Jan 1, 2008

All-Davieham Team... Part 2 Defense

Now it's time for the other side of the ball. I received some pretty passionate responses to my offensive selections. Remember, I am basing these choices on production and not on a man-crush. Well, most of them anyways. Again, the criteria was for the players to play in at least 2 years of this God-awful era.

Defensive Ends: Grant Irons & Justin Tuck. Grant Irons came to ND after a heated recruiting battle with Michigan. Grants older brother played for the Skunkbears, but Grant showed his superior intelligence for choosing ND. Irons was plagued by injuries during his 5 years at ND, but was quite a force on the field. Grant was switched from OLB to DE and was a 4 year starter at ND. Justin Tuck was one of the best (if not THE best) pass rushing DE in Irish History. Justin could have been legendary. Tuck did not see the field his freshman year and was an outside linebacker. His sophomore year Tuck moved to DE and was a pass rushing specialist. He finished that year with 10 TFL and 5 sacks. His breakout year was his junior year at ND. He set the single season sack record with 13.5 sacks and also left as the career leader as well and dominated the game at times. After "The Molder of Men" was sacked himself, Tuck left ND for the NFL draft despite having 2 years of eligibility left. Tuck was truly one of the best ever and may not be remembered as well, due to his short tenure at ND.

Defensive Tackle: Anthony Weaver & Lance Legree. Notre Dame was very consistent during this era with the lack of TRUE playmaking defensive tackles. To this day, the Irish have had problems with acquiring those important hogs for the d-line. Of all of those guys that fit the mold of play making DT it would have to Weaver. Anthony was a 4 year starter at ND and was a dominant run stopper as well as a very good pass rusher. He was moved around a lot during his time at ND from DT to DE, but one thing remained: Weaver stayed on the field and produced. Lance Legree became a very good DT for the Irish during his stay at ND. Lance was moved around as well, but settled in at DT and was a force his 5th year with 50 tackles.

Outside Linebacker: Kory Minor & Rocky Boiman. Kory Minor came to ND as part of a number 1 recruiting class. Minor was a 4 year starter at ND and was a very fearsome pass rusher. He is 2nd all-time in sacks at ND and developed into a fan favorite during his time there as well. Speaking of fan favorites, Rocky Boiman made the list as well. Rocky will probably be remembered most for his love of rocking out to Metallica before a game and his fiery red hair. Boiman was a very energetic player and seemed to be around the ball a lot.

Middle Linbacker: Jimmy Friday & Courtney Watson. Jimmy Friday was a staple of the Irish defense for 2 years at ND. He led the team in tackles his junior year with 109 and was 2nd his senior year with 79. Not as well known as other Irish players, Friday was very physical and was very intimidating as a run stopper. Courtney Watson developed into a modern day Irish legend. After coming to ND to be a RB, Watson quickly found himself on the other side of the ball. Once there, Watson found his home and was a starter for 3 years. In his final 2, he led the team in tackles and was the first Irish player to do so in two consecutive years since Irish Great Demetrius DuBose (R.I.P.). Watson was undersized, but his speed allowed him to make contact quickly and once there, Courtney took his man down. Perhaps his greatest game was during an Irish loss. In 2001 ND played Nebraska. Watson was all over the field and recorded a career high, 18 tackles. Watson truly played bigger than his physical stature would have you believe.

Cornerback: Vontez Duff & Shane Walton. These two players were teammates and really helped and relied on one another to shine and be as productive as possible. Duff was a 3 year starter at cornerback for the Irish. During a time in ND history of being scorched through the air, Duff was an exciting coverman. Duff was a very quick player with a knack to find the ball in the air. Anytime Vontez picked one off, you had to hold your breath. True Story: I was at the Purdue game in 2002. Remember that year, the Irish did not score during their first 2 games (Maryland & Purdue). The Irish were ties and I was saying to my buddy, "Duff needs a pick 6 right now for us to win." Tada... Duff came through. Walton IS a legend at ND. One of the best finds of the Davie era, Shane was a soccer player for ND. Usually, when a soccer player comes over to play football it is because they need a kicker. Not so with Shane. Davie saw his quick feet and the rest is history. Walton went on to become an All-American and was a lockdown corner. Walton always found himself in good situations and was rewarded for those with being able to make big play after big play. My favorite was the INT that sealed the victory versus Michigan in 2002.

Safety: Glenn Earl & Gerome Sapp. Another teammate tandem and on top of that, they were teammates with Duff and Walton. It says a lot about the secondary that was there and about the lack of depth during the Davieham era. Sapp was a ball hawking safety who just made plays. He was in on a lot of tackles and helped keep the deep zone well covered. Ironically, he may be better remembered for his fumble recoveries than his INTs. Glenn Earl was a very physical player for the Irish. Earl was only 6'1" 205 pounds, but played much bigger. He was 2nd in tackles for the team his junior year and delivered big hit after big hit. One of Glenn's best moments came during his sophomore year against Air Force. Earl blocked a 28 yard field goal as time expired to send the game into overtime. (ND wound up with the victory).
Part 3 will be available soon and will cover Special Teams and those who missed the cut.

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