#19 Chris Zorich: Notre Dame Football’s Top 25 Players

#19 Chris Zorich, Nose Tackle, 1988-1990

More Notre Dame fans have driven past Chris Zorich’s High School than that of any other member of the top 25. Zorich played high school football at Chicago Vocational, which abutted the highway as you exited the Dan Ryan, right there where you hit the brakes to get to the toll gate that sent you on to Indiana. Toughness was valued at CVS, as Dick Butkus had prowled those corridors before taking his talents to Champaign-Urbana to star for the Illini.

Chris Zorich was not a mega-recruit and was a linebacker-defensive lineman “’tweener.” Barry Alvarez liked what Vinny Cerrato was saying about Zorich, what he saw on the field, the fire and rage that burned within Zorich.

As soon as he arrived in South Bend he was converted from linebacker to Defensive Lineman and assigned to the weight room. He was a firebreather at practice, even as a redshirt, and was frequently told to leave the practice field. The concept of “slowing down” or “taking it easy” were alien to Zorich. Others noticed and by his senior year he had been christened by Sports Illustrated as the meanest player in College Football.

In his first game, he had one and a half sacks and ten tackles against Michigan. Zorich finished the year third on the team in tackles, a high ranking for a nose tackle. Notre Dame went undefeated and won the 1988 National Championship. As nose tackle, Zorich was the keystone for a defense that allowed only 156 points to the likes of Michigan, Pitt, Miami, USC and West Virginia.

Zorich never slowed down.

In the ’89 opener in Ann Arbor, Bo Schembechler was licking his Maize and Blue chops to unleash elephant backs Jarrod Bunch and Leroy Hoard to run behind a massive offensive line to smash the Irish and break their will. Chris Zorich was having none of that, and Michigan stayed in the game only because they went to back up QB Elvis Grbac and his arm was able to move and score when Bo’s “ground and pound” could not.   You could go over Zorich, never through him.

Chris Zorich remains the Gold-and Blue- standard for intensity and toughness on the defensive line.

Zorich was a unanimous All American in both ’89 and ‘90 was UPI Defensive player of the year in ’89. He won the Lombardi award in 1990.

#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. Small for a dt made up for it with by having a huge heart and being a mean sob super quick of the snap

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