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The Best Notre Dame Football Players of All Time

Updated May 22, 2020 33.9k votes 3.8k voters 83.6k views82 items

List RulesOnly vote on the players based on their career at Notre Dame

A list of the best Notre Dame football players of all time. Notre Dame University's Fightin' Irish are a college football institution. Some of college football's most storied teams and greatest players of all time have played for the Golden Domers. For years, Notre Dame has lured the best football players in the land to South Bend, Ind. to play football for the school. Notre Dame's alumni are some of the most famous people to graduate from the school. The program started in 1888 and almost immediately became a national powerhouse.Those early Fightin' Irish teams had some of the school's greatest players ever, including George Gipp. A legend in Notre Dame folklore, Gipp was the school's first first team All-American player. Despite not playing football until he got to Notre Dame, Gipp led the Irish in rushing and passing each of his last three seasons 1918, 1919 and 1920. He was also the subject of head coach Knute Rockne's greatest speech when he said "Win one for the Gipper."

Over the years, Notre Dame's best players have gone onto successful NFL careers. Paul Hornung and Alan Page are both in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and longtime Raiders receiver and Heisman Trophy winner Tim Brown is on the cusp of being inducted as well. Raghib "Rocket" Ismail had a long, successful career in the pros after an outstanding career at Notre Dame. So who are the best Notre Dame players in the pros today? Perhaps New York GIants defensive end Justin Tuck. Though he played on some solid teams at Notre Dame, Tuck won two Super Bowls in the NFL and is one of the best players to come from the school in recent years. Recently, Manti Te'o added himself to the list of the greatest players in Notre Dame history when he finished second in the Heisman Trophy balloting. 

This is the list of the best Notre Dame football players of all time. If you notice someone is missing, feel free to add him. Vote or rerank this list according to who you think is the greatest Notre Dame Fightin' Irish football player ever. 
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  • 1
    Joe Montana
    1,745
    247

    Joe Montana

    Quarterback

    BirthplaceNew Eagle, Pennsylvania, United States of America

    Age64

    TeamsNotre Dame Fighting Irish football, San Francisco 49ers, Kansas City Chiefs

  • 2
    Jerome Bettis
    1,206
    244

    Jerome Bettis

    Running back

    BirthplaceDetroit, Michigan, USA

    Age48

    TeamsPittsburgh Steelers, St. Louis Rams

  • 3
    Tim Brown
    1,232
    251
  • 4
    Alan Page
    700
    187

    Alan Page

    Defensive tackle, Defensive end

    BirthplaceCanton, Ohio, USA

    Age75

    TeamsChicago Bears, Minnesota Vikings

  • 5
    Paul Hornung
  • 6
    Raghib Ismail
    775
    246

    Raghib Ismail

    Return specialist, Wide receiver

    BirthplaceElizabeth, New Jersey, United States of America

    Age50

    TeamsNotre Dame Fighting Irish football

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    #125 of 214 The Best Wide Receivers of All Time#35 of 106 The Fastest NFL Players of All Time

  • 7
    Harrison Smith
    610
    168

    Harrison Smith

    Safety

    BirthplaceKnoxville, Tennessee

    Age31

    TeamsMinnesota Vikings

  • 8
    Chris Zorich
    466
    116

    Chris Zorich

    Defensive tackle, Tackle

    BirthplaceChicago, Illinois

    Age51

    More Chris Zorich 

    #318 of 432 The Greatest Defenders in NFL History#19 of 42 The Best NFL Players From Illinois

  • 9
    Zack Martin
  • 10
    Justin Tuck
    576
    172

    Justin Tuck

    Defensive end

    BirthplaceKellyton, Alabama

    Age37

    TeamsNew York Giants

  • 11
    Ricky Watters
    558
    171

    Ricky Watters

    Running back

    BirthplaceHarrisburg, Pennsylvania, United States of America

    Age51

    TeamsSeattle Seahawks

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    #58 of 206 The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time#85 of 322 People Who Should Be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame

  • 12
    Dave Casper
    478
    156

    Dave Casper

    Tight end, Wide receiver

    BirthplaceBemidji, Minnesota

    Age69

    More Dave Casper 

    #10 of 57 The Best College Football Tight Ends of All Time#13 of 87 The Greatest Tight Ends Of All Time

  • 13
    Joe Theismann
    795
    301

    Joe Theismann

    Quarterback

    BirthplaceNew Brunswick, New Jersey, United States of America

    Age71

    TeamsNotre Dame Fighting Irish football, Washington Redskins, Toronto Argonauts

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    #106 of 150 Athletes You Didn't Know Were Conservative#44 of 252 The Best Quarterbacks Of All Time

  • 14
    Golden Tate
    777
    253

    Golden Tate

    Wide receiver

    BirthplaceHendersonville, Tennessee

    Age32

    TeamsSeattle Seahawks, Notre Dame Fighting Irish football

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    #24 of 119 The Best Detroit Lions of All Time#32 of 53 Who Is the Best Wide Receiver in the NFL Right Now?

  • 15
    Quentin Nelson
    489
    51

    Quentin Nelson

  • 16
    Jaylon Smith
    532
    63

    Jaylon Smith

    Linebacker

    BirthplaceFort Wayne, IN

    Age23

    TeamsNotre Dame

  • 17
    Jeff Samardzija
    538
    177

    BirthplaceMerrillville, Ross Township, Indiana

    Age35

    TeamsSan Francisco Giants

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    #253 of 273 The Top Current Baseball Players#44 of 58 The Best College Football Wide Receivers of All Time

  • 18
    Johnny Lujack
    384
    113

    Johnny Lujack

    Quarterback

    BirthplaceConnellsville, Pennsylvania

    Age95

    TeamsChicago Bears

  • 19
    George Gipp
    439
    141

    George Gipp

    Running back, Halfback

    BirthplaceLaurium, Michigan

    AgeDec. at 25 (1895-1920)

    TeamsNotre Dame Fighting Irish football

  • 20
    Kyle Rudolph
    552
    203

    Kyle Rudolph

    Tight end

    BirthplaceCincinnati, Ohio

    Age30

    TeamsMinnesota Vikings

  • 21
    Tyler Eifert
    640
    248

    Tyler Eifert

    Tight end

    BirthplaceFort Wayne, Indiana

    Age30

    TeamsCincinnati Bengals

  • 22
    Manti Te'o
    734
    313

    Manti Te'o

    Linebacker

    BirthplaceLaie, Hawaii

    Age29

    TeamsNotre Dame Fighting Irish football, San Diego Chargers

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    #7 of 19 The Most Ridiculous Sports Hoaxes You’ve Never Heard About#6 of 35 The Best NFL Players From Hawaii

  • 23
    Bob Golic
    373
    136

    Bob Golic

    Defensive tackle, Tackle

    BirthplaceCleveland, Ohio, United States of America

    Age62

    More Bob Golic 

    #26 of 83 The Greatest Defensive Tackles of All Time#32 of 61 The Best NFL Players From Ohio

  • 24
    Michael Floyd
    471
    181

    Michael Floyd

    Wide receiver

    BirthplaceSaint Paul, Minnesota

    Age30

    TeamsNotre Dame Fighting Irish football, Arizona Cardinals

  • 25
    Johnny Lattner
    274
    79

    Johnny Lattner

    Running back, Halfback

    BirthplaceChicago, Illinois

    Age87

    More Johnny Lattner 

    #61 of 83 The Best Heisman Trophy Winners of All Time#24 of 36 The Best Notre Dame Fighting Irish Running Backs of All Time