86) and Kapron Lewis-Moore (Weatherford, 2009-12) and Cedric Hilliard (Arlington, 2000-03)

Berry cracked the starting lineup several times as a freshman for the 11-1 Irish in 1993 and recorded 10 sacks as a senior. He produced 65 sacks during his 13-year NFL career.

Kleine was recruited as a 6-9 tight end but became a force along the defensive line, recording 163 career tackles (39 for lost yardage, 13 sacks) en route to becoming a second-round pick.

Lewis-Moore was a four-year starting end, finishing with 180 tackles, 22 stops for loss and 12 sacks, while helping the 2012 Irish reach the BCS National Championship Game.

Hilliard effectively clogged the middle much of his career and played in the NFL three seasons.

Honorable mention to Grant Irons (The Woodlands, 1997-2001), who began his career at inside linebacker and was beset by a litany of injuries. Still, he became the program’s 13th two-time captain (2000-01) and played five seasons in the NFL.

Linebackers

Bobby Leopold (Port Arthur, 1976-79), Anthony Denman (Rusk, 1997-2000) and Tyreo Harrison (Sulphur Springs, 1998-2001)

Leopold recorded 180 tackles and six interceptions, returning three of them for touchdowns — a Notre Dame record for linebackers. As a sophomore for the 1977 national champs, he made 53 stops and four interceptions in a reserve capacity. He also won a Super Bowl ring with the San Francisco 49ers in 1981.

Denman received second-team All-America recognition in 2000 while earning MVP honors for an Irish team that went to the Fiesta Bowl. He recorded 207 career tackles, with 84 (14 for lost yardage) as a senior.

An honorable mention All-American, Harrison notched a team-high 91 tackles (11 for lost yardage) as a senior, and was the recipient of the Nick Pietrosante Award, as voted by his teammates.

Honorable mention to Jimmy Friday (Missouri City, 1995-98), who finished second in tackles (79) as a senior and first as a junior (109).

Defensive Backs

Bobby Taylor (Longview, 1992-94), Vontez Duff (Copperas Cove, 2000-03), A’Jani Sanders (Houston, 1996-99) and Gerome Sapp (Houston, 1999-2002)

Taylor broke into the starting lineup as a freshman free safety for the 10-1-1 Irish in 1992, had one of the best seasons ever by an Irish cornerback for the 11-1 unit in 1993 and turned pro after his junior campaign in 1994, when he received All-America notice. The second-round pick became a Pro Bowl performer.

In 2002, cornerback Duff and safety Sapp helped comprise one of the best Notre Dame secondary units in the last 30 years. Duff earned third-team All-America notice (the other corner, Shane Walton, was a first-team selection), while Sapp teamed with fellow future pro Glenn Earl as playmaking safeties. Duff played three years in the NFL while Sapp was there five years.

In 1999, Sanders led Notre Dame in tackles (91) and finished with 225 during his career. He also intercepted eight passes, two in a 1997 upset of LSU (24-6) in Baton Rouge.

Also deserving notice at nickel is Greg Lane (Austin, 1990-93), a three-year starter.

Specialists

Punter Hunter Smith (Sherman, 1995-98), kicker Nick Tausch (Plano, 2009-13) and kick/punt returner Allen Rossum (Dallas, 1994-97)

Rossum holds the NCAA record for most career touchdowns on runbacks with nine — three on interceptions, three on kickoffs and three on punt returns. He became the lone player in NFL history to tally a touchdown return with five different franchises.

As a freshman in 2009, Tausch converted a then school-record 14 straight field goals and became the first kicker in Irish history to make five field goals in a game without a miss, achieving that in a 37-30 overtime victory versus Washington.

Four-year starter Smith averaged 41.2 yards per punt at Notre Dame and enjoyed a 12-year NFL career, highlighted by a Super Bowl title at Indianapolis.

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