Student-athletes from all over the country, as well as the entire world, have achieved great things on the playing field for Notre Dame. Specifically, with football, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish have produced All-Americans from 24 different states.
Because we like to get nostalgic in the spring and summer, I’m taking it upon myself to go back and make a list of the best players from individual states. I tried to take into account what these athletes accomplished individually and as a team while also thinking about the level of competition that they played against. Will you still disagree? Probably. And that’s fine.
With that, let’s take a little trip across America starting with the great state of Pennsylvania: home of the Liberty Bell, fries on a sandwich, and several notable Fighting Irish football players.
5. Mike McCoy
A two-year starter for the 1968 and 1969 seasons, the Erie native and Cathedral Prep grad had himself a particularly fantastic senior year in ‘69. That season he earned a unanimous All-America selection and the AP Lineman of the Year Award. He even finished sixth in Heisman votes that year. That ‘69 team went to ND’s first bowl game (aside from the 1925 Rose Bowl) but narrowly lost to Texas in the Cotton Bowl.
Lining up at the left defensive tackle position, McCoy made 203 tackles in his career and intercepted two passes.
He was drafted second overall by the Green Bay Packers in 1970 and went on to have an eleven year NFL career and was an NFL All-Pro at one point.
4. Mike McGlinchey
Notre Dame’s most recent All-American (along with Quenton Nelson) obliterated defensive lineman as a three-year starter for the Irish. Prior to that, the Philly native was named to just about every all-star team possible during his high school career.
While at ND, McGlinchey helped pave the way for Josh Adams and C.J. Prosise and was a big reason why the Irish set a new post World War II program record with 5.63 rushing yards per carry in 2015. The Irish won two bowl games with McGlinchey in the lineup.
McGlinchey was recently selected ninth overall by the San Francisco 49ers in the 2017 NFL Draft, so much of his football career (hopefully) is still TBD. Who knows? Maybe in a few years when some other blogger* redoes this list, he’ll be a bit higher.
*Who are we kidding? It will probably be me again.
3. Terry Hanratty
Hailing from Butler, Pennsylvania, Terry Hanratty was a three-year starter at quarterback for the Fighting Irish from 1966 to 1968. That ‘66 team would be crowned national champions at the end of the year. Hanratty started the first eight games of that season before sustaining a shoulder injury. Hanratty’s personal accolades from his ND days included finishing sixth in Heisman voting in ‘66 and third in ‘68. He also earned a unanimous All-America nod in ‘68.
Hanratty still holds several program records including pass attempts in a game (68), pass attempts per game in a season (28.1), and pass completions per game for a season (16.6).
Hanratty went on to win two Super Bowls backing up Terry Bradshaw with the Pittsburgh Steelers in ‘74 and ‘75. Between his college and pro days, that’s not a bad haul of jewelry.
Hanratty’s son Conor also played at ND from 2011 to 2015.
2. Johnny Lujack
One of the all-timers at ND, Lujack came to South Bend from Connellsville, PA in 1942. He won the starting quarterback job as a sophomore in 1943, but also played defensive back for the Irish as most stars of the era did. The 1943 season ended in a Notre Dame national championship.
As was also common in that era, Lujack spent the ‘44 and ‘45 seasons in the United States Navy before returning to lead Notre Dame to two more national championships in 1946 and 1947. The Irish didn’t lose a game in Lujack’s junior or senior campaign.
In his final two seasons at Notre Dame, Lujack was named a unanimous All-American and won the Heisman trophy in 1947, along with the AP Athlete of the Year Award and the Sporting News Player of the Year Award.
Currently, at age 93, Lujack is the oldest living Heisman winner. Here’s hoping he holds that distinction for many more years.
1. Raghib Ismail
A product of Meyers High School in Wilkes-Barre, “Rocket” Ismail immediately made an immediate impact for the Irish earning a starting spot at wide receiver in 1988. The Irish won the national championship that year.
Ismail was an All-American in 1989 and 1990 and won the Walter Camp Player of the Year award in 1990. He also finished second in the Heisman race that year to BYU’s Ty Detmer.
Also a dynamite kick return specialist, Ismail’s college career was one big highlight reel. Ismail still holds program records for pass reception yards per catch in a career with 22 (71 for 1565), kickoff returns for touchdowns in a game with two (which he did twice) and in a career with five, and kick return yards per attempt in a career with 22.6 (17 for 1607).
Ismail went on to win the 1991 Grey Cup with the Toronto Argonauts before a nine-year NFL career. In 2002, College Football news ranked Ismail as the 75th best college football player of all time.
If you were too young to see Ismail during his playing days, do yourself a favor and go on a YouTube binge of his highlights. Just try not to blink too much or you’ll miss the good stuff.