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Unique Irish Achievements

In the next week, we will be putting the finishing touches on our 160-page Football Preview that will be published later this month. Among the features is a 12-page spread commemorating the 125th year of Notre Dame’s football program, known as The Quasqicentennial.

Paul Hornung led the 1956 Irish in seven different categories, and was second in tackles and interceptions.

We included the 50 most timeless/iconic moments or plays in those 125 years, a 25-man Dream Team (offensive, defense, punter, kicker and utility), and compiled many other lists of note. One of them was 10 Unique Achievements. Here’s a sample:

1. Angelo Bertelli (1943-46) — How many people in history won the Heisman Trophy, had to leave the team in mid-season of a national title run to go to Officers Training, fought in Iwo Jima, earned the Bronze Star and Purple Heart, and played in the NFL? Bertelli did it all in this four-year period.

2. Leon Hart (1946-49) — There have been hundreds of thousands of college football players. However, only Hart 1) never lost a game in four seasons, 2) won the Heisman Trophy and 3) was the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft after his senior year. He did this triple play while majoring in engineering.

3. Elmer Angsman (1945, Navy) — The fullback and future member of The Dream Backfield for the Chicago Cardinals lost 11 teeth early in the first quarter when he took an elbow to the mouth — but still played 54 of the possible 60 minutes. No. 2 Notre Dame and No. 3 Navy played to a 6-6 tie.

4. Paul Hornung (1956) — Everyone knows he’s the lone Heisman Trophy winner ever to play on a losing team (2-8). However, will anyone else in history lead their team in seven different categories in one season, plus finish second in tackles and interceptions?

5. John Petitbon (1951, Detroit) — In the first quarter of Notre Dame’s first night game, halfback John Petitbon returned the opening kickoff for an 85-yard score, took a reverse on a punt for a 73-yard tally and swept 39 yards in the 40-6 victory. Three scores, three different ways in one quarter.

6. Jarious Jackson (1999, Oklahoma) — With 276 yards passing and 107 rushing, Jackson rallied the Irish to a 34-30 victory over the Sooners and became the first (and still lone) quarterback at Notre Dame to achieve the 200 passing, 100 rushing combination in a game.

7. Browner Brothers Combo (1976, South Carolina) — In a 13-6 Irish road victory, freshman fullback Willard scored the game’s lone touchdown on a four-yard catch, junior defensive end Ross was named National Lineman of The Week for his performance, and sophomore safety Jim made a game-saving interception at the Irish 15 with 3:23 left.

8. Allen Rossum (1995-97) — The former speedster at cornerback holds the NCAA record for most career touchdowns on runbacks with nine — three punts, three kickoffs and three interceptions (a minimum of one has to be scored in all three to qualify).

9. Chuck Sweeney (1937) — The All-America end led three victories in five weeks by 1) tackling the Navy punter in the end zone with two minutes left for a 9-7 win, 2) blocking a PAT in a 7-6 upset of No. 4 Minnesota and 3) blocking a Northwestern punt that he recovered in the end zone for a 7-0 win. Talk about special (teams) deliveries.

10. Ara Parseghian (1959-62) —This is a positive negative in that he is the only coach ever to go unbeaten in all four tries versus Notre Dame, achieving it at Northwestern. That played a huge role in his 1964 hiring.

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