If you follow me on Twitter, which a good number of you probably don’t, you know that for the last few weeks I’ve been posting photos of old and current ND players in our countdown to the first game. Today we are officially 23 days away from kickoff between the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Temple Owls, so here are your 23s.
Golden Tate, Autry Denson, Art Best and Drue Tranquill days away from kickoff... pic.twitter.com/x730mvyfC3— Bobby Norell (@RENorell_III) August 10, 2017
Golden Tate - WR - 2007-09
Statistically, Tate is one of the best receivers in Notre Dame history. He’s first all-time in single-season receiving yards, second all-time in single-season receptions and yards, second all-time in career receiving yards, and lastly in the top five in career receptions. Tate won the Biletnikoff Award in 2009, and was also named an All-American that year.
Tate was an electrifying receiver, with great speed and sure-fire hands. If the ball was thrown to him, he was most likely going to catch it. He was featured on some great offenses, which showcased the likes of Jimmy Clausen, Michael Floyd and Kyle Rudolph. If those teams had had any semblance of a defense, they would perhaps have been in BCS Bowls year after year.
Tate chose to forego his senior year and enter the NFL Draft. He was drafted in the second round by the Seattle Seahawks. He spent four seasons with the Seahawks, including the Super Bowl Championship season of 2014. He then signed with the Detroit Lions as a free agent, and is currently in camp with them. He was named to the Pro Bowl in 2014.
Autry Denson - RB - 1995-98
This list wouldn’t be right without Notre Dame’s all-time leading rusher. Denson has the most career rushing yards in Notre Dame history with 4,318. He’s second all-time, just behind Allen Pinkett, for career rushing touchdowns with 43. Denson enjoyed his best season in 1997 when he rushed for 1,268 yards (fifth most in ND single-season history) and 12 touchdowns. He followed up his ‘97 campaign with another stellar one in '98, rushing for 1,176 yards with 15 touchdowns. His 15-touchdown total ranks sixth all-time for most in a single season.
After a sparkling career at Notre Dame, Denson was taken in the seventh round of the 1999 NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He spent parts of four seasons with the Bucs, Miami Dolphins, Chicago Bears and Indianapolis Colts.
After his playing days, Denson went into coaching in 2010. His first stop was at Pope John Paul II High School in Florida. He then had stops at Bethune Cookman and Miami (OH), before coming back home to Notre Dame in 2015. At ND he’s in charge of the running backs, and is also one of Brian Kelly’s best recruiters.
Art Best - RB - 1972-74
Unless you’re a diehard crazy ND fan, most of you probably have never heard of Art Best. Best wasn’t a Notre Dame legend by any stretch, but he could flat out fly. His best season came in the 1973 championship year, when he finished second on the team in rushing with 700 yards. But I included him on here for more a personal reason.
My dad was at Notre Dame in the early 70s, and once raced against Best in an inter-hall track meet. My dad and Best were on the same leg of a 4x4 relay, and my dad says that when they both had grabbed the baton, Best was about two steps in front of him. My dad never gained any ground, but neither did Best. So in a way, my dad held his own with one of the fastest players on the football team at the time.
Drue Tranquill - DB - 2014-Present
Tranquill’s career has been hampered by injuries to date, but he expects to play an important role this season as the "rover" in Mike Elko’s defense. By all accounts, Tranquill is a tremendous leader. He was named a captain for the 2017 season.
He enjoyed his first healthy season in 2016 and produced: he was first on the team in solo tackles with 52, and second on the team in total tackles with 79. He was also named an Academic All-American last season, becoming the 60th player in Notre Dame history to receive the honor.
Dave Duerson - DB - 1979-82
A four-year starter at Notre Dame, Duerson was named an All-American in 1981 and ‘82. In 1982 he was named a team captain and garnered the team’s MVP award. That season he recorded seven interceptions, which is tied for sixth most in Notre Dame single-season history.
After Notre Dame, he was drafted in the third round of the 1983 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears. As part of the vaunted 1985 Bears defense, Duerson won the first of his two Super Bowls. He won his second with the New York Giants in 1990. Duerson was also a four-time Pro-Bowler, a two-time All-Pro, and won the NFL Man of the Year Award in 1987.
Duerson tragically died in 2011, when he took his own life. After the fact, it became known that he was suffering from CTE, a neurodegenerative disease that has affected a number of former football players.
Clarence Ellis - DB - 1969-71
Ellis was a consensus All-American in 1971. He ranks fourth in Notre Dame history in career interceptions with 13. His seven interceptions in 1970 is tied for sixth in Notre Dame single-season history. Ellis was also part of the team that beat undefeated Texas in the 1971 Cotton Bowl.
Ellis was drafted 15th overall in the 1972 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons. He played three seasons for the Falcons before calling it quits.
All right, we had a good number of 23s for you. Which ones did we miss? Let us know in the comment section below. Go Irish!