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Fri-YAY Listicle: The Most Punnable Names on the 2021 Notre Dame Football Roster

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Champions are made in the off-season, and champion pun-makers are no exception. Let’s get ready for the fall!!!

NCAA Football: Notre Dame Blue-Gold Game Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome, everyone, to the weekly One Foot Down listicle! Each week on Friday, Matt Greene and I will alternate providing for you all a listicle of the greatest/top/best Notre Dame Fighting Irish-related things we can think of. They might be more serious, but mostly they will probably be wacky (what else would you honestly expect from the two of us?). We are AMPED to provide these for you each week.

LET’S TALK ABOUT PUNNABLE NAMES

This week, it’s time to dust off one of my favorite topics — Notre Dame football player names! Specifically, though, we’re going to be looking at the pun-ability of them. Just like the team has spring practice and summer camp to make sure they’re ready come the fall, so, too, do all of us need to get up to speed on the best puns to tweet and comment about during games this year.

This is especially important because of what was lost from the 2020 CFP squad. With graduations and NFL Draft picks and transfers, etc., no longer will we be able to make jokes like the below:

  • When Jack Lamb and some teammates fly to the ball and make a gang tackle: “Look at how Lamb SHEPHERDED his teammates, causing them to really FLOCK to the ball there!”
  • When a Jafar Armstrong halfback pass attempt comes up extremely short: “More like Jafar ARM-WEAK, amiright???”
  • When a big run breaks loose on the left side of the offense, from a formation with Brock Wright as an in-line tight end: “Notice how Kyren Williams chose to cut left, which was absolutely the WRIGHT move with the blocking he had in front of him. I’ll TELLER ya, there’s no safer place to be than using BANKS to protect your assets.”
  • When ND runs a throwback pass to the QB in garbage time: “J.D. Carney with the CIRCUS catch there — and then you gotta love what he does after the catch behind the blocking of his fellow walk-on teammate from Kansas — he really does know how to (Colin) gRUNHARD!”
  • When a talented young tight end scores his first TD:

Oh, and then, of course, there’s the loss of Ian Book — a guy who maaaay have given all of us (especially me) just a tiny bit of punny material to overuse and beat into the ground over the last few years...

So, considering the punnable names that left the team, where do we go from here as a fan base that certainly appreciates a groan-worthy pun or 100???

Never fear — I’ve scoured the 2021 roster for great choices, and have selected an Honorable Mention list and a Top 10 that would make Ian Book proud. I’ll even throw in some thought-starters for each, just to ensure we’re all firing on all cylinders come September.

I also ask that you chime in in the comments with your own favorite puns to make with this squad, along with any I might have missed. This needs to be a team effort, you guys.

The Most Punnable 2021 Notre Dame Football Names — HONORABLE MENTION

  • Caleb Offord: *makes an interception* “The opposing QB really OFFORD that one up for the young corner to pick it off!”
  • Houston Griffith: *he does something good* “HOUSTON, we have lift off!”; *he does something bad* “HOUSTON, we have a problem!”
  • DJ Brown/Drew White: I don’t know, some sort of color puns
  • Rocco Spindler: there’s a whole world of pizza puns available if you wanna make a Rocco’s Pizza joke for the South Bend locals
  • Xavier Watts: *scores a touchdown* “WATTS the defense supposed to do to stop that???”
  • Brennan Wicks: “That blitzing linebacker might as well just be some moisture, because he just got turned away by the offensive line’s WICK(s)ing technology!!!”
  • Lorenzo Styles Jr: you could conceivably make a number of fashion/hair stylist puns with this young WR
  • Ryan Barnes: would have made the top 10 if Jack Lamb was still here for a farm pun combo; still, plenty to work with here (“The QB threw that ball and Barnes said ‘HAY!’ and then immediately said ‘NEIGH!’ in denying the receiver and knocking the ball down.”)
  • Henry Cook: tons of culinary puns work here, he’s only honorable mention because like several others here, he likely won’t be in the game much for us to use those puns
  • Marcus Thorne: “They say in terms of the defensive practice squad, Marcus has really been a THORNE in receivers’ sides — he’s really poked and prodded them to make them better.”
  • Howard Cross III: a guy with the last name Cross at the country’s premier Catholic university? Use your imagination, this one shouldn’t be hard.
  • Cane Berrong: sugar cane jokes early in his career, old guy jokes if he’s still playing for ND as a senior/grad student
  • Rylie Mills: get excited to pull out all your best jokes about buildings equipped with machinery for grinding grain into flour!!!
  • Josh Lugg: “This big LUGG” or “He’s really having to LUGG his underperforming teammates up and down the field”
  • Axel Raarup: another guy I wish would be playing more — plenty of car puns are in play here, as well as some Guns N’ Roses material

The Most Punnable 2021 Notre Dame Football Names — THE TOP TEN

Alright, let’s do this — based both on punnable name and playing time, here’s what I see as the top 10 most punnable names on the 2021 squad!

10. Tosh Baker

NCAA Football: Notre Dame Blue-Gold Game Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

It’s starting to look more and more like Tosh Baker might not be a starter in 2021, which could take away lots of opportunity for pun-making with his surname. However, he’s still going to be a key reserve on the offensive line at worst, and so I’m sure we will see him on the field at some point this season.

I DOUGHn’t think I really KNEAD to show you a large MIX of baking puns to employ in that situation, though. Baker is just a FLANtastic moniker with essentially BUNlimited potential. Just try to think OVEN EGGcellent one and run with it — now we’re COOKIN’.

9. Lawrence Keys III

NCAA Football: Notre Dame at Stanford Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Yes, I know we shouldn’t be getting overly excited about Lawrence Keys’ 5-catch, 115-yard performance in the Blue-Gold Game — especially because he was targeted FOURTEEN TIMES and only managed to finish with those 5 receptions.

But one thing we CAN be excited about regarding Keys is that the punnability of his name is still strong, no matter how much he steps up as a receiver in 2021. His name really UNLOCKS a lot of options, including a MEDLEY of piano/music puns as well as the limitless possibilities and CONTROL engendered by the SHIFT to computer keyboard jokes.

8. Michael Mayer

NCAA Football: Rose Bowl-Notre Dame vs Alabama Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

One of the best CANDIDATES on the team for being the most talented individual player, Michael Mayer also has my VOTE for being a top-10 punnable name.

His name doesn’t open up a bunch of different options like some other guys on this list — it’s really quite speCIVIC in its potential scope. But we can’t ELECT to let versatility alone GOVERN what we decide as the most punnable names.

Some names, like Mayer’s, simply offer a really fun subject area, and because the guaranteed big plays he’ll make in 2021 will give us ample opportunity to use it, I think it should be POLICY to really hammer home the political puns with this guy.

7. Cam Hart

Notre Dame Spring Game Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

This one is pretty easy to understand, but I’d LOVE to give you a quick SNAPSHOT of what I think we can do with Cam Hart’s name.

Obviously, “Hart” opens up any and all puns related to love/romance, pumping blood, organs of the body, organ donation, etc. Tons of ideas to play with there. I highly recommend someone runs with using this song:

Then, “Cam” adds some possibilities as well. Obviously camera/camcorder terminology comes to mind here, but maybe you could go the route of CAM (either “Computer Aided Manufacturing” or “Complementary and Alternative Medicine”), because both of those could get really unique and interesting.

6. Blake Fisher

Hopefully this one doesn’t seem too FISHY as to why it’s in the list. By this point in the article, I assume I’ve HOOKED you all with the desire to determine great puns for these kids, and so Blake’s last name should allow for an essentially endless supply of piscine puns to REEL IN plenty of Twitter likes.

Personally, I’ll probably try to make lots of Finding Nemo references (e.g. “Did Blake Fisher settle for just blocking one guy on that Kyren “Bellyman” Williams TD run? No, he said “just keep swimming” and went downfield to bulldoze a helpless defensive back.”), but feel free to really get creative here.

Maybe that means tying in any of the 6 (!!!) Sharknado movies, giving us ample opportunity to make references to Ian Ziering, Tara Reid, Mark McGrath, Vivica A. Fox, etc. Or perhaps Fisher meets his match at some point in the season going against a bigger, stronger upperclassman defensive end — “We’re gonna need a bigger Blake” would be one helluva classic movie reference, you guys.

Whatever it is, having an entire SEA of puns to choose from makes this choice a no-brainer.

5. Jack Kiser

NCAA Football: Notre Dame at Boston College Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Jack Kiser’s name is pretty damn punnable on multiple levels. First of all, his first name has plenty of potential, both in terms of what “Jack” can mean as a verb (to steal, etc.) AND as a noun (the tool you use to lift a car off the ground when changing a tire — opens up the entire world of automotive puns).

But then “Kiser” is a SUPER interesting one too. Maybe you want to make some jokes about your favorite integrated managed care consortium, Kaiser Permanente. Or maybe you want to open up your pun arsenal to include anything related to WWII and the military, using the Kaiser Tank as a jumping-off point. Or maybe you live in Chicago and can’t help but make some Kaiser Tiger shout-outs (love that bar). Or hell, perhaps you’re just a big The Usual Suspects fan and want to make tons of Keyser Söze references.

No matter what direction you want to go, Jack Kiser is a guy who stands to play a lot in 2021, and whose name enables us to make a number of very unique and fun puns.

4. Jack Coan

NCAA Football: Notre Dame Blue-Gold Game Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

First, let me agree with everyone else that, when combined with Drew Pyne, Jack Coan’s punnability soars to the top of the list — Pyne/Coan is just a wild coincidence for the names of two guys at one position on one football team, and the coniferous puns it allows us to make are fantastic. Reminds me of when Ian Book and Deon McIntosh were in the same backfield in 2017 (what could have been, MacBook).

Unfortunately, I’m only ranking these guys on their individual names alone, and so Coan makes the list but doesn’t quite get to be at the top. However, he does have pretty great name versatility here, considering “Jack” can be used a few different ways (as explained above) and “Coan” lends itself to a number of different avenues — the aforementioned pine cone jokes, anything you want to say about traffic cones, all ice cream puns by way of the ice cream cone connection — there’s really a lot to work with here, especially considering Coan will likely start at QB and give us plenty of opportunity to tweet about him.

My personal favorite: somehow incorporating the “cone of shame” into the mix, either for Coan himself if he does something wrong, or for opponents if Coan puts them to shame with some awesome passes.

3. Drew Pyne

NCAA Football: Notre Dame Blue-Gold Game Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Drew Pyne makes the top 3 because I firmly believe his full name can literally explain what he did in terms of the quarterback battle with Ian Book departing and Jack Coan grad-transferring in — he “drew pine” in that competition/lottery, relegated to a likely backup role at QB for 2021 and possibly beyond.

But besides that, there’s obviously plenty of other puns to make here. “Drew” is the past tense of the verb “draw,” which LEADs me to SKETCH out a lot of drawing puns. PENCIL me in for making a few SHADE jokes if Drew ever gets involved in some drama and tweets some trash talk publicly.

Furthermore, “Pyne” obviously enables us to go the same coniferous route as “Coan,” but further gives us the verb “pine” and provides us the opportunity to say the Irish receivers “Pyne for” better passes to be thrown their way. Also, if we really wanna get wild, we could always use “Chris Pine” as a jumping-off point to make references to any of his movies. That means Star Trek jokes, Wonder Woman jokes, and, most importantly, The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement jokes!!!

2. Chase Love

For any and all walk-ons I identified as potential candidates for the top 10, I relegated them to Honorable Mention because they wouldn’t be seeing the field much, and thus despite some very punnable names, the opportunity wouldn’t really be there to use those puns during the 2021 season.

For this one and the next one, I am breaking that rule — that’s how good these are. “Chase Love” is an incredible name, because it’s not only a name that allows for fantastic puns related to love/romance and to police/car chases, but also because his name is literally a solid piece of life advice.

Lots of people in this world focus on the wrong things — they spend their lives chasing money or power or fame or storms, but we all know that as you grow older, you realize that the only thing really worth chasing in this life is, of course, love.

Hats off to Chase Love, whose name reminds us of that every time we see it — the automatic, unforced, wise-as-hell punny name we all need.

1. Hunter Spears

As beautiful as “Chase Love” is in terms of punny names, it simply cannot hold up to the ONSLAUGHT brought on by Hunter Spears, whose name is absolutely perfect — especially for a big guy playing a sport full of big guys being violent with each other.

The junior offensive guard is somewhat buried on the depth chart, meaning there’s a very good chance we don’t have many real chances to make the SHARP, POINTED, PIERCING puns we want to make at the expense of opposing defensive linemen when he EVISCERATES them.

However, like Chase Love, I simply couldn’t let that keep this name from the top of the list. Hunter’s parents should be commended for having the courage to make their son’s name so powerful, tough, gritty, violent, etc. It just absolutely KILLS me. Only thing better is if their second son was named Gatherer, and maybe ended up as a wide receiver or something.

So, let’s all make sure we fire off some tweets this year — perhaps during the bye week — tossing out our best hunting/stabbing/weaponry/military puns in honor of the most punnable name on the 2021 Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Hunter Spears. Kid deserves that kind of love with a name like that.

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Sound off in the comments with your favorite ND player name puns — especially any I overlooked in my listicle!*

*Pat Rick Note: I just realized I built this entire listicle with the spring roster, so my apologies to guys like Prince Kollie, Khari Gee, and Logan Diggs who haven’t yet enrolled. I ask that y’all definitely provide some solid puns for them in the comments, to make up for my oversight

LET’S CREATE THE MOST GROAN-WORTHY COMMENT SECTION IN THE HISTORY OF SB NATION!!!!!!!!!!!!