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.
Julius Jones, Anthony Johnson, Harrison Smith, Shawn Wooden, Phil Carter and Asmar Bilal days away from kickoff... pic.twitter.com/hoBQK6L9Ll— Bobby Norell (@RENorell_III) August 11, 2017
Julius Jones - RB - 1999-2001, 2003
A few months back, I wrote about how Jones was the best running back in Notre Dame history. Jones finds himself on near the top on a number record lists, so there can be an argument made for him. He’s fifth all-time in rushing at Notre Dame with 3,018 yards. Fourth all-time in single-season rushing yards with 1,268 and holds the single-game rushing record with 262 yards. Unfortunately, Jones never played on any legendary teams, thus probably doesn’t get the recognition he deserves. He’s arguably the best running back to play in the 2000s and also arguably the best 22 in Notre Dame history.
Anthony Johnson - RB - 1986-89
Johnson isn’t going to wow you with his stats, but he played an important role on some very good Notre Dame teams. He was the short yardage, goal line back that got the tough yards. He scored touchdowns in some of Notre Dame’s most memorable games such as the 1988 Fiesta Bowl win over West Virginia, which captured the program’s 11th National Title.
Harrison Smith - FS - 2008-11
The hard hitting safety from Knoxville, TN easily has to be on this list. Smith is one of the best safeties to come through the Notre Dame program in recent memory. He recorded 309 tackles over his career, which ranks 10th all-time at Notre Dame and easily the most among defensive backs. His 2010 season was perhaps his best as he recorded 93 tackles and intercepted a team-high seven passes, which also is tied for sixth most in a season.
Smith was drafted in the first round of 2012 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings and has become one of the league’s best safeties. Last year, the two-time Pro-Bowler signed a five-year $51.25 million extension with the Vikings — making him the fourth highest paid safety in the league.