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Things People Forget About Notre Dame Football: Underrated Skills and Pep-Rally Shenanigans

Forgot they had skills like that

Purdue v Notre Dame Set Number: X84603 TK1 R2 F65

This week in things people forget about Notre Dame Fighting Irish football: a mix of pep-rally shenanigans and unknown/unappreciated skills from some Irish players past. Let’s jump in. People forget...

Armando Allen’s Bars

Armando Allen entered the 2010 season as the starter at running back, having impressed Brian Kelly in his first spring as the Irish head coach. That and a great week one performance against the Purdue Boilermakers (18 carries/93 yards/1 TD plus a 38-yard punt return) led to him speaking at the following weekend’s game against the Michigan Wolverines, where he led the crowd with a freestyle verse:

All those bars on the roster, and they still went with Freekbass. For what it’s worth, Allen had a quietly excellent game in a losing effort against the Michigan next day, with 89 yards on 15 carries including some really nifty runs. Sift through the highlights below if you dare:

Troy Niklas’ Favorite Move

When the Wolverines came back to town two years later, Troy Niklas was a second-string tight end and was given his shot at the mic, and promptly decided to make himself a little more comfortable:

The best thing about this video is the pain in the faces behind Niklas as he continues his disquisition on the need to “love the pain,” most notably his head coach. Start at about the 7 minute mark of the below video to see big Troy at the mic:

Bennett Jackson’s Return Skills

Bennett Jackson emerged as an excellent cornerback during his upperclassman years at Notre Dame, but he actually came in as a receiver and return specialist. I had forgotten how effective Jackson was in that role: in 29 kickoff returns he gained 645 yards, with highlights including a 43-yard return against the Boston College Eagles and an electric opening kickoff return in what became one of the team’s more important wins in recent history, against the Utah Utes.

A Swiss Army Knife on special teams, Jackson also racked up ten tackles as a gunner on the defensive side and converted a fake punt for a first down in 2010. He had to wait a while to become a star, but Jackson was a critical contributor from the start in South Bend.