Notre Dames All-Ohio Team: No. 1
With our final nine states, we assembed a full starting unit: 11 on offense, 11 defense, plus special teams. Ohio is No. 1
Players Who Have Seen Action At Notre Dame: By our count 315, with quarterback Malik Zaire (Dayton), defensive tackle Jacob Matuska (Columbus) and nose guard Daniel Cage (Cincinnati) joining the club last year.
Most Recent To Sign Scholarship: After landing three in 2014, the Irish inked three more thie February with cornerbacks Nick Coleman (Dayton) and Shaun Crawford(Lakewood) and defensive tackle Elijah Taylor (Cincinnati).
Top Player From Ohio: Defensive end Ross Browner (Warren) started and dominated from day one for the 1973 national champs and later in his career won the Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award while earning a second unanimous All-America honor for the 1977 national title winners. He had 77 tackles for loss during his career. No one else has more than 44.5.
"Jungle Jim" Martin (Cleveland) was a larger-than-life figure as well for the 1946-49 teams that never lost a game. While teammate Leon Hart won the Heisman as a senior, College Football Hall of Fame inductee Martin and decorated World War II veteran Martin was voted the best athlete on campus.
Personnel Overview: Of the 22 starters on offense and defense on our All-Ohio team, 11 are in the College Football Hall of Fame, and several others could make it later. Illinois is a distant second with six.
Notre Dame's All-Ohio Team
Quarterback: Brady Quinn (Dublin, 2003-06)
Quinn pretty much holds all the career passing records for the Irish while leading back-to-back BCS bids, and he was the first Notre Dame player since Paul Hornung in 1955-56 to finish in the Top 5 of the Heisman Trophy balloting two straight years. He was good enough where we opted to put two other Ohio QBs for Notre Dame who are in the College Football Hall of Fame in the defensive secondary to get our best 22 on the field.
Second Team: George Ratterman (Cincinnati, 1945-46) - During the 1946 national title run, he alternated with future Heisman winner John Lujack each quarter (other than versus Army). Ratterman also played 10 years in the NFL.
Third Team: George Izo (Barberton, 1957-59) - The No. 1 pick of the 1960 NFL Draft.
Fourth Team: Rick Slager (Columbus, 1973-76) - He made 19 starts during Dan Devine's first two seasons.
Running Backs: Don Miller (Defiance, 1922-24), Ray Eichenlaub (Columbus, 1911-14)
Both are in the College Football Hall of Fame. Miller was the top rusher among The Four Horsemen (1,933 career rushing yards, the most by an Irish player from Ohio) who led Notre Dame to its first consensus national title in 1924. His 6.8 yards per carry are second in school history to Reggie Brooks' 7.6. Eichenlaub was a four-year starter and. at 210 pounds, an incomparable force in his era.
Second Team: Marc Edwards (Norwood, 1993-96), Bob Gladieux (Louisville, 1966-68) - Second-round pick Edwards at fullback scored the second-most TDs (32) of the 11-year Lou Holtz era, and his 1,591 yards rushing averaged 5.1 yards per carry. His 46 catches also averaged 13 yards. Gladiuex led the 1968 team in rushing (713 yards) but also caught 72 career passes (highlighted by the 34-yard TD in the famous 1966 battle at Michigan State) that averaged 13.2 yards.
Third Team: Tony Fisher (Euclid, 1998-2001), Greg Bell (Columbus, 1980-83) - Fisher rushed for more than 1,800 yards, second only to Miller among Ohio backs. Bell was injured much of his Irish career but was a first-round pick and led the NFL in scoring in 1988-89.
Fourth Team: Eric Penick (Cleveland, 1972-74) and Art Best (Gahanna, 1972-74) - The two starting halfbacks for the 1973 national champs brought a rare game-breaking combination to Notre Dame back then. Penick led the 1972 team in rushing with 774 yards and had 614 for the champs, 85 on a legendary score versus USC. Best had 56- and 57-yard scores on two of his first four career carries and rushed for 745 yards for the 1973 champions.
Honorable mentions include Denny Allan (Ashtabula, 1968-70) pacing the 1969 team in rushing, while Andy Huff (Toledo, 1970-72) led the 1972 team with 10 TDs. Stan Cofall (Cleveland, 1914-16) received some All-America notice as a senior and Chris Smith (Cincinnati, 1981-84) started at fullback his last two seasons.
Wide Receivers: Bob Dove (Youngstown, 1940-42), Tony Hunter Cincinnati, 1979-82)
Tight End: Kyle Rudolph (Cincinnati, 2008-10)
Two-time consensus All-American Dove is in the College Football Hall of Fame. The 6-5 Hunter averaged nearly 20 yards per his 50 catches his first two seasons at split end before becoming a first-round pick at tight end. Rudolph was the No. 1 tight end taken by the NFL after his junior year.
Second Team: Kris Haines (Sidney, 1975-78), Ed Hunsinger (Chillicothe, 1922-24), with Dean Masztak (Toledo, 1978-81) at tight end - Haines' 21.5 yards per his 63 career catches are second to The Rocket in school history, and like Hunsinger, he played a major role on a national championship team. Masztak's 62 catches averaged 14.9 yards.
Honorable mention to the leading receiver in 1960 and 1961 Les Traver (Alliance, 1959-61), Robby Parris (Olmstead Falls, 2006-09), who snared 64 career passes, and tight ends Dick Royer (Cincinnati, 1956-58), Jim Winegardner (Lima, 1966-68) and Dan O'Leary (Cleveland, 1996-2000).
Offensive Line: Dick Szymanski (Toledo, 1951-54), Tim Foley (Cincinnati, 1976-79), Jack Cannon (Columbus, 1927-29), Edgar "Rip" Miller (Canton, 1927-29), Art Hunter (Akron, 1951-53)
Szymanski was the No. 16 overall pick by the NFL in 1955 and became a Pro Bowl center hiking the ball to Johnny Unitas for more than a decade. Foley started on the 1977 national champs as a sophomore and became a second-round pick. Cannon and Miller are both in the College Football Hall of Fame, with Cannon the last Irish player ever who refused to play with a helmet. Hunter was the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL Draft and played there for 12 years.
Second Team: Steve Sylvester (Cincinnati, 1972-74), Dean Brown (Canton, 1986-89), Norm Nicola (Canton, 1962-64), Bob Lally (Cleveland, 1946-49), Harvey Brown (Youngstown, 1921-23)
Third Team: Ted Horansky (Cleveland Heights, 1975-78), Jim Mense (Hamilton, 1953-55), Bob Meeker (Akron, 1963-65), Phil Pozderac (Garfield Heights, 1978-81), Byron Spruell (Aurora, 1984-87)
Special mention to Bob "Captain Bligh" McBride (Logan, 1941-42, 1946) who started on Frank Leahy's first Irish team before going off to World War II and later serving as Leahy's line coach. Ed Bauer (Cincinnati, 1972-75) was a captain as a senior while classmate Steve Quehl (Cincinnati, 1972-75) overcame a severe injury to start.
Finally, center Dan Novakov (Cincinnati, 1969-71) began the Moeller pipeline to Notre Dame, started his last two seasons and is now the president of the Cotton Bowl.
Defensive Line: Ross Browner (Warren, 1973, 1975-77), Steve Niehaus (Cincinnati, 1972-75), Alan Page (Canton, 1964-66), Jim Martin (Cleveland, 1946-49)
We already noted Browner and Martin as the two best to come from Ohio. Page is with them in the College Football Hall of Fame and also won a national title, and he is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame too with nine Pro Bowls. Niehaus was "only" a two-time first-team All-American (unanimous as a senior) and the No. 2 overall NFL pick in 1976. His 290 career tackles, despite two knee surgeries that ended his first two seasons prematurely, are second only to Browner's 340 for most by an Irish lineman.
Second Team: Frank Stams (Akron, 1985-88), Jim Stock (Barberton, 1972-75), Bob Toneff (Barberton, 1949-51), Mike Calhoun (Austintown, 1975-78) - Stams was a consensus All-American rush end for the 1988 national champs, and Toneff was a sophomore starter for the 1949 champs prior to a 13-year NFL career. Both were second-round picks. Stock and Calhoun were both three-year starters, including on a national title team.
Third Team: Tom Rhoads (Cincinnati, 1964-66), Bob Dahl (Chagrin Falls, 1987-90), Mike Griffin (Cleveland Heights, 1983-87), Kevin Griffith (Kettering, 1979-82)
Fourth Team: Jay Case (Cincinnati, 1975-78), Mike Golic Sr. (Willowick, 1981-84), Bob Neidert (Akron, 1968-70), Joe Gramke (Cincinnati, 1978-81) - How amazing is the state when a captain such as Golic is only on the fourth team yet still played nine years in the NFL?
Linebackers: Jim Lynch (Lima, 1964-66), Bob Golic (Cleveland, 1975-78), Bob Crable (Cincinnati, 1978-81)
If Notre Dame had a Mount Rushmore for linebackers, this would be the first three chiseled (the fourth going to Hawaiian Manti Te'o).
Lynch was the captain of the impregnable 1966 defense and is in the College Football Hall of Fame. Two-time consensus All-America Crable is the all-time tackles leader and the lone Irish first-round pick at the position. Golic is the second-leading tackler of all time who paced the 1977 national champs in stops, was a unanimous All-America in 1978, an All-America heavyweight wrester and became a 14-year NFL veteran.
Second Team: Steve Heimkreiter (Cincinnati, 1975-78), Tim Kelly (Springfield, 1968-70), Doug Becker (Hamilton, 1974-77) - Heimkreiter is one of five Notre Dame players in the 400 career tackles club (including bowls) and started three seasons with Becker, including the '77 title run. Kelly was a captain as a senior for the No. 2 Irish.
Third Team: Rocky Boiman (Cincinnati, 1998-2001), John Horney (Youngstown, 1964-66), Ken Maglicic (Cleveland, 1962-64).
Fourth Team: Jim O'Malley (Youngstown, 1970-72), Jim Musuraca (East Liverpool, 1970-72), Mike Larkin (Cincinnati, 1981-84)
Fifth Team: Rick Naylor (Cincinnati, 1980-83), Dan Fox (Cleveland, 2010-13), Rick Thomann (Akron, 1969-71)
Defensive Backs: Harry Stuhldreher (Massillon, 1922-24), Ralph Guglielmi (Columbus, 1951-54), Tom Schoen (Euclid, 1965-67), Mike Townsend (Hamilton, 1971-73)
Stuhldreher and Guglielmi were All-America QBs who are in the College Football Hall of Fame. The former led the Four Horseman but also was a stellar defender. The same could be said of Guglielmi, who directed three Top 4 finishes and also paced the team in interceptions twice with five apiece his last two seasons.
Schoen started a game at QB in 1965 before becoming a two-time All-America safety, consensus in 1967, while picking off 11 career passes, seven for the 1966 national champs. Townsend led the nation in interceptions with 10 at safety in 1972, and the next year he was a consensus All-America cornerback and tri-captain for the national champs.
Second Team: Jim Browner (Warren, 1975-78), John Krimm (Columbus, 1978-81), Joe Johnson (Fostoria, 1981-84), Chinedum Ndukwe (Powell, 2003-06)
Third Team: D'Juan Francisco (Cincinnati, 1986-89), David Bruton (2005-08), Kyle McCarthy (Youngstown, 2006-09), Tom O'Leary (Columbus, 1965-67).
Kicking Game: Harry Oliver (Cincinnati, 1978-81)
In 1980 he had one of the greatest seasons ever by an Irish kicker, booting a then school record 18 field goals in 23 attempts, highlighted by the epic 51-yard make as time elapsed to defeat that year's Rose Bowl champ, Michigan.
The Recruiting Future
For overall impact, talent and depth across the board, The Buckeye State has been the best in Notre Dame history. We can talk about the Sun Belt and the warm weather states as the vital points of emphasis, but the regional home base of Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, plus Pennsylvania, will remain the heart and soul of Notre Dame's recruiting efforts.
Whether it's Woody Hayes or Urban Meyer coaching Ohio State, Notre Dame always needs to get its share from the state. In the current cycle, offensive tackles were a major need and the Irish received early commitments from maybe the two best in the state at that position: Tommy Kraemer (Cincinnati) and Liam Eichenberg (Cleveland).
Talk about a great neighbor.