#14 Frank Carideo: Notre Dame Football’s Top 25 Players

Photo provided by Fighting Irish Media
Photo provided by Fighting Irish Media

#14 Frank Carideo, quarterback 1928-1930

A native of Mount Vernon, New York; Frank Carideo was compact at 5’7” 175 pounds. While many of Notre Dame’s early legends were multi-sport athletes, Carideo was nearly monomaniacal about football. As a prep star, he studied coffin corner punting under New York City Attorney and Princeton grad Leroy Mills.

Rock put Carideo on the field for the first time in 1928. And Carideo played against Army in the “win one for the Gipper” classic.

A One Man Band on Special Teams

While we list Carideo as a quarterback, he was probably the most skilled and effective punter EVER at Notre Dame, and belongs in the conversation as a returner with Gipp, Brown, Lattner and Ismail.

He could have conducted a special teams meeting by himself.

A Successful Career as a Starter

Carideo started every game in 1929 and 1930.

Notre Dame won every game in 1929 and 1930.

Notre Dame was National Champion in both 1929 and 1930.

Strength of Schedule

Before the phrase had been coined, Notre Dame had “Strength of Schedule,” spurred on the intransigence of Fielding “Hurry Up” Yost who led a virtual boycott of Notre Dame by the Big Ten’s sire, the then Western Conference. Notre Dame regularly played the best of the East, Army, and the best of the West, USC, and all the non-cowards (Raise your hand, Yost!) in between.

In 1929, the Irish played Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, Georgia Tech in Atlanta, USC in Soldier Field, and Army in New York. Notre Dame Stadium was being built, so Carideo led his team to an unbeaten season with EVERY GAME on the road or in a neutral site. So much for ”scheduling” a national championship!

In 1930 Notre Dame Stadium opened but the Irish still played a national schedule, with Pitt in Pittsburgh, Penn in Philly , Army at Soldier Field and USC in Los Angeles.

Frank Carideo Made Big Plays in Big Games

In ’29 Carideo kept making big plays. He completed a 10 yard TD pass to Jack Elder against Navy, scored touchdowns on a 75 yard punt return against Georgia Tech and an 85 yard runback of an intercepted pass against Northwestern. His PAT provided the 13-12 victory over USC before 112,000 at Soldier Field. In the finale against Army, Notre Dame’s only score was a 96 yard Jack Elder interception return, but Carideo sealed the deal in a possession game, punting 11 times, including six inside the three yard line to preserve a 7-0 win and the perfect record. The game was in New York, not far from where he had studied coffin corner punting under Leroy Mills.

In 1930 Carideo kept demonstrating his transcendent versatility. He both returned a punt for 70 yards and completed a 25 yard pass to set up two touchdowns against Southwest power SMU. He scored a rushing TD against Penn and kicked the extra point against Army in a classic 7-6 win on icy Soldier Field before 110,000.

Northwestern of the Western conference was avoiding Yost’s boycott and was entertaining the Irish in Evanston as Western Conference champions. Carideo punted four times on first down, with each landing inside the one yard line. His precision mortars to the coffin corner broke the Wildcats’ will. Carideo’s 28 yard punt return set up the first Irish touchdown paving the way for a 14-0 win over the previously unbeaten Wildcats and the National Championship.

Two years. All wins. No losses. Two National Championships.

Frank Carideo was easily the Player of the Year in College Football in 1930, his second as a unanimous All-American QB. He was named player of the year by HAF. He did not win the Heisman Trophy because there was not yet a Heisman Trophy.

Knute Rockne proclaimed that Carideo was the greatest quarterback in college football. EVER!

Scribe John Kieran offered “Except for calling signals, ball handling, faking, passing, running, kicking, tackling and blocking this Carideo isn’t much help to Rockne’s football team.”

Carideo also was the last quarterback to ever lead a team onto the field of Honor for Notre Dame and Knute Rockne. He quarterbacked the Irish to a 27-0 rout of Howard Jones’ Trojans in Los Angeles on December 6, 1930.

Rock died in the plane crash on March 31, 1931.

#14) Frank Carideo, QB, 1928-1930
#15) Creighton Miller, Halfback 1941-1943
#16) Jaylon Smith, LB 2013-2015
#17) Raghib “Rocket” Ismail, ALL PURPOSE, 1988-1990
#18) Tom Clements, Quarterback, 1972-1974
#19) Chris Zorich, Nose Tackle, 1988-1990
#20) Aaron Taylor, Guard/Tackle, 1990-1993
#21) Nick Buoniconti, Linebacker/Guard, 1958-1961
#22) Ken MacAfee, Tight End, 1974-1977
#23) Bill “Moose” Fischer, Left Guard, 1945-1948
#24) Todd Lyght, Cornerback, 1987-1990
#25) Louis “Red” Salmon, Fullback, 1900-1903


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One Comment

  1. I am proud to say My husband (died from Agent Orange)and Frank Carideo were first cousins. My husband was so proud to be a graduated of Notre Dame. I remember going to visit and attending many games.

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