Notre Dame football is rich with a deep tradition but which Fighting Irish players have carried it on and earned a place on Mount Rushmore?
For better or worse, you can’t mention college football without Notre Dame football entering the conversation. If the Fighting Irish is good, the sport is simply more exciting to watch, whether that’s because their fans are excited about what could happen or because fans of other teams throughout the country want to watch them fail.
Few programs can match the long-term success Notre Dame football has enjoyed. With 11 National Championships in their history, it’s a crowded trophy case. But at the same time, they have just one title in the modern era (1988). But don’t let that make you think that the Fighting Irish hasn’t seen plenty of all-time greats entrench themselves in the fabric of South Bend.
Who is the best of those great players in the modern era? That’s a tough question to answer but we’ve narrowed it down to the Mount Rushmore for Notre Dame football in the modern era. First, however, let’s look at a trio of players who were great in their own right but just missed out on the top four.
Michael Floyd was a consistent force in the Notre Dame passing attack and he has the records to prove it. He’s the career leader for the Irish in receptions (271), receiving yards (3,686) and receiving touchdowns (37). He may never have been as singularly dominant as other players at wide receiver but his overall body of work in unmatched.
Before going on to win Super Bowls with the Giants, Justin Tuck was dominant for the Irish. He’s the career-leader in school history with 24.5, despite playing only three seasons. Furthermore, he has the single-season record with sacks at 13.5. Tuck is the most dominant defensive force that Notre Dame football has ever seen.
Maybe the greatest defensive back in Notre Dame history, Todd Lyght was a monster in the secondary. He had the greatest single season of the modern era for the Irish with eight interceptions and 46 tackles in 1989 and, while he had only 11 career picks, his peak in college was as high as any player.