Blue and Gold Illustrated

May 2017 Issue

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

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14 MAY 2017 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED UNDER THE DOME Remembering The Fullbacks The fullback position in football has become virtually extinct with the rise of the spread offense. At one time, however, they were a focal point of Notre Dame's offense. In a span of four days this March, the Fighting Irish football family lost two former players at the position who contributed much to the program. ANDY HUFF: 1950-2017 Signed by Notre Dame in 1968 from St. Francis de Sales High in Toledo, Ohio, Huff died in his same hometown on March 5. He was 66. From a prominent football family whose mem- bers played at various universities, Huff rushed for 1,127 yards during his three seasons on the Notre Dame varsity and was voted team MVP on offense as a senior in 1972 when head coach Ara Parseghian's squad finished 8-2 in the regular season and earned a bid to the Orange Bowl to play Nebraska. That year Huff finished second in rushing with 567 yards, caught nine passes for 102 yards and led the team in touchdowns scored with 10. He and classmate John "Cisco" Cieszkowski were basically co-starters their final two seasons, with Cieszkowski (a cardiologist today) carrying 69 times for 316 yards and Huff 68 times for 295 yards in 1971. Like so many running backs under Parseghian and backfield coach Tom Pagna, Huff was not drafted by the NFL and did not have a pro career in football, but he epitomized the fundamental soundness, toughness and grit that current head coach Brian Kelly wants to see much more of from his teams. BRAXSTON BANKS: 1967-2017 A member of head coach Lou Holtz's first recruiting class at Notre Dame in 1986, the Hay- ward, Calif., native passed away reportedly from heart disease at 49 on March 8. Banks enrolled at the same time as fellow full- back Anthony Johnson, who originally began his career at tailback. Banks finished his freshman year with a flourish when he caught 22- and five-yard touchdown passes from quarterback Steve Beuerlein in the second half as the Irish rallied from a 37-20 deficit for a 38-37 victory that helped the program begin a dramatic renaissance. Banks split time with Johnson at fullback in 1987 while carrying 54 times for 212 yards and four touchdowns. In 1988, Banks was injured early in the season, but when Johnson was sidelined later in the year with his own injury, Banks came off the bench to help rally the Irish to a hard fought 30-20 victory at Pitt. With the score tied 17-17, he caught a 30-yard pass on a wheel route, gained six yards on third-and-six, and then scored the go-ahead touchdown. The next week in the 31-30 victory versus No. 1 Miami that propelled the Irish to a national title, Banks caught a nine-yard touchdown pass from Tony Rice to put the Irish ahead 14-7. Banks missed the entire 1989 season with a knee injury and then lost his NCAA eligibility when he tested the NFL Draft waters. He then worked seven years for the National Football League Players Association and was mentored by longtime NFLPA executive director and Hall of Fame member Gene Upshaw. More recently in his home state he formed The Banks Group and BanksCisneros while helping school districts save money and become environmentally responsible citizens. A TRUE GIFT FROM THE HEART Former Notre Dame and Stanford tight end Konrad Reuland helped save Baseball Hall of Famer Rod Carew's life. Carew, 71, received a heart and kidney from an organ donor in December 2016, but did not know the identity of the donor. In April, it was reported by the Baltimore Ravens' team website that Reuland — who died last December after suffering an aneurysm — had been the donor of the organs. Carew was a seven-time American League bat- ting champion. He was on a transplant list in November 2016, and as his condition worsened he moved to the top of the donor list on Dec. 9, 2016, according to the report. "I think my friend upstairs gave me another opportunity to continue his work", Carew said at a press conference afterwards. "So that's why I was left behind. I've got a great partner in Kon- rad. He's given me a strong heart. Every day the doctors came in and they would say, 'Boy he's roaring today.'" Reuland played in four games for the Ravens in 2015, starting in one. In two seasons with the New York Jets (2012-13), Reuland had 12 catches for 90 yards and no touchdowns. The Mission Viejo, Calif., native spent two sea- sons at Notre Dame (2006-07) before transfer- ring to Stanford, where he finished out his col- lege career and went undrafted in 2011. "I had laid my right ear on his heart all day and just listened to his heartbeat," Reuland's mother, Mary, told the Ravens' website. "When we left him for the last time I said, 'Whoever gets his heart better deserve his heart because it was a good one.'" GUGLIELMINO ATHLETICS COMPLEX EXPANSION ON THE TO-DO LIST With the $400-million-plus Campus Crossroads project on Notre Dame Stadium nearing comple- tion later this summer, the next major construction involving the football team is on the on-deck circle. Or at least according to Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly, who in passing during an April 19 me- dia session revealed that the Guglielmino Athletics Complex and Loftus Center that houses the football operation — including Meyo Field for indoor prac- tices — will be getting some of its own expansion soon after Campus Crossroads is finished. Rumors and rumblings of adding on to "The Gug" have been mentioned in prior months, but the uni- versity's policy is to not announce such endeavors until all funds for the financing are accounted for by the school. If they are all in place, the expansion could com- mence later this year and would, among other ame- nities, include a second indoor practice field plus a full kitchen in which to prepare training table meals for the players (the current format has trucks deliver- ing the food to the Guglielmino Athletics Complex). "Those are pretty significant in recruiting," Kelly said.

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