Blue and Gold Illustrated

February 2020

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

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12 FEBRUARY 2020 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED UNDER THE DOME For the sixth consecutive year in as many foot- ball seasons, former Notre Dame offensive line- man Zack Martin (2010-13) made the NFL Pro Bowl based on his regular-season performance. Meanwhile, former Fighting Irish safety Har- rison Smith (2007-11) achieved that distinction for the fifth straight season, while 2014-17 guard Quenton Nelson has been in the Pro Bowl in each of his first two campaigns. A third Notre Dame offensive lineman from this decade, Ron- nie Stanley (2012-15), made it into the postsea- son affair for the first time. All four were first-round selections, which is the NFL's version of a five-star high school recruit getting signed by a school. Martin already has tied the late guard Bob Kuechenberg (1966-68) and running back Jerome Bettis (1990-92) for the sixth-most Pro Bowl ap- pearances by a Notre Dame alumnus, and is four more Pro Bowl seasons away from becoming the first Fighting Irish alumnus to reach 10. Here are the top five to hold that distinction since the first Pro Bowl game was played on Jan. 14, 1951: Rk. Name, Pos. Pro Bowls 1. Alan Page, DT 9 Tim Brown, WR 9 3. Joe Montana, QB 8 George Kunz, OT 8 5. Dave Casper, TE 7 Note: Page was named first-team All-Pro six times, also the most among Notre Dame alumni. Casper is second with four, while Montana and Martin have three apiece. CHARTING THE IRISH PULLING RANK Team recruiting rankings aren't perfect. They often don't account for when a program does or doesn't meet its position needs, and teams that sign fewer than 20 recruits are at a disadvantage. Still, they can be a valu- able tool in determining how much talent a program has. With 18 signees in the class of 2020 heading into January, Notre Dame had the No. 15 recruiting class nationally according to Rivals. The Fighting Irish signed one five-star prospect and three others in the top 50, all of whom play on offense. While it is a good class, it significantly trails 2020 Fighting Irish opponent Clemson, which boasted the No. 1 haul. The Tigers have six five-star signees and seven in the top 50. The only other 2020 opponents with top-25 classes are No. 23 Georgia Tech and No. 24 Stanford. Wisconsin, which should be the second-toughest team Notre Dame plays next season, had the No. 32 class. USC is traditionally a recruiting powerhouse, but given the uncertain future of head coach Clay Helton it managed only an 11-man group that was rated No. 83, behind even Navy (No. 72). Only Arkansas (No. 85) rated lower among Power Five opponents on Notre Dame's 2020 schedule. 2020 RIVALS TEAM RECRUITING RANKINGS As of Dec. 31 Rk. School Total 5 Stars 4 Stars Avg. Points 1. Clemson* 23 6 13 4.09 3,100 2. Alabama 26 3 19 3.96 2,941 3. Ohio State 25 3 13 3.76 2,841 4. LSU 20 2 13 3.85 2,795 5. Georgia 19 3 13 4.00 2,588 15. Notre Dame 18 1 9 3.56 2,115 23. Georgia Tech* 24 0 4 3.08 1,798 24. Stanford* 18 1 7 3.50 1,778 32. Wisconsin* 19 0 4 3.11 1,516 36. Louisville* 25 0 1 2.88 1,455 47. Pittsburgh* 17 0 2 3.06 1,275 57. Duke* 16 0 0 2.94 1,065 T60. Wake Forest* 18 0 0 2.56 1,035 72. Navy* 77 0 0 1.88 915 T83. USC* 11 0 1 3.00 825 85. Arkansas* 11 0 1 3.00 810 * 2020 Notre Dame opponent Moving? Let us know! Call 1-800-421-7751 Irish student-athletes — past, present and future — excelling on and off the field Rocky Bleier — Football The 1965-67 Irish running back will be hon- ored with a 2020 NCAA Inspi- ration Award Jan. 22 in Ana- heim, Calif. It is reserved for people who used persever- ance, dedication and deter- mination to overcome a life- altering situation and, most importantly, are role models giving hope and inspiration to others. Bleier suffered severe injuries in combat dur- ing the Vietnam War, but fought his way back to a professional football career that spanned more than a decade. He has since donated time and energy to helping veterans like him- self re-acclimate to the different lives they faced when they returned home. Sam Brunelle — Basketball The rookie from Ruckersville, Va., was named the ACC Freshman of the Week Dec. 18. She was hon- ored after pouring in a ca- reer-high 31 points in Notre Dame's 105-94 loss to DePaul Dec. 11. She had 17 points at halftime, just two shy of her previous career best. She was 13 of 18 from the floor for the game, and also grabbed seven rebounds with two assists and a block. Heading into the New Year, Brunelle ranked third on the team in scoring (13.8 points per game) and second in rebounding (6.3). Michael Mayer — Football The 2020 Fighting Irish tight end signee from Independence, Ky., had a big month of December. He helped Covington Catholic to the 5A state championship and was named MVP of the title game, received the 2019 Gatorade Kentucky Player of the Year award, and was tabbed as the Bluegrass State's Mr. Football by the Kentucky Football Coaches Association. Mayer, the nation's No. 3 tight end and No. 37 overall player per Rivals, hauled in 49 recep- tions for 970 yards and 15 touchdowns, added two rushing scores, and compiled 102.5 tackles, 1.5 sacks and four interceptions this fall. TOP OF THE CLASS ✦ GIMME FIVE

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