Counting down the Irish: Looking back

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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.

But a look back at the Top 25 list is a fun exercise. So this week we’re going to spend some time looking at some hits, some misses and some clues as we spend the week re-ranking the roster.

Notre Dame’s offensive player of the year? Will Fuller was only good enough to come in at No. 25 on our list, fifth best among pass catchers. Only three voters gave Fuller a vote, with me giving him his highest ranking at 14th, while predicting a 1,000 yard campaign. The Irish’s defensive player of the year? Everybody saw Jaylon Smith coming, he was at No. 1 on six of eight ballots.

While nobody was thinking that Ronnie Stanley had the makings of a first-round pick after the 2014 season, we did have him as the team’s No. 1 offensive lineman. And even though Cam McDaniel was named a team captain and an opening day starter, the running back was ranked third-best on our list, with our group of experts identifying Tarean Folston as the team’s best back. (ND Tex at HLS had Folston No. 1 on his board.)

The suspensions that ultimately cost KeiVarae Russell, DaVaris DanielsIshaq Williams  and Kendall Moore their seasons? It took two of the team’s top seven players off the field, and three of the team’s top 20. And for those who believed Brian Kelly when he said the team had the deepest roster he’s had at Notre Dame, Fuller was No. 25, and Team MVP Joe Schmidt checked in at No. 24.

As we await the Irish and LSU to do battle on December 30, let’s look back at the best and worst of 2014, and see how well we did in August with our hunches.