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 countdown to the first game. Today we are officially 17 days away from kickoff between the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Temple Owls, so here are your 17s...be cautious it was slim pickins
Hunter Smith, James Onwualu, Joey Hildbold and Zeke Motta days until kickoff... pic.twitter.com/CQ35rD4NvO— Bobby Norell (@RENorell_III) August 16, 2017
Zeke Motta - FS - 2009-12
Motta was a pretty solid contributor throughout his four seasons in South Bend. In his freshman season of 2009, he was one of three freshmen to play in every single game. He again played in every game in 2010, starting in eight contests. He recorded 50 tackles, which was good enough for seventh on the team. He had almost an identical year in 2011, starting in eight games but recording 50 tackles. His senior season was perhaps the best, as he started every game while recording a career high 77 tackles. In the 2013 BCS National Championship thrashing to Alabama, Motta set a single-game career high with 16 tackles.
Joey Hildbold - P - 1999-2002
Hildbold was one of the better punters in recent Notre Dame memory. He didn’t play on the best of Notre Dame teams, so he was used quite frequently, thus his name is near the top on punting lists at Notre Dame. He holds the record for punts in one season, as he booted 78 for the Irish in 2002. Hildbold is also ranked second all-time in career punts with 256, only trailing Blair Kiel. He also sits eighth among Irish punters in average yards per punt.
Hunter Smith - P - 1995-98
Here we are with another punter. Interestly enough, Smith came to Notre Dame as a quarterback and also high jumped on the Irish track team — so he wasn’t your average punter. He went on to become one of the best. His 41.2 yards per punt sits fourth all-time on the record list. Unlike Hildbold, Smith played on some better teams, so his usage wasn’t nearly the same and that’s why his career numbers aren’t as high.
Smith went on to have a very successful 12-year career in the NFL with the Indianapolis Colts and Washington Redskins. He was a two-time All-Pro alternate, and was on the All-Rookie team in 1999. Smith also won the Super Bowl with the Colts in 2007
James Onwualu - LB - 2013-16
Onwualu was another 17 that came to Notre Dame at one position and left playing another. He came to the Irish as a wide receiver, but after catching just two passes his freshman season he switched to the defensive side of the ball — a move he suggested to the coaching staff. He played in every game, but two the rest of his career — starting in 29 of them. Despite the team going 4-8, 2016 was his best as a member of the Irish. He recorded 75 tackles, good enough for third on the team and racked up 11.5 tackles for loss — best on the team.
Onwualu signed as an undrafted free agent with the Los Angeles Chargers this past offseason, and is currently in training camp.