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 28 days away from kickoff between the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Temple Owls, and thus here are some 28s for you.
Rocky Bleier, Nicco Fertitta, Austin Collingsworth and Kyle McCarthy days until kickoff... pic.twitter.com/psj43a9I9K— Bobby Norell (@RENorell_III) August 5, 2017
Rocky Bleier - RB - 1965-67
Bleier is perhaps more well known for his exploits after he left South Bend, but nonetheless deserves to be mentioned here. He played on Ara Parseghian’s first National Championship team in 1966 and was drafted into the NFL by the Pittsburgh Steelers after the following season. After just one season in the NFL, Bleier was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1968 during the Vietnam War. While serving over in Vietnam, Bleier was brutally injured by a grenade blast and lost part of his right foot. Doctor’s told him he would never play football again. Bleier was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star for his service to our country.
Soon after, Steelers’ owner Art Rooney sent Bleier a letter expressing that the team needed him. In a way, this inspired Bleier to get back to the football field. After several surgeries and rehab, he was discharged from the military in 1970 and finally began working out with the Steelers. Despite all he went through, Bleier managed to have a lengthy and productive NFL career. He was part of the Steelers dynasty of the 1970s, as they won four super bowls.
Bleier is not only a Notre Dame hero, but an American hero. He’s definitely someone we can all look up.
Kyle McCarthy - FS - 2006-2009
Despite being at Notre Dame during some lean years, McCarthy was a very good player and had a very good career. His 240 career tackles ranks second all-time among defensive backs in Notre Dame history. McCarthy was also the first defensive back in Notre Dame history to post back-to-back 100+ tackle seasons.
McCarthy also had one of the hardest hits that I remember seeing. In 2009 the Washington Huskies visited Notre Dame Stadium, and McCarthy came across the middle and absolutely laid out the receiver, denying the game tying touchdown in overtime.
After leaving Notre Dame, McCarthy spent four seasons in the NFL, with the Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders. His career was cut short due to knee injuries. McCarthy did come back to Notre Dame, joining Brian Kelly’s staff in 2014, although he left after only one year.
Austin Collinsworth - S - 2011-2014
It seems like there is something about safeties at Notre Dame that wore/wear 28. Collinsworth came to Notre Dame as receiver, but moved to the other side of the ball to safety after his freshman season. In 2014, his senior season, Collingsworth was named a captain, but a knee injury plagued him for much of the year. His injury was just one of many that decimated the Irish defense in the second half of 2014.
Nicco Fertitta - S - 2015-Present
To date, Fertitta has been mostly used on special teams, but he did see some action on defense last season. In fact, he gave us one of the few highlights from last season when he absolutely blew up Aca’cedric Ware of USC to force a fumble. Of course, the play was called back and Fertitta was ejected for targeting, but it was still one heckuva hit.
That’s it for our 28s. Who did I miss? Feel free to comment below!
We’ll be back tomorrow with some 27s. Stay tuned!