Blue and Gold Illustrated

April 2021

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

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 52 of 55 APRIL 2021 53 100 years and 50 years ago, Notre Dame recruited two of the program's most complete offenses ever BY LOU SOMOGYI F or the first time since 2013, Notre Dame this year recruited a full of- fense that featured 14 players to rep- resent each position. Quarterbacks (2): Tyler Buchner and Ron Powlus III Running Backs (2): Logan Diggs and Audric Estime Wide Receivers (3): Deion Col- zie, Lorenzo Styles Jr. and Jayden Thomas Tight Ends (2): Cane Berrong and Mitchell Evans Offensive Linemen (5): Joe Alt, Pat Coogan, Blake Fisher, Caleb Johnson and Rocco Spindler Since the turn into the 21st cen- tury, this is only the third time Notre Dame recruited an entire offense (and then some) in one cycle, with 2013 and 2006 the other two. It would seem fitting that in 2021 Notre Dame would achieve the rare distinction of signing a full offense. That's because this year marks the 100th and 50th anniversaries of two of the most complete classes on offense ever signed by the Fighting Irish. One-hundred years ago in 1921, head coach Knute Rockne reeled in six individuals who would be enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame. The Four Horsemen with quar- terback Harry Stuhldreher, fullback Elmer Layden, and halfbacks Jim Crowley and Don Miller were part of that harvest. Meanwhile, two of the Seven Mules who paved the way for the Horsemen also are in the Hall: center Adam Walsh and guard Edgar "Rip" Miller. As seniors in 1924 they captured the first "consensus" national title for Notre Dame. The entire start- ing 11 (on offense and defense) was comprised of seniors from the 1921 recruiting class. Fifty years later in 1971, head coach Ara Parseghian and his staff also signed a full offense with each position represented, and one which would help capture the 1973 national title as juniors. It also was the final class not al- lowed to play as freshmen, with the NCAA passing the freshman eligibil- ity rule the following season. Quarterback: Tom Clements Finished fourth in the Heisman Tro- phy balloting as a senior. He helped lead the Irish to the 1973 national title as a junior while winning MVP hon- ors after guiding the epic 24-23 Sugar Bowl victory versus Alabama. Running Backs: Wayne "The Train" Bullock and Eric Penick The ideal balance of power and speed. Bullock bulldozed for 1,892 rush- ing yards and 24 touchdowns, while the game-breaker Penick had 1,418 yards and 13 scores (despite barely playing as a senior because of injury), none more famous than the 85-yard scamper ver- sus USC in 1973 to help end the Trojans' 23-game unbeaten streak. Backups Al Samuel and Ron Good- man also saw extensive action by their senior years as a halfback or split-out wingback. Wide Receiver: Pete Demmerle Nicknamed "Hands" for his abil- ity to snare passes, he was the top target for the 1973 national champs and earned All-America notice as a senior while also getting nominated as a Rhodes scholar. Tight End: Ed Bauer, Tom Fine and Steve Quehl Two of them became offensive line starters — 1975 captain Bauer and Quehl — while Fine was drafted by the NFL even though he seldom played with the Irish. Offensive Linemen: Steve Sylves- ter, Steve Neece and Gerry DiNardo Each of the trio started for the 1973 national champs, and then Quehl and Bauer would start later. All five filled a full line as starters. Sylvester and Neece at tackle, All-American DiNardo and future captain Bauer as guards, and Quehl at center. Collectively, this offense was not a prized NFL group, with 10th-round pick Sylvester having by far the best career while winning three Super Bowl rings. However, it was a fantas- tic college collection and the closest to a full starting and championship unit on offense one will find. ✦ Centennial & Golden Anniversaries NOT TO BE FORGOTTEN: 1965 In addition to the 1921 and 1971 classes, the 1965 haul on offense also ranks among the greatest at Notre Dame in impact, balance and production. Quarterbacks: Terry Hanratty, Coley O'Brien and Bob Belden Hanratty was a second-round pick. O'Brien closed out the 1966 national title drive when Hanratty was injured, and later started at running back. Belden played two years for the Dallas Cowboys. Running Backs/Wingbacks: Bob Gladieux and Ron Dushney Along with O'Brien, future pro Gladieux and Dushney started in a 1968 backfield that still holds the school record for points per game (37.6) in one season. Wide Receiver/Tight End: Jim Seymour and Jim Winegardner Wideout Seymour was a first-round selection and tight end Winegardner was selected in the fifth round. Offensive Linemen: George Kunz, Bob Kuechenberg, Tim Monty, Tom McKinley and Ed Tuck Kunz was the No. 2 overall pick in the 1969 NFL Draft and was an eight-time Pro Bowl pick, while Kuechenberg, who played defense his junior and senior years, was a six-time Pro Bowl guard. — Lou Somogyi Quarterback Tom Clements led the Fighting Irish to the 1973 national championship as a junior and then finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy balloting as a senior. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME ATHLETICS

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Blue and Gold Illustrated - April 2021