Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 19, 2018

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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12 NOV. 19, 2018 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED UNDER THE DOME The 2018 Notre Dame football roster has 32 jersey numbers that are shared by players. NCAA rules permit this so long as they are not on the field at the same time, including special teams. As long as one is on offense and the other on defense — i.e. center Sam Mustipher and defensive end Khalid Kareem both wearing No. 53 — that is fine. Where it can sometimes get dicey is special teams. In 2012, Notre Dame's 8‑0 start was in severe jeopardy when Pitt lined up for a short game‑winning field goal in overtime. To aid a potential blocked kick, special teams coordinator Scott Booker inserted wide receiver Chris Brown — an excellent leaper — into the lineup. The problem was Brown wore No. 2 — same as cornerback Bennett Jackson, who also was on that special teams unit. The field goal attempt missed and Notre Dame later went on to win the game, but the Irish caught a huge break when the officiating crew did not see that Brown and Jackson were on the field at the same time. Had they noticed, Pitt would have had a new set of downs deep in Notre Dame territory with an excellent chance to win, either with a touch‑ down or a chip‑shot field goal. In recent years, the Irish staff has had to change the numbers of players to ensure they don't wind up on the field together, including this year with freshman linebacker Shayne Si‑ mon and fifth‑year senior running back/fullback Keenan Sweeney, both of whom wear No. 33 and have vied for action on special teams. It's part of the management issue coaches have to work around, including on the recruiting trail. Single‑digit numbers are particularly popular with players, as evidenced by this year's sharing of No. 2 (senior running back Dexter Williams and sophomore linebacker Jordan Genmark Heath), No. 3 (sophomore wide receiver Av‑ ery Davis and freshman nickel Houston Griffith), No. 4 (freshman wide receiver Kevin Austin and senior linebacker Te'von Coney), No. 7 (senior quarterback Brandon Wimbush and freshman safety Derrik Allen), and No. 8 (sophomore run‑ ning back Jafar Armstrong and junior cornerback Donte Vaughn). "We don't promise anybody a number," Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said on whether pros‑ pects ask for a specific numeral. "We say, We'll look at it when you get here.' Give us three of your choices for numbers, and we'll see if we can accommodate. If we can, we'll try to.' "Then we go through camp, we try to put the numbers together that make sense. We try to look care‑ fully at who is on special teams, in particular, as to see whether those numbers would cause a problem. If they do, we need to make some changes." One number that has been conspicuously missing is No. 1. The last individual to wear it an entire season was sophomore running back Greg Bryant in 2014, who transferred in 2015 and tragically died from gunfire in his native Florida in May 2016. Beginning that season, the No. 1 jersey was to be rotated amongst players from week to week who best represented Notre Dame football and "displayed the characteristics needed to reach No. 1" by how he comported himself on and off the field. Linebacker James Onwualu wore the No. 1 jersey in the 2016 opener at Texas, cornerback Cole Luke donned it the following week, running back Josh Adams displayed it in the third game, and guard Quenton Nelson couldn't wear it the fourth game because of NCAA rules that require offensive linemen to wear 50 through 79. And then it stopped. The season was spiraling out of control, and the 4‑8 campaign dropped Notre Dame behind Michigan in all‑time winning percentage. When asked the week before this year's Florida State game on why jersey No. 1 is no longer issued, Kelly replied it stems back to 2016. "We want the number one winning percentage in college football," he said. "Then we'll issue that jersey out to a player that befits the traits necessary to be the number one winning percentage in college football." Because the NCAA ruled Notre Dame had to vacate 21 victories from 2012 (12) and 2013 (nine), that might take a little longer than anticipated. From that ruling, Notre Dame dropped from No. 2 to No. 4 in all‑time winning percentage at .72422, with Michigan No. 1 at .72914. But if Notre Dame can finish No. 1 on the field in 2018 … Looking Out For No. 1, And Other Numbers TOM RHOADS: 1945-2018 A starting defensive end and a fourth‑round pick in the NFL Draft (70th overall) for one of the most dominant defenses in college foot‑ ball history, Tom Rhoads passed away in Ra‑ leigh, N.C., on Oct. 30. He was 73. The former Cincinnati St. Xavier product started on the 1966 defensive line that fea‑ tured first‑round selections Alan Page (now in the College and Pro Football Halls of Fame) and Kevin Hardy, plus Pete Duranko, who played eight years in the NFL. That unit, cap‑ tained by College Football Hall of Fame in‑ ductee and Pro Bowl linebacker Jim Lynch, al‑ lowed only 24 points during a 9‑0‑1 campaign that resulted in the first consensus national title under head coach Ara Parseghian. The record books show 38 points scored by the opposition that year, but two of the touch‑ downs occurred on a fumble return by Rose Bowl champion Purdue and a blocked punt in the end zone by Navy. Otherwise, the defense went through a stretch of six consecutive games where it did not permit a single point. Among the highlights that season were 38‑0 and 51‑0 road victories at Oklahoma and USC, both of whom were ranked No. 10 at the time of the game, with the Trojans winning the Pac‑8 crown. Rhoads never ended up playing in the NFL, but went on to a successful and lucrative busi‑ ness career, including at Hilton Head, S.C. He leaves behind his wife of more than 50 years, Kathleen, two daughters, a son and 10 grand‑ children. Read his obituary: "If you knew Tom Rhoads, you knew someone who greeted you with a twinkle in his eye, a warm smile and a sincere desire to help you on your journey. If you knew Tom, you saw his immeasurable love of family and deep caring and commitment to his friends and his alma mater, Notre Dame. If you knew Tom, you saw the love of Christ embodied in His grateful son. And Christ said, 'Well done, my good and faithful servant.'" Running back Josh Adams is the last Fighting Irish player to have donned jersey No. 1, doing so versus Michigan State in the third game of the 2016 campaign. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA Rhoads was a starting defensive end on a dominant unit that allowed only 24 points during a 9-0-1 campaign in 1966. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME MEDIA RELATIONS

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