Casper, D (head)

Former Irish TE Dave Casper named to College Football Hall of Fame


Long before Anthony Fasano, John Carlson, Kyle Rudolph, and Tyler Eifert were making Notre Dame a tight end factory, former Irish great Dave Casper earned All-American status on his way to a 1973 National Championship. From there, the 6-foot-3, 245-pound former Irish star joined the Oakland Raiders on his way to a professional career that ended with his enshrinement in Canton, at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The five-time All-Pro, and member of the NFL’s All-Decade team for the 1970s is now being honored for his work back in South Bend, as the College Football Hall of Fame announced that Casper will be inducted in the 2012 class, a part of 14 former players and three coaches to be inducted at the 55th annual awards dinner this December at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City.

Here’s more on Casper’s impressive career, courtesy of Notre Dame’s official release:

Born in Bemidji, Minn., Casper played his first three years of high school football at St. Edward Central Catholic High School in Elgin, Ill., and his senior campaign at Chilton High School in Chilton, Wis. His Chilton team in 1969 outscored its opponents 363-0.

The 6-3, 243-pound Irish tight end served as co-captain of the 1973 Notre Dame team that finished 11-0 and won the national title on a consensus basis after a 24-23 victory over top-rated and unbeaten Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. He caught three passes for 75 yards in that contest.

Casper played his first two seasons at offensive left tackle in 1971 and ’72 (he started final four games as a sophomore, then won honorable mention All-America honors in 1972 from Associated Press), then switched to tight end as a senior. Former Irish coach Ara Parseghian called Casper the best athlete he ever coached.

Casper finished with 21 career catches for 335 yards and four touchdowns, with all but two of those receptions coming in his senior campaign in ’73. He was a participant in the 1974 College All-Star Game and the Hula Bowl. Selected Notre Dame’s offensive MVP in ’73, he also played earlier in his Notre Dame career as a linebacker, defensive tackle and split end.

In 1973, Casper earned first-team All-America recognition from United Press International, the American Football Coaches Association, Newspaper Enterprise Association, Football Writers Association of America and the Walter Camp Football Foundation – plus second-team honors from AP. In 2003 the Walter Camp Football Foundation named him its Alumnus of the Year.

A standout in the classroom, Casper earned postgraduate scholarships from the NCAA and the National Football Foundation after the 1973 season. The NCAA presented him its prestigious Silver Anniversary Award in 1999 for career achievements. With a 3.6 grade-point average, he earned first-team CoSIDA Academic All-America honors in 1973 (following second-team notice in ’72)–then in 1993 he was chosen to the CoSIDA Academic All-America Hall of Fame.

Casper joins George Connor, Paul Hornung, Wayne Millner, and Alan Page among former Irish standouts that are members of both the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He is the 44th former Irish player to be inducted in the collegiate hall and among 50 players and coaches to have been a part of the Irish football program.

Irish prepared to take on the best Navy team in years


Brian Kelly opens every Tuesday press conference with compliments for an opponent. But this week, it was easy to see that his kind words for Navy were hardly lip service.

Ken Niumatalolo will bring his most veteran—and probably his most talented—group of Midshipmen into Notre Dame Stadium, looking to hand the Irish their first loss in the series since Kelly’s debut season in South Bend.

“Ken Niumatalolo has done an incredible job in developing his program and currently carrying an eight-game winning streak,” Kelly said. “I voted for them in USA Today Top 25 as a top-25 team. I think they’ve earned that. But their defense as well has developed. It’s played the kind of defense that I think a top 25 team plays.”

With nine months of option preparation, Notre Dame needs to feel confident about their efforts against Georgia Tech. Then again, the Midshipmen saw that game plan and likely have a few tricks in store.

As much as the Irish have focused their efforts on stopping Keenan Reynolds and the triple-option, Navy’s much-improved defense is still looking for a way to slow down a team that’s averaged a shade over 48 points a game against them the last four seasons.

Niumatalolo talked about that when asked about slowing down Will Fuller and Notre Dame’s skill players, an offense that’s averaged over 48 points a game during this four-game win streak.

“We’ve got to try our best to keep [Fuller] in front of us, that’s easier said than done,” Niumatalolo said. “We’ve got to play as close as we can without their guys running past us. I’ve been here a long time and we’re still trying to figure out how to do that.”


Navy heads to South Bend unbeaten, defeating former Irish defensive coordinator Bob Diaco‘s team just two Saturdays ago. And while Diaco raised a few eyebrows when he said Navy would be the team’s toughest test of the year (they already played a ranked Missouri team), the head of the UConn program couldn’t have been more effusive in his praise.

“I have been competing against Navy for some time and this is the best Navy team I have seen for, let’s say the last half-dozen years,” UConn coach Bob Diaco told the New Haven Register. “I could click on footage from three years ago and see a lion’s share of players who are playing right now in the game as freshmen and sophomores. They have a veteran group, a strong group, a talented group and they look like the stiffest competition among our first four opponents.”

As usual, there will be those who look at this game as the breather between Clemson and USC. That won’t be anybody inside The Gug. So as the Irish try to get back to their winning ways in front of a home crowd, a complete team effort is needed.

“I’ll take a win by one,” Kelly said Tuesday. “That would be fine with me.”


Kelly confident Robinson will rebound

Notre Dame v Florida State

Corey Robinson‘s season was already off to a slow start. And that was before a difficult night at Clemson. The junior receiver came into last weekend with only four catches, held out against UMass after a pregame tweak of his knee put a scare into the Irish.

Robinson’s knee checked out fine. But mentally, it appears that the sure-handed junior is struggling.

Just before halftime against the Tigers, Robinson failed to reel in a long catch that would’ve given the Irish a much-needed touchdown heading into half. Early in the fourth quarter, a high throw from DeShone Kizer on the Irish’s first failed two-point conversion play slid through Robinson’s hands. Made worse was a mental mistake by Robinson, the Irish needing to use one of their second half timeouts when the junior wasn’t on the field.

Coached hard on the sideline by Brian Kelly and coached up by his position coach Mike Denbrock (as we saw on both Showtime and Fighting Irish Media’s ICON), the staff is doing it’s best to get Robinson’s confidence back.

With some wondering if Robinson’s struggles should open the door for talented freshman Equanimeous St. Brown, Kelly talked about their belief that the junior will return to form.

“Corey Robinson is going to get the job done. I had a very lengthy conversation with him yesterday,” Kelly said Tuesday. “I believe in Corey. Corey’s got to believe in himself, and he will. He’s got to go attack the football. He’s letting the football come to him. He’s letting it eat him up a little bit, but I believe in Corey.”

There’s no better place to showcase that belief than against Navy. The Midshipmen don’t have a defender physically capable of matching up with the 6-foot-5 Robinson, who will likely face his share of single coverage with Will Fuller likely demanding safety help.

Then it’s just a matter of Robinson showing the hands and confidence that made him one of last year’s most consistent performers.

“Once he starts attacking the football, I think we’re going to see somebody that can make the plays that we expect him to make,” Kelly said. “So I’m optimistic that we’re going to see the guy that we need to see on Saturday.”