Ranking Irish – The Top 5

The Notre Dame blogger player rankings for 25 conclude today with the top 5.

Junior tight end Kyle Rudolph and sophomore linebacker Manti Te'o take up the top two spots in our 2010 Player Rankings. (Photo - Icon SMI)

Before we started, let’s get this out of the way. The previous sets of rankings can be found here –  part 1 (25-21), part 2 (20-16)part 3 (15-11), part 4 (10-6).

Now without further ado, here is my 5.  Everyone’s top 5 can be found over on Inside the Irish.

5. Ethan Johnson – Johnson looked over-matched last year as a DT. An off-season with Paul Longo and the 3-4 defense should do him wonders.
4. Trevor Robinson – Stewart might be the leader of the OL, but Robinson could be the best OL to come out of Notre Dame since Jeff Faine.
3. Michael Floyd – Floyd is a rare talent, but injury issues his first two years bump him down the list a little.
2. Manti Te’o – Te’o will be playing the role of Ray Lewis in Notre Dame’s 3-4 defense. It’s been a while since ND’s had a LB of Te’o skill.
1. Kyle Rudolph – Floyd and Te’o might get more publicity, but Rudolph might be the best player at his position in the country.

Coming in at number 5 is former 5-star recruit Ethan Johnson.  Johnson came to Notre Dame with some lofty expectations, but to this point he hasn’t lived up to the hype.  Part of the reason for that comes from playing out of position as defensive tackle in the 4-3 defense last year.  He was recruited to play defensive end in a 3-4 defense and that is just what he’ll be doing in 2010.  Johnson has elite talent and should be ready to shine this year.

We’ll switch over to the offensive side of the line of scrimmage for #4 – junior Trevor Robinson.  It didn’t take Robinson long to wrestle a starting job away as a true freshman in 2008 and he hasn’t looked back since.  Chris Stewart might be the leader of the offensive line, but Robinson is the most talented   He’s got the nasty streak you look for in a lineman and has the versatility to play tackle or guard.  He saw some time at right tackle during the spring and he could end staying there once training camp starts after playing the last two seasons at guard.

The third spot goes to the big man who sports the same jersey number, Michael Floyd.  It might surprise some that Floyd isn’t taking up the number 1 spot in these rankings, but injury concerns knocked Floyd down a few spots.  Even with the injuries over the past two seasons, Floyd has established himself as one of the top wide receivers in the country and could be a first round pick in either 2011 or 2012 depending on how well he plays this season.  He is an elite talent, but he’s also missed parts of both of his first two seasons.

Manti Te’o had an inconsistent freshman season in 2009 and it surprised many when Brian Kelly said Te’o needed to get a lot better, but his talent is undeniable and he has a chance to be the type of difference making linebacker Notre Dame has largely lacked for the last 20 years or so.   Even Notre Dame has had strong linebackers in recent years, they’ve tended to be more high motor guys who over achieved – players like Bobbie Howard, Brandon Hoyte, Corey Mays, and Courtney Watson.  All were standout linebackers for the Irish, but none possessed the raw tools Te’o brings to the table.

And that brings us to the top spot.  Junior tight end Kyle Rudolph has the chance to be the best player at his position in the country this year.  He’s improved each year as a blocker and as a receiver he was already one of the nation’s best coming into the season.  With his size and speed he is a matchup problem for any linebacker that tries to cover him, but for some reason he wasn’t featured in last year’s offense as much as most expected – even after the injury to Michael Floyd.   Rudolph hasn’t recorded a 100 yard receiving game yet, but that should change early on in 2010.

There weren’t too many surprises in the top 5 other than Pat ranking Nick Tausch #3.  I think the sophomore kicker is going to be a good one too, but the third best player on the team?  Other than that, everyone had Rudolph and Floyd in the top 5’s with Floyd getting the slight edge as the overall player based on everyone’s rankings.

Update: Her Loyal Sons posted some comments on their rankings well.

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    1. I hope so!! The kid has a lot of talent and has a ton of growth left in him. This kid could end up 6’6″ 280 ibs. Not only does he have the size but his speed would make him a pass rushing threat every time a QB drops back.

      We could definatley use a Defensive End with that kind of size and speed.

      If he’s finding that there are too many distractions being so close to home I applaud him for having the wisdom at such a young age to remove himself from them.

      I think we should welcome him with open arms and show him that distractions in South Bend a far and few in between.

      I’m guessing he’ll end up at somewhere in S.E.C. though. Too bad!

      1. Should have researched this before my post.

        Chris Martin will be playing for the Florida Gators after sitting out this coming season.

        I really wish we could have grabbed him and Anthony Barr…

      2. This kid is a head case. How many high schools did he go to? And he’s already enrolled at two universities!!! He’ll never make it through his freshman year. His gift will be wasted, and his potential as a student athlete will never be more than a what if. Give me good solid kids like Spond and Motta. Meyer can have all the high paid players down there….

        How much do you think Meyer offered Martin to leave Cal??

  1. So, Something I don’t think anyone’s mentioned that I think is well worth mentioning is USC deciding to give back Reggie Bush’s Heisman.

    We all know I hate USC, and relish their name being dragged through the mud, but I gotta admit, I was taken aback by this news. Hats off to them for doing the right thing. This is why I adamantly believe that now more than ever ND needs to be there for USC. I hate them, but deep down there is some serious respect for a worthy adversary. And I definitely respect an institution willing to admit they were wrong and move forward.

    1. Bill,

      ND football without USC would certainly leave a gaping hole in our schedule and our identity.
      But They have a ways to go when it comes to earning my respect.
      After all, It only took them four and a half years to even admit that they did anything wrong. They stonewalled the NCAA at every turn, and ruined the entire 2005 season for everyone.
      (The year without a national champion)
      The only reason that they have stepped up to the plate now, is in an attempt to reduce their penilties through the appeals process and try to save their own skin.
      Through all of this, ND will always take the high road. But God forbit if the shoe was on the other foot and it was our program under the gun, I highly doubt that anyone over there would give a rats a$$ about ND.

    1. Irish fan,

      I am not a fan of Chris Martin. He can go somewhere else, he was the first recruit to leave and constantly during his recruitment there were rumors he didn’t want to go to ND. Sorry just not a fan.

      1. He’s signing with Florida. He heard about those defensive linemen getting paid big money by the agents down there and decided to jump on that bandwagon!!!

  2. Bill,

    Thanks! Got too caught up in the World Cup, I guess. Now, you couldn’t be more spot on with your remarks if you were a prophet of some kind. Totally agree. The way I see it, Bill, an ND homer as color commentator (God, Joe Theismann would be awesome!) would make for great TV. Think about it. If ND is winning, the base audience will be more pumped up by having one of ours cheerleading from the booth. For those who hate ND, a homer in the booth will drive them insane and give them more reason to hope ND falls. Either way, it’s great for NBC since both ND lovers and ND haters will have passionate opinions on the new color voice of ND football.

  3. Shaz,

    Great minds must truly think alike. I see this Haden (not Hayden, my bad) development in exactly the same terms. The tide has turned indeed, as you aptly say. I also agree that we need someone who knows ND football and ND traditions. I for one wouldn’t mind an ND homer. There, I said it. Why not? Those of us who love ND football will love having a Mike Golic or Joe Theismann do the color for our games. Those who hate ND will continue to hate the team no matter what. Will they hate ND any less or any more regardless of who calls our games? I don’t think so.

    1. SFR,

      first, I haven’t seen you on the boards in a while, great to see you again.

      second, if it’s OK for NBC to have someone so obviously biased against ND for so long, I couldn’t see any reason in the world for why a homer would be so bad. At the very least the vast majority of people watching every week (ND fans) would be satisfied. And as for everyone else, $#@%-em. It’s our network contract. If they don’t like it they don’t have to watch it.

  4. Pat Hayden’s accepting the USC AD job! Thank God!!! He’ll no longer be “secretly” rooting against ND this fall or will be “jinxing” us!!!

    1. SFR,


      I don’t know how you had an ex-USC guy calling ND games.
      Him and Hammonds made listening to ND on NBC about as exciting as buying work shoes.
      I hope they (NBC) comes up with someone who actually knows ND and it’s traditions.
      I’m starting to get the feeling that the tide has turned.
      New season, new coaches, new QB, new bradcasting crew, & a new attitude!
      GO IRISH !
      Bury the Boilermakers!

  5. Shazamrock,

    I agree with your analysis on the defense. CW should have never switched to a 4-3 last year, he didn’t have the personnell and didn’t have time to explain the defense. You have system, you recruit players to play in that system and you don’t change the system. The players grow up in the system and understand the system. Also, CW’s strength and conditioning program was lacking. As a head coach CW didn’t evaluate his assistant coaches properly and didn’t have a vision for this team other than offense. That has changed, ND has a coach that is able to evaluate all aspects of his team.

  6. Shazamrock
    I totally agree with you about the conditioning aspect.That has to go against the strength and conditioning coach, it is his responsibility to get these players ready for the season. On defense I think they made some things more complex than they have to be.I was a college linebacker and I found out that some of the terminology gets complicated but a good coach breaks it down for the kids to understand. And also there was a lack of basic fundementals last year with tackling and being out of position. I don’t know much about the d coordinator this year but I hope they get to the basics of tackiling and making sure everyone knows there job on every play. That’s how you play good defense all 11 guys just doing there job and making sound tackling if everybody does that it doesn’t matter what scheme you have. GO IRISH!!

  7. I think Ethan can be a beast now that he should be used correctly.

    Spicey, were the d-lines players bad, were they poorly coached or was it the wrong scheme for the players skill sets? I would argue it was a combination of the 3 with bad play being the lowest attribute of the poor play.

    I look for a dramatic improvement this year going back to the 3-4, with a better defensive scheme, better coaching and a significant upgrade in strength and conditioning.

  8. I know the talent that Ethan Johnson has. Can any of us really predict how good Ethan Johnson or anyone on that defensive line will be? All were bad last year, so bad that it was painful to watch. Notre Dame missed out on a shot to be one of the top teams in the country last year because of the dreadful defensive line.

    1. Ethan Johnson was offered scholarships from just about every top football program in the country.
      These people know talent when they see it.
      Making a prediction on this years defense isn’t all that hard.
      Last year they ranked 89th out of 119.
      I know this defense has talent. I know it wasn’t all on the players. The coaching, or lack of, was a major contributer to a poor showing.
      I don’t see it as going out on a limb, to predict that this year’s defense will be much better. I mean, really, could they do any worst?
      No, this coaching staff will get much more from these guy’s than the last administration did, that’s for sure.
      I think that they will finish somewhere in the top 30 in team defense this year.
      (I’d go higher if we had a true defensive tackle)

      1. Shazamrock,

        I agree with your analysis. There is a lot of talent on that defense and if it is the right scheme and the players no what they are suppose to do it can be a lot better. I saw to many players last year hesitating because they didn’t know their assignnments. I don’t think we will see that this year. No, 3rd down and long conversions.

      2. Jack,
        Harrison Smith looked down right lost at times.
        Brian Smith was playing out of posisition as well.
        There was no pass rush to speak of (As you pointed out, too many 3rd and long conversions)
        Their tackling tecnique was poor (as individuals and as a team)so they gave up too many rushing yards.
        With that, our secondary was hung out to dry.
        And late in games, our D ran out of gas.
        All of these issues will be addressed by the new staff.
        But the one that bothered me most was our poor conditioning.
        Every now and then, You’re going to face teams that might be bigger, or faster, or have over-all better talent and experience.
        But you should NEVER, and I mean NEVER, lose because a team (like Navy) just out works you on your own home field!
        That crap has to stop now!

  9. Frankie,

    Excellent rankings, Rudolph was my favorite #1 also. Hopefully, all this talent will jell at the right time this year!


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