Boasting 11 national championships and seven Heisman Trophy winners, Notre Dame is perhaps the most iconic and successful program in college football.

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, here are our top ten Fighting Irish football players of all time [in no particular order].
Notre Dames Finest | Football | Fighting Irish
The most clutch player in school history, Joe Montana led the Irish to the 1977 national championship.
Notre Dames Finest | Football | Fighting Irish2
The last of only two lineman ever to win the Heisman Trophy, Leon Hart was a three-time All-American who led Notre Dame to three national titles.  The first pick of the 1950 NFL Draft guided the Detroit Lions to three league championships in eight years.
Notre Dames Finest | Football | Fighting Irish
The first player to win the Heisman while playing for a losing team, Paul Hornung played halfback, fullback and quarterback for the Fighting Irish in the mid-1950s.  He later starred for Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers.
Notre Dames Finest | Football | Fighting Irish
As a sophomore, Jerome Bettis scored a school-record 23 touchdowns, which still stands.  The Bus was a six-time Pro Bowler in 13 NFL seasons, driving him to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Notre Dames Finest | Football | Fighting Irish
The legendary Grantland Rice wrote that George Connor was “the closest thing to a Greek God since Apollo.”  A two-time All-American and first winner of the Outland Trophy as college football’s best lineman, Connor never lost a game during his time in South Bend.
Notre Dames Finest | Football | Fighting Irish 6
As a wide receiver and kick returner, Tim Brown gained the most all-purpose yards in school history.  In 1987, Touchdown Timmy became the first wideout to win the Heisman Trophy and is a member of both the college and pro football halls of fame.
Notre Dames Finest | Football | Fighting Irish 8
An All-American defensive tackle who led the Irish to the 1966 national championship, Alan Page is one of only two defensive players ever named NFL MVP.  A member of both the college and pro football halls of fame, Page served as a Minnesota Supreme Court justice for over 20 years.
Notre Dames Finest | Football | Fighting Irish 8
Possibly the best all-around player in school history, John Lujack quarterbacked Notre Dame to the 1943 national championship as a sophomore.  After serving two years in the Navy during World War II, the real-life John Wayne returned to guide N.D. to two more titles while winning the 1947 Heisman Trophy.  Lujack lettered in four sports at Notre Dame and later led the NFL in rushing and passing.
Notre Dames Finest | Football | Fighting Irish 9
Ross Browner may be the finest defensive player Notre Dame has ever produced.  A four-year starter at defensive end, he was twice named All-American.  In 1977, Browner swept the Outland, Maxwell, Lombardi awards while being named UPI Lineman of the Year.
Notre Dames Finest | Football | Fighting Irish 10
A track and football star, Raghib Ismail is the most feared player ever to wear the Golden Helmet.  A 1990 consensus All-American and Walter Camp Award winner, the Rocket was an electrifying wide receiver and kick returner, earning him a spot on the Top 100 Greatest College Football Players of All-Time team.
Notre Dames Finest | Football | Fighting Irish 11

 

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  1. Jerome Bettis and Raghib Ismail were at Notre Dame during my time there. Both class acts and so much fun to watch—great football players and even better people.
    Whenever I see a close college football game, I remember what it felt like in the stands while watching The Rocket get ready for a kick return. There was never, ever a doubt that he could carry it all the way back and win it—and we watched him do that many times. What great memories of a storied time in ND football history under Lou Holtz. Go Irish!

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