Much has been said about the 12-1 season for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and their #5 final ranking in the AP Poll (which is crap). A constant statement is that Notre Dame didn’t have the players to compete with the very best in college football — mainly the Clemson Tigers and the Alabama Crimson Tide.
While that is most likely true from top to bottom on the roster, the Irish still had a good amount of players ranked in the Top 50 of Pro football Focus’s Top 101 players for 2018.
If you want to keep track:
- Alabama had 6 players in the 101 with 4 in the top 25
- Clemson had 7 players in the 101 with 5 in the top 50
HERE’S HOW THE IRISH RANKED
#15 Jerry Tillery DT
Tillery utilized his hand speed and brute power to disrupt the passing attack of opponents like no other in 2018, leading the nation’s interior defensive linemen with his 92.5 pass-rush grade. He brought down 47 QB pressures on his 413 pass-rushes, winning 19.1% of his pass-rush snaps in a figure that is second only to Quinnen Williams. Tillery was his best against the pass but had shining moments against the run as well, proving he wasn’t just a one-trick pony in the middle of the Fighting Irish defense.
#28 Te’Von Coney LB
Solid across the board, Coney joins Woodward as the only two linebackers to field 90.0-plus graded in run defense, tackling, coverage and overall grade this season. His identical 91.5 facet grades in run defense and tackling efficiency show how strong he was in stopping the opponent’s rushing attack while his 90.5 coverage grade depicts just how well he stymied the opposing passing attack over the middle. He allowed just 51.4% of targets thrown his way to be caught and saw just a 50.7 passer rating on those throws.
#30 Julian Love CB
Love’s best football was played at his position’s highest priority: in coverage. He finished with the fourth-highest coverage grade among cornerbacks and forced an incompletion on 22.8% of his targeted passes. His 14 stops in coverage were good enough for seventh most this year as he had no trouble bringing down ball carriers whether it was a receiver or a running back. In total, he missed just four of his 64 tackle attempts this year.
#48 Alohi Gilman S
Finishing with the nation’s highest grade at safety, Gilman put forth one of the lower-graded outings in the College Football Playoff but that should in no means discredit what he was able to do over the course of the season. Against Syracuse’s potent aerial attack, he was targeted three times and came away with two interceptions, showcasing his elite coverage skills for the position.
Only Alohi Gilman will return to the Irish in 2019.