Our road to Notre Dame’s top player for 2010 continues today continues with the players ranked 10-6.
First off, check out everyone’s rankings over at Inside the Irish and just in case you missed the previous posts, be sure to check out part 1 (25-21), part 2 (20-16), and part 3 (15-11) to see how we’ve got to this point.
10. Ian Williams (NT) – Williams looked his best as a frosh in a 3-4 defense but wasn’t as effective the past two seasons.
9. Dayne Crist (QB) – If Crist ends the season higher up on this list, Notre Dame fans will be very, very happy with year 1 of Brian Kelly.
8. Armando Allen (RB) – He might not have developed into the home threat we all thought he would be, but he’s become a very good all-around back.
7. Darius Fleming (OLB) – Fleming has potential to be a lot higher on this list and should put his impressive sack and tackle for loss totals this year
6. Chris Stewart – (OG) – Stewart is going to be one of the leaders of the team this season and has come a long way during his career.
Ian Williams showed up on a few lists already, but if he’s isn’t one of Notre Dame’s top 10 players this year the defense is in serious trouble. Williams is going to have to be a monster in the middle of the defensive line if Notre Dame hopes to improve on last year’s dreadful rush defense. He was at his best in 2007 as the backup nose tackle to Pat Kuntz, but hasn’t been nearly as effective the past two seasons in the 4-3 defense. Expect big things from the big man in the middle of the Irish defense this year.
Hmmm, it’s weird how many times I’ve written that a player was “at his best in 2007 in the 3-4 defense”. It’s almost as if the personnel on campus the last two seasons was better suited for the 3-4, but were playing out of position in a forced scheme. Weird, huh?
Anyway, next up is starting quarterback Dayne Crist at #9. It’s tough to project Crist since he has never started a game and is coming off of a major injury, but Notre Dame really needs Crist to play this well in order to have a good season. Crist was ranked outside of the top 10 on half of the ballots already and was ranked as low as 23rd so it shows you just how varied opinions are of him so far. He already surprised people by participating in spring practice just six months after his injury. Hopefully he surprises us all again and comes out of the gates slinging the ball all over the field.
Armando Allen came to Notre Dame with the reputation of a game-breaking, home run threat but after three seasons, his career long run sits at just 26 yards. Robert Hughes had multiple runs longer than that as a true freshman in 2007 and he was considered the big, bruising back. Allen’s been this close to breaking huge runs on many occasions, but always seems to get tripped up just as he’s about to enter the clear. Still, Allen has become the best all around back on the Notre Dame roster. He can run, he can catch, and he can even throw a little bit out of the wild cat. Allen should hold off the younger backs in his final season in South Bend and should rip off at least one 30 yard run in the process.
When ESPN released their top 5 Notre Dame players, they had Darius Fleming ranked fourth. At the time I said I thought that was a little high and I still think that way. Fleming’s got a world of talent and should thrive as an outside linebacker in the 3-4 defense, but he’s had some injuries to work through over the years and to this point he’s still shown more potential than production – at least consistent production anyway. Fleming led the Irish in tackles for loss last season, but wasn’t a consistent force on defense. He’ll need to be one this year for the defense to improve.
Just outside the top 5 comes fifth year senior Chris Stewart. It’s been a long strange road for Stewart at Notre Dame involving a couple position switches and a near transfer. After all of that Stewart will end his career as a three year starter and the leader of the offensive line. Brian Kelly praised Stewart for his leadership during the off-season conditioning and as a fifth year senior Stewart could be in line to be a captain this year.
Now that we’re getting to the top of the rankings everyone’s lists are getting a little more similar. Chris Stewart was listed on four out of six ballots in this round of the rankings. The massive offensive tackle was already listed on a 5th ballot and will presumably be listed on the sixth ballot when the top 5 are released Monday. Armando Allen was on five of the ballots in this group which shows that most ND bloggers perceive Allen a top 10 player on the team, but not quite in the top 5.
Manti Te’o made his first appearance in the rankings at #7 from Her Loyal Sons. Te’o hasn’t been listed on any other ballots thus far which shows most in the ND blogosphere consider the talented sophomore a top 5 player for the Irish in 2010.
As of now, it likes only two players on the Irish roster for 2010 are considered consensus top 5 players – Kyle Rudolph and Michael Floyd. Neither have appeared on any of the rankings yet, but both will almost certainly be listed on everyone’s top 5 come Monday. From glancing at everyone’s rankings so far it looks like Darius Fleming, Trevor Robinson, Dayne Crist, and Armando Allen will be represented in the top 5’s on Monday as well.
As for my rankings, the final five I have are (in alphabetical order) Michael Floyd, Ethan Johnson, Trevor Robinson, Kyle Rudolph, and Manti Te’o. The top 5’s for all of the ND bloggers will appear on Inside the Irish Monday and time permitting, I’ll have a post for each of my top 5 for Monday morning.
In the meantime, feel free to give some feedback in the comments. I’d love to hear what everyone thinks of these rankings thus far.