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Notre Dame Football: Top 25 Irish Players 20-16

Proving how ridiculous I am — one ranking at a time.

NCAA Football: Notre Dame at North Carolina Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Douglas Farmer over at NBC’s Inside The Irish has, once again, collected ballots from 12 Notre Dame Fighting Irish media members to rank the top 25 players for 2018. I am one of the 12, and have foolishly wisely decided to share my exact ballot with y’all.

The ballots were collected before the start of fall camp, so please keep that in mind.

#20 Troy Pride Jr. CB

  • Actual: Julian Okwara DE

Notre Dame has one of the best cornerbacks in the country with Julian Love, but you would barely know it right now because there is so much noise being made about Pride. From the spring to now, much has been made about Pride’s incredible speed, but many have also commented on his improvement as a football player. He could very well be the key to the Irish pass defense playing opposite Love. Think Vontez Duff and Shane Walton for a minute (and then rinse off).

#19 Shaun Crawford DB

  • Actual: Dexter Williams RB

Shaun Crawford was an incredible playmaker for the Irish during the first half of the 2017 season. He faded off a bit, but it was the first time in quite a while that he was able to go through an entire season. His body took a bit of a beating. With another offseason under Matt Balis, Crawford is in incredible shape, and looks to regain his form at the NICKEL. If Pride and Love are the comparison of Duff and Walton — I have none for Crawford. Imagine, however, another corner lurking in the defensive backfield with playmaking ability. Crawford is like the NOS for this year’s pass defense.

#18 Jonathan Bonner DT

  • Actual: Alizé Mack TE

Jonathan Bonner is a really good player and the most underrated returner from last season (say that about 5 times to get it through your head). Bonner proved to be a quality player at defensive tackle last season and was a big reason the defense was able to take a big step forward after the disaster that was 2016. This is the type of player that teams like Stanford make their living with. That’s a good thing for Notre Dame.

#17 Cole Kmet TE

  • Actual: Tony Jones Jr. RB

Notre Dame is still searching for that typical Notre Dame tight end season. So many hope have been placed on Alizé Mack, but for one reason or another Mack has never come close to living up to his potential (I did not rank Mack on my top 25 ballot). Kmet is more in the mold of a Kyle Rudolph, and maybe is even more athletic. I expect him to eventually become Notre Dame’s most reliable playmaking tight end — as well as a consistently good blocker.

#16 Tommy Kraemer RG

  • Actual: Shaun Crawford DB

Tommy Kraemer could have a really, really good season this year. His move from tackle to guard puts him at a more natural position, and it will allow him to do what he does best... maul people. Kraemer has a lot of experience, and he gives Jeff Quinn a bit of flexibility should an injury occur across the line.

The panelists:

  • Michael Bryan, 18 Stripes
  • Bryan Driskell, Blue & Gold Illustrated
  • Matt Freeman, Irish Sports Daily
  • Elizabeth Greason, The Observer
  • Tyler James, South Bend Tribune
  • Laken Litman, Indianapolis Star
  • Tim O’Malley, Irish Illustrated
  • LaMond Pope, Chicago Tribune
  • Ryan Ritter, Her Loyal Sons
  • Pete Sampson, The Athletic
  • John Vannie, ND Nation
  • Joshua Vowles, One Foot Down
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