This list was very difficult in composing as many a great college football and NFL star from Notre Dame were excluded. It easily could have been expanded to the top 20 or 30 players. The selection was based solely on players’ Fighting Irish resumes and not their professional ones.
I now humbly present to you the top ten Notre Dame Fighting Irish offensive layers of All-Time.
1. Paul Hornung (QB) (1954-1956)
The “Golden Bear” played for Notre Dame for three seasons from 1954-1956. He was extremely versatile as he also served a fullback. From 1955-56 Hornung was selected as an All-American. He won the Heisman trophy in 1956 in a year which saw him place second in the nation in total offense, second in kickoff returns, 15th in passing and 16th in scoring. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1985 and Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1986. Each year the Paul Hornung award is given to the most versatile player in college football.
2. Wayne Milner (End) (1933-1935)
Milner is remembered for two memorable plays in his Notre Dame career. Against an unbeaten Army squad in 1933 Milner blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown to give The Fighting Irish a 13-12 win. He also appeared in what was widely considered the game of the century against Ohio State in 1935 in a battle of the unbeatens. In the final seconds of the game Milner caught TD pass to seal a 18-13 win for Notre Dame. He was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1968 and the enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame in 1990. He was such a popular and well-liked player that the whole Washington Redskins organization attended Milner’s funeral in 1976.
3. Johnny Lujack (QB) (1943, 1946-47)
Lujack was an incredible athlete lettering in basketball, baseball, track and football in 1943-1944 season. He was the first to do so at Notre Dame since 1912. He wasn’t too shabby at QB either especially from 1946-1947. Over that span he led the team to two national championships and a 17-0-1 record and garnered two All-American honors and a Heisman trophy along the way. Lujack also starred at defensive halfback. He became a member of the College Football Hall of Fame in 1960.
4. George Gipp (Halfback) (1917-1920)
Besides being an inspiration for Knute Rockne’s uplifting speech to his team on Nov. 10, 1928 and people everywhere forever enshrined in the phrase “Win one for the Gipper!” Lets not forget the Gipper was a terrific player. He played on two consecutive undefeated Fighting Irish teams in his final seasons. For his career the Gipper tallied 2,341 rushing yards (a record that stood for 50 years) and 1,769 passing yards. He scored 156 points as well. The Gipper was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1951.
5. Johnny Lattner (Halfback) (1951-53)
Lattner was the jack of all trades excelling as a running back, receiver, punter, and defender. He leads the Fighting Irish in many statistical categories including the all purpose yardage mark. Lattner was awarded the Heisman for all around excellence in 1953 and recognized as an All-American for 2 years. Lattner became enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame in 1979.
6. Joe Montana (QB)
In spite of his prolific Pro Football career Joe was an unheralded college football player. He is responsible however for engineering some of the greatest comebacks in Notre Dame history including a come from behind victory over Houston in the 1979 Cotton Bowl. “Joe Cool” was the starting QB for the 1977 Notre Dame national championship team.
7. Red Sitko (Halfback/Fulback) (1946-1949)
Sitko was a member of the football class that never lost a game over the four year span going 36-0-2. One of the most prolific backs in Fighting Irish history Red Sitko earned his nickname “Six-Yard” by averaging 6 yards a carry to lead his team in rushing over four years and kick returns with an average over 22 per. He made the All-America teams of 1948 and 1949. Sitko was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1984.
8. Frank Carideo (1928 to 1930)
Another all-around Fighting Irish athlete Carideo excelled on both sides of the field as a quarterback, punter, kick and punt returner and defender as well. He set many records as a punt and kick returner. Carideo helmed the last of Knute Rockne’s teams at Quarterback leading the Fighting Irish to two championships and back-to-back undefeated seasons. He was a two time All-American in 1929 and 1930 and became part of the College Football Hall of Fame in 1954.
9. Raghib Ismail (WR) (1988-90)
Ismail was nicknamed “The Rocket” for his lightning quickness and his threat to rocket to the endzone each time he touched the ball. He ran a 4.24 in the 40 yard dash. A recipient of the highly coveted Walter Camp award, “The Rocket” was a 2 time All-American in 1989 and 1990. He totaled over 4,000 all-purpose yards and holds the school record of averaging 22.0 yards per reception.
10. Tim Brown (WR) (1984-1987)
“Touchdown Timmy” was a force at wide receiver. He quickly made his presence felt as Freshman by setting a record of 28 receptions. Brown would go on to be the first receiver to receive the Heisman while picking up the Walter Camp award and twice being recognized as an All-American along the way.” Touchdown Timmy” also set the Notre Dame record for all-purpose yards in a season with 1,937 as a junior. Brown went to have an illustrious pro career. He was named to the 90s NFL all-decade team.
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