As I mentioned last week, ESPN’s top five Notre Dame players got me thinking of a fun summer project that could help us get to preseason training camp. So, without further ado, here’s the official kick-off of said summer project: The Top-25 players on the Irish roster.
A little background:
Lists like this are by definition subjective. But the goal was to try and list the top players on this season’s roster, in order of their ability. (Consider this the training wheels version of the list Peter King made a few years back when he ranked the top 500 players in the NFL.) Who do you think is the best player on the Irish roster? Is he the most important for the team’s success? The one most likely to get picked in the first round of the NFL Draft? There are plenty of variables when trying to come up with a list like this.
Since even I’m getting sick of my own opinion, I enlisted some help from other Notre Dame voices around the blogosphere. You’ve probably seen many of their websites or read something from them on a message board. I kept the directions as minimal as possible, mostly to let them determine what they thought was important when doing their rankings, and hopefully get some better diversity in their lists.
Here’s our roster of judges:
Frank Vitovitch of UHND.com
Anthony Pilcher of ClashmoreMike.com
Matt Quirion of HerLoyalSons.com
Chris Wilson and Matt Barcus of RakesofMallow.com
Pat Rigney, Man of the people, non-blogger.
Today, we’ll roll out rankings 25-21, with a brief rationale behind the decision. Complaints, comments, rankings, and just about everything else (except those pesky spam comments) are welcome below.
IRISH TOP 25: 25-21
25. Shaquelle Evans, WR: Didn’t see much action down the stretch in 2009, but could be the heir apparent to Michael Floyd.
24. Jamoris Slaughter, DB: Showed some flashes at strong safety last year and has the potential to be a very good defensive back.
23. Nick Tausch, K: I really hope this is too low of a ranking for Tausch.
22. Robert Blanton, CB: Looked great as a freshman in 2008, but took a step back in 2009. Will have to fight off Walls and Gray for one of the starting spots at CB.
21. John Goodman, WR: With so little experience behind Michael Floyd at wide receiver it’s tough project where the other receivers rank at this point.
25. Nick Tausch, K: Rising sophomore should build off a strong freshman campaign.
24. Braxston Cave, C: Incredible strength to go with a mean streak.
23. Jonas Gray, RB: Fumbling problems limit a back with great size, speed, and quickness.
22. Mike Ragone, TE: Back-up TE with good speed is also a good fit for the spread offense.
21. Kerry Neal, OLB: Better equipped for the outside of a 3-4, should provide good pass rushing ability.
25. Duval Kamara, WR: The senior is only on the list at all because of what he did his freshman year.
24. Kerry Neal, OLB: Looked like a spark of hope in 2007’s 3-9 campaign, and then he disappeared.
23. Dayne Crist, QB: This is low because he hasn’t done anything — yet — and we enjoy meteoric rises.
22. Mike Ragone, TE: Tiiiime is no longer on your side…
21. Robert Hughes, RB: Had one of the very few 100+ yard rushing games on this roster — three years ago.
Matt and Chris:
25. Louis Nix, DT: The kind of DT prospect ND rarely sees. All we have to go on is his recruiting film, but to quote Aaron Neville: “I don’t know much, but I know I love you.”
24. Nick Tausch, K: Showed great potential last year hitting 14 consecutive field goals to set a new ND record. Did we mention that he’s got three more years of eligibility left?
23. John Goodman, WR: Watch this.
22. Duval Kamara, WR: It’s been a roller coaster career for Kamara (mostly lows recently), but you gotta believe a fresh start in Kelly’s offense will help him go out on a high-note.
21. Zack Martin, OT: One of the more consistent spring performers, the redshirt freshman may be the LT starter for years to come.
25. Harrison Smith, DB: Hopefully the position changes ending will allow Harrison to perform well next season.
24. Duval Kamara, WR: Another receiver that should get a lot of balls thrown his way in Kelly’s offense.
23. Robert Blanton, CB: Passed on the depth chart by Gary Gray, he was second on the team last season in INTs and should see time next season.
22. Mike Ragone, TE: Now or never. He showed he has speed after chasing down the WSU defensive back. If he can stay healthy, he has a good shot at being very productive.
21. Jamoris Slaughter, DB: As Kyle McCarthy’s replacement, he has big shoes to fill.
25. Nick Tausch, K: As much as people talk about Tausch’s streak, I can’t stop thinking about the two field goals he missed against Navy, and the early-game jitters he displayed.
24. T.J. Jones, WR: I’m hesitant to rank him too high after a big spring, but he could easily become one of the Irish’s better playmakers.
23. Taylor Dever, RT: I’ve got a feeling Dever will stay off most lists, but I’m pretty high on the projected starter at right tackle, and think Ed Warinner will turn Dever into a solid player.
22. Gary Gray, CB: Cautiously optimistic about Gray’s ability to make “the leap” this season after showing some promise last year.
21. Theo Riddick, WR: Another guy who could flourish in the spread, I also expect him to make some noise in the return game.