Skip to content

Counting down the Irish: 2013’s roster rankings

Jul 15, 2013, 6:19 AM EST

Stanford v Notre Dame Getty Images

It’s that time of year again. As our summer days gradually shorten and the calendar creeps past the middle of July, the long abyss is ending and we are inching closer and closer to real football. With the 2013 Fighting Irish set to kickoff preseason camp in early August, it’s time to take to projecting what this year’s squad will look like.

Here’s what we know: Gone are two All-Americans — all-time greats at their positions, and national award winners in Manti Te’o and Tyler Eifert. Their shoes will be filled with capable youngsters, but hardly proven commodities. We also know the Irish will be starting over at quarterback, with Everett Golson exiled for academic reasons for the fall semester. Hoping that veteran backup Tommy Rees can rely on a strong ground game? Well, who powers that unit is still up in the air, with a slew of talented but unproven runners waiting to battle it out in camp for carries.

That’s not to say this team is short on talent and filled with questions? Once again, the Irish will have at least two players that are likely locks for All-American honors. Who did the panel judge the best player on the defensive front, Stephon Tuitt or Louis Nix? Is left tackle Zack Martin better than both of them? Where did the talented five-star freshmen rank on our judges list? (I feel like I should be yelling this…)

As we’ve done for the past few years, we’re once again ranking the roster’s top 25 players, an exercise that’s created quite a bit of diversity among the lists I received from our panel of judges. This year, we had eight voters (including yours truly) weigh in — as good of a mix as I think we’ve had since we started doing this. Here’s the group:

Brian Hamilton, Chicago Tribune
Pete Sampson, Irish Illustrated
JJ Stankevitz, CSN Chicago
John Vannie, ND Nation
John Walters, MediumHappy.com
Ryan Ritter, HerLoyalSons.com
4pointshooter, OneFootDown.com
Keith Arnold, Inside the Irish

With that out of the way, let’s take a trip down memory lane so you get caught up on the prognosticating skills of this exercise the past few years. We’ll roll out the least each day this week, five players at a time, with some observations in between. (Feel free to play along in the comments section as well…)

IRISH 2012 Top 25
25. Zeke Motta (S, Sr.)
24. Tommy Rees (QB, Jr.)
23. Andrew Hendrix (QB, Jr.)
22. Davonte Neal (WR, Fr.)
21. TJ Jones (WR, Jr.)
20. Robby Toma (WR, Sr.)
19. Christian Lombard (OL, Jr.)
18. Davaris Daniels (WR, So.)
17. Troy Niklas (TE, So.)
16. Bennett Jackson (CB, Jr.)
15. Ishaq Williams (OLB, So.)
14. Everett Golson (QB, So.)
13. Chris Watt (LG, Sr.)
12. Prince Shembo (OLB, Jr.)
11. George Atkinson (RB, So.)
10. Kapron Lewis-Moore (DE, Grad.)
9. Theo Riddick (RB, Sr.)
8. Jamoris Slaughter (DB, Grad.)
7. Braxston Cave (C, Grad.)
6. Louis Nix III (DT, Jr.)
5. Stephon Tuitt (DE, Soph.)
4. Zack Martin (LT, Sr.)
3. Cierre Wood (RB, Sr.)
2. Tyler Eifert (TE, Sr.)
1. Manti Te’o (LB, Sr.)

A few thoughts: Just a quick look at our last rankings, done around this time last year. The one name most missed on was obviously Cierre Wood, who came in ranked No. 3 and then ended up going undrafted. Meanwhile, Theo Riddick ended up being the team’s second most important offensive weapon, only behind first-round draft pick Tyler Eifert.

Another big miss was Andrew Hendrix, who some thought had a chance to start at quarterback after a strong fall camp. That ended up not happening, with Hendrix relegated to No. 3 quarterback duty all season. (Tommy Rees, ranked right behind him, became the situational reliever for the offense.)

Both TJ Jones and Zeke Motta outperformed their rankings, though Motta undid a lot of good with an ugly BCS Championship game and subpar testing. Lastly, it seems like our rankings of Everett Golson was just about right — the starting quarterback proved his worth as the season went on, growing into the responsibility heaped on him.

IRISH 2011 Top 25
25. Taylor Dever (OT, Sr.)
24. Chris Watt (OG, Jr.)
23. Zeke Motta (S, Jr.)
22. Aaron Lynch (DE, Fr.)
21. Carlo Calabrese (LB, Jr.)
20. TJ Jones (WR, Soph.)
19. Louis Nix (NT, Soph.)
18. Braxston Cave (C, Sr.)
17. Tommy Rees (QB, Soph.)
16. Prince Shembo (OLB, Soph.)
15. Trevor Robinson (OG, Sr.)
14. Ethan Johnson (DE, Sr.)
13. Dayne Crist (QB, Sr.)
12. Tyler Eifert (TE, Jr.)
11. Kapron Lewis-Moore (DE, Sr.)
10. Robert Blanton (CB, Sr.)
9. David Ruffer (K, Sr.)
8. Theo Riddick (WR, Jr.)
7. Cierre Wood (RB, Jr.)
6. Darius Fleming (OLB, Sr.)
5. Gary Gray (CB, Sr.)
4. Zack Martin (LT, Jr.)
3. Harrison Smith (S, Sr.)
2. Manti Te’o (ILB, Jr.)
1. Michael Floyd (WR, Sr.)

IRISH 2010 Top 25
25. Nick Tausch
24. TJ Jones
23. Taylor Dever
22. Gary Gray
21. Theo Riddick
20. Zack Martin
19. Duval Kamara
18. Steve Filer
17. Jamoris Slaughter
16. Robert Hughes
15. Harrison Smith
14. Cierre Wood
13. Darrin Walls
12. Ethan Johnson
11. Kapron Lewis-Moore
10. Ian Williams
9. Darius Fleming
8. Dayne Crist
7. Armando Allen
6. Brian Smith
5. Trevor Robinson
4. Chris Stewart
3. Manti Te’o
2. Kyle Rudolph
1. Michael Floyd

Latest Posts
  1. Zack Martin named a Pro Bowler

    Dec 24, 2014, 12:00 PM EST

    Zack Martin Zack Martin

    Dallas Cowboys rookie Zack Martin was named to the Pro Bowl on Tuesday, the only offensive rookie selected to the game and one of six Cowboys. Martin has started all season at right guard for one of the NFL’s best rushing attacks.

  2. Tommy Rees to begin coaching career at Northwestern

    Dec 24, 2014, 9:30 AM EST

    Rees USC AP

    Tommy Rees will begin his coaching career close to where his football career began. Rees, who played in all four of his seasons at Notre Dame from 2010-13, will be an offensive graduate assistant at Northwestern.

  3. Report: Irish add former UCLA great Johnathan Franklin to staff

    Dec 24, 2014, 1:01 AM EST

    Pac-12 Championship - UCLA v Stanford Getty Images

    It appears that Brian Kelly has added another key piece to his football program. The Los Angeles Times reports Notre Dame has hired former Green Bay Packer and UCLA running back Johnathan Franklin to join the staff in an administrative role, focusing on student welfare and development.

  4. Counting down the Irish: Final grades, 20-16

    Dec 23, 2014, 10:00 AM EST

    Greg Bryant Greg Bryant

    As we continue our final rankings of the 2014 season, numbers 20-16 continues to showcase the youth on the roster.

  5. Counting down the Irish: Final rankings for 2014

    Dec 22, 2014, 12:32 PM EST

    Nyles Morgan

    With a little over a week to go until the Irish take on LSU in the Music City Bowl, it’s time to take a look back at the regular season. Our first five spots on the year-end Top 25 roll out.

  6. Mailbag: The case of the missing questions

    Dec 21, 2014, 4:35 PM EST

    Nyles Morgan

    After a mailbag goes missing, the Inside the Irish crew go looking for answers. That and other solutions in this week’s mailbag.

  7. Day, Riggs on track to start, Lombard’s career may be over

    Dec 20, 2014, 4:50 PM EST

    North Carolina v Notre Dame Getty Images

    Brian Kelly met with the local media on Saturday afternoon, delivering good news on the status of two key veteran defenders. Both defensive tackle Sheldon Day and cornerback Cody Riggs are on track to start against LSU, adding a few key pieces back into the puzzle.

  8. Notre Dame lands Indianapolis safety Mykelti Williams

    Dec 19, 2014, 11:59 AM EST

    Property of Indianapolis Star Property of Indianapolis Star

    Notre Dame solidified its safety depth chart by going for a homegrown solution. The Irish offered Indianapolis Warren Central safety Mykelti Williams yesterday, and today the four-star prospect made the decision official by committing to Notre Dame.

  9. And in that corner… The LSU Tigers

    Dec 19, 2014, 11:27 AM EST

    Les Miles Les Miles

    Notre Dame’s inclusion in the ACC’s bowl selections came in handy this year. As the Irish back-slid throughout November, they still held onto some preferred real estate, finding themselves in a pretty nice consolation game, with the opportunity to play in Nashville in the Music City Bowl.

    Carter Bryant gets us ready for LSU.

  10. Smith, Fuller nab All-American mentions

    Dec 18, 2014, 2:38 PM EST

    Jaylon Smith Jaylon Smith

    Sophomores Jaylon Smith and Will Fuller have earned more kudos than just their defensive and offensive player of the year Echoes. Both have received mention for year-end All-American awards.

  11. Bowl prep helps both present and future along offensive line

    Dec 18, 2014, 1:17 PM EST

    Purdue v Notre Dame Purdue v Notre Dame

    While most eyes are focused on the battle at quarterback between Everett Golson and Malik Zaire, the preparations for LSU will also be critical along the offensive line. The extra practices will give Brian Kelly and Harry Hiestand time to evaluate their starting five, with changes that could have both short and long-term impacts.

  12. Mailbag: Now Open

    Dec 17, 2014, 4:24 PM EST

    New Mailbox

    Any new questions? Ones that I’ve avoided? Last minute Christmas ideas? Drop them in the comments below or on Twitter @KeithArnold.

  13. ‘Blind Faith’ gives first time fan the Notre Dame experience

    Dec 17, 2014, 12:29 PM EST

    Stanford v Notre Dame Getty Images

    Monday UND.com premiered the short film “Blind Faith.” Directed by Notre Dame graduate Greg Kohs, the documentary follows a blind eighth grade boy making his first visit to Notre Dame Stadium.

  14. Golson and Zaire will share time against LSU

    Dec 16, 2014, 11:40 AM EST

    Rice v Notre Dame Getty Images

    Brian Kelly will play two quarterbacks against LSU, with both senior Everett Golson and sophomore Malik Zaire getting an opportunity to take on the LSU in the Music City Bowl. After a regular season where Golson served as the starter all 12 games with Zaire only seeing significant action against USC in the finale, both will be utilized in the Irish’s offensive game plan.

  15. Stanley still undecided on NFL future

    Dec 15, 2014, 4:52 PM EST

    Notre Dame v Syracuse Notre Dame v Syracuse

    Notre Dame junior offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley walked off the stage Friday night with the team’s Lineman of the Year Award. He’s still uncertain if it’s the last time he’ll take part in the season-ending festivities.

  16. Counting down the Irish: Looking back

    Dec 15, 2014, 3:37 PM EST

    Will Fuller, Nick VanHoose Will Fuller, Nick VanHoose

    This August, a group of people who spend way too much time watching and writing about Notre Dame football got together to put together some preseason rankings on the roster. In doing so, we (I’m definitely included) put in writing what so many of you (especially in the comments) already thought was true: We don’t know what we’re talking about sometimes.

  17. Schmidt wins MVP as Notre Dame hands out year-end awards

    Dec 13, 2014, 12:11 PM EST

    Joe Schmidt Joe Schmidt

    Middle linebacker Joe Schmidt was named the 2014 team’s MVP on Saturday night, honored by his teammates with the top award at Notre Dame’s year-end awards show. Hosted by NBC’s Mike Mayock and WNBA star Skylar Diggins, “The Echoes” withstood a building-clearing plumbing issue to hand out 16 awards.

  18. With banquet ahead, recruiting efforts in full swing

    Dec 12, 2014, 10:40 AM EST

    MyLVSports.com MyLVSports.com

    Notre Dame’s regular season may be over. The Irish’s recruiting class — one many thought would cap itself around 20 — is already at 21 commits. Get ready for a busy weekend on campus.

  19. Swarbrick in favor of compensating student-athletes through group licensing

    Dec 10, 2014, 9:49 PM EST

    Jack Swarbrick

    Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick finds himself in the news on another roller coaster day in college athletics. And while it isn’t about a coaching change (another job opening under Barry Alvarez!) or another critique of the College Football Playoff, Swarbrick found himself speaking openly — and rather candidly — about compensating student-athletes, and the perilous position college athletic departments now find themselves in.

  20. Mailbag: Now Open

    Dec 10, 2014, 12:59 PM EST

    New Mailbox

    Drop your questions below. Or on Twitter @KeithArnold.