Sports

The Best Notre Dame Football Players of All Time 

Ranker College Football
Originally by
Updated May 22, 2020 29.9k votes 3.6k voters 81.6k views 82 items

List Rules Only 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. 
list ordered by
1
Joe Montana is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Notre Dame Football Players of All Time
Quarterback from New Eagle, Pennsylvania, United States of America

Age: 59

Teams: Notre Dame Fighting Irish football, San Francisco 49ers, Kansas City Chiefs

More Joe Montana 

#14 of 252 The Best Quarterbacks Of All Time #13 of 1,816 The Best Athletes Of All Timelisted on Athletes You Didn't Know Were Conservative

2
Tim Brown is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Notre Dame Football Players of All Time

Age: 52

Teams: Notre Dame Fighting Irish football, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Oakland Raiders

More Tim Brown 

#102 of 1,323 The Best Football Players Ever #17 of 214 The Best Wide Receivers of All Time #18 of 83 The Best Heisman Trophy Winners of All Time

3
Jerome Bettis is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Notre Dame Football Players of All Time
Running back from Detroit, Michigan, United States of America

Age: 47

Teams: Pittsburgh Steelers, St. Louis Rams

More Jerome Bettis 

#80 of 1,323 The Best Football Players Ever #21 of 206 The Best NFL Running Backs of All Timelisted on Athletes You Didn't Know Were Conservative

4
Raghib Ismail is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Notre Dame Football Players of All Time
Return specialist and Wide receiver from Elizabeth, New Jersey, United States of America

Age: 46

Teams: Notre Dame Fighting Irish football

More Raghib Ismail 

#139 of 214 The Best Wide Receivers of All Time #33 of 106 The Fastest NFL Players of All Time #117 of 173 The Best Oakland Raiders Of All Time

5
Alan Page is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Notre Dame Football Players of All Time
Defensive tackle and Defensive end from Canton, Ohio, United States of America

Age: 73

Teams: Chicago Bears, Minnesota Vikings

More Alan Page 

#23 of 432 The Greatest Defenders in NFL History #110 of 1,323 The Best Football Players Ever #56 of 144 The Greatest Chicago Bears of All Time

6
Joe Theismann is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Notre Dame Football Players of All Time
Quarterback from New Brunswick, USA, New Jersey

Age: 69

Teams: Notre Dame Fighting Irish football, Washington Redskins, Toronto Argonauts

More Joe Theismann 

#39 of 252 The Best Quarterbacks Of All Time #148 of 322 People Who Should Be in the Pro Football Hall of Famelisted on Athletes You Didn't Know Were Conservative

7
Paul Hornung is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Notre Dame Football Players of All Time

Age: 80

Teams: Notre Dame Fighting Irish football, Green Bay Packers

More Paul Hornung 

#177 of 1,323 The Best Football Players Ever #31 of 206 The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time #24 of 83 The Best Heisman Trophy Winners of All Time

8
Golden Tate is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Notre Dame Football Players of All Time
Wide receiver from Hendersonville, Tennessee

Age: 27

Teams: Seattle Seahawks, Notre Dame Fighting Irish football

More Golden Tate 

#297 of 1,323 The Best Football Players Ever #89 of 214 The Best Wide Receivers of All Time #15 of 119 The Best Detroit Lions of All Time

9
Justin Tuck is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Notre Dame Football Players of All Time
Defensive end from Kellyton, Alabama

Age: 32

Teams: New York Giants

10
Harrison Smith is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Notre Dame Football Players of All Time
Nicolas Pernas added Harrison Smith Safety from Knoxville, Tennessee

Age: 26

Teams: Minnesota Vikings

11
Tyler Eifert is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Notre Dame Football Players of All Time
Tyler Eifert Tight end from Fort Wayne, Indiana

Age: 25

Teams: Cincinnati Bengals

12
Manti Te'o is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Notre Dame Football Players of All Time
Linebacker from Laie, Hawaii

Age: 24

Teams: Notre Dame Fighting Irish football, San Diego Chargers

13
Ricky Watters is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Notre Dame Football Players of All Time
pmath44 added Running back from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, United States of America

Age: 46

Teams: Seattle Seahawks

More Ricky Watters 

#75 of 322 People Who Should Be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame #237 of 1,323 The Best Football Players Ever #51 of 206 The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time

14
Zack Martin is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Notre Dame Football Players of All Time
broof21 added

Age: 25

Teams: Notre Dame Fighting Irish football

15
Chris Zorich is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Notre Dame Football Players of All Time
Defensive tackle and Tackle from Chicago, Illinois

Age: 46

16
Dave Casper is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Notre Dame Football Players of All Time
17
Kyle Rudolph is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Notre Dame Football Players of All Time
Jaxmc51 added Kyle Rudolph Tight end from Cincinnati, Ohio

Age: 29

Teams: Minnesota Vikings

18
Jeff Samardzija is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Notre Dame Football Players of All Time
Pitcher from Merrillville, Ross Township, Indiana

Age: 34

Teams: San Francisco Giants

More Jeff Samardzija 

#245 of 273 The Top Current Baseball Players #97 of 116 The Best Current MLB Pitchers #44 of 58 The Best College Football Wide Receivers of All Time

19
Michael Floyd is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Notre Dame Football Players of All Time
Wide receiver from Saint Paul, Minnesota

Age: 26

Teams: Notre Dame Fighting Irish football, Arizona Cardinals

More Michael Floyd 

#212 of 214 The Best Wide Receivers of All Time #1,063 of 1,323 The Best Football Players Ever #42 of 58 The Best College Football Wide Receivers of All Time

20
George Gipp is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Notre Dame Football Players of All Time
Running back and Halfback from Laurium, Michigan

Age: Dec. at 25 (1895-1920)

Teams: Notre Dame Fighting Irish football

21
Bob Golic is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Notre Dame Football Players of All Time
Defensive tackle and Tackle from Cleveland, Ohio, USA

Age: 58

22
Johnny Lujack is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Notre Dame Football Players of All Time
Quarterback from Connellsville, Pennsylvania

Age: 90

Teams: Chicago Bears

23
Tony Rice is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Notre Dame Football Players of All Time
Quarterback from Greenwood, South Carolina

Age: 51

24
Brady Quinn is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Notre Dame Football Players of All Time
Quarterback from Columbus, Ohio

Age: 34

Teams: Seattle Seahawks, Notre Dame Fighting Irish football, Denver Broncos, St. Louis Rams, Cleveland Browns, + more

More Brady Quinn 

#92 of 119 The Greatest College Football Quarterbacks of All Time #18 of 142 The Biggest First Round NFL Draft Pick Busts #3 of 31 The Best Notre Dame Fighting Irish Quarterbacks of All Time

25
Stephon Tuitt is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Notre Dame Football Players of All Time
Jaxmc51 added

Age: 25

Teams: Notre Dame Fighting Irish football