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In the next week or so, I'll be posting on the main board an article on some of the great sleeper prospects in Notre Dame history, the unheralded two- or three-star players, or even walk-ons, who came out of nowhere to have superb careers with the Irish.
Who were your favorites, or the underdogs who made good?
I gotta put Stan Smagala high on the list... no clue how many stars he had(did they even HAVE stars in 1986?), but I do remember he was a part of the package deal that got John Foley to town. Strange how that turned out.
He has to be mentioned. Soccer player to walk on to All American to NFL Draft pick. Doesn't get much better than that.
Smagala actually was part of five St. Laurence (Burbank, Ill.) players who came to Notre Dame in Lou Holtz's first season in 1986. The other were all linemen: Paul Glonek, Jeff Pearson, Mike Harazin and Tim Grunhard.
Glonek never did get admitted, Pearson transferred to Michigan State after his sophomore year in 1987, Harazin had a health issue — and the least touted "throw-in" was Grunhard, who became a superb leader. Smagala was recruited mainly by MAC schools, and was offered by Gerry Faust based on how he saw him run in summer camp. When Lou Holtz came aboard, he tried to talk Smagala out of enrolling, but his father wouldn't hear of it.
John Foley was in the St. Rita trio that year with John Zaleski (left school) and Jason Cegielski (transferred to Purdue).
My choice is clearly..... Chris Zorich.
Now THAT Lou, is an explanation of who was from where and how it went down. Very nice.
Even though my story had some factual flaws, sounds like even Lou had him with just a couple of stars. And he could have even gotten a couple years out of his DAD who I seem to remember, at 42 or 43, played college ball somewhere(obviously not big time Divvy 1). RB no less. Am I right Lou?
In 2003, Notre Dame got a 3-star WR. He was tall and lanky, but lacked the great speed to ever be great. His name was Jeff Samardzija. So much for that. Haha.
Gringo Mafia Director of Recruiting Analysis // POTW --> 5-16-11 / 5-30-11 / 3-5-12 / 12-30-12 / 2-24-13 / 9-1-13 / 9-22-13
Not surprisingly, I'm going with Zorich, too. Incredibly tough upbringing, had to work his tail off academically to qualify for ND, starts at linebacker (I'm pretty sure), then moves to the defensive line and becomes an All-American. Just a remarkable, "only in America," or at Notre Dame, story.
In the late 60's, Mike Oriard was a walk-on who wound up starting at center, snapping the ball to Hanratty and Theisman and going on to play four years with the Kansas City Chiefs. He went on to get his Ph.D. in English from Stanford and teaches literature at Oregon St.
I may not be pretty, but I'm fast.....
POTW 1/31/11 - 2/6/11
Yes, that is correct. People magazine did a feature on him, and I followed up with an extensive one on Stan Sr. in the summer of '87. Went back to school and decided to play football along the way.
Funny thing, on the first day of practice, Stan Jr. was trying to impress Holtz and show that he was worthy of a scholarship. Instead, he forgot his asthma medication and had to be taken off the field. He said he could steal see Holtz shaking his head when the medical staff carried him off.
This post was edited by Lou Somogyi 2 years ago
Frank Stams - he came out of nowhere and had a huge impact in NDs big games and eventual NC in 1988.
Justin Tuck, Walton, and "Shark"
Shane Walton and Mike Anello
Welcome aboard. I do believe Anthony Johnson was rated pretty highly coming out of high school though
I'm not sure what he was rated or if he was a sleeper but I thought Derrick Mayes was my pick for a couple of reasons, 1. He held records at Notre Dame, 2. He had somewhat of a pro career, and 3. He was a home state kid from Indy
MLWTI 12-2, Gringo Mafia VP of Irish Fandom
POTW Feb. 27 - Mar. 5 2012
3.Shane Walton ( walk on if I recall correctly )
You are correct about Stams coming out of nowhere, but when he signed in 1984 he was an elite prospect from Ohio on both sides of the ball.
He started at fullback in his sophomore year (1985), the last under Gerry Faust, missed Holtz's first season in 1986 with injuries that got him his medical red-shirt in 1988, was a back-up in 1987 when he moved to defense, and then exploded on to the scene for the national champs his fifth season.
Zorich, Walton, samardja.
Two time Poster of The Week, 2011 and 2013.
I'm going to throw out some names that noone has mentioned and I have no idea whether or not they could be considered sleepers (I was too young to know if they were big-time HS players). Lou you can correct me if they were heavily recruited. Again, I'm just throwing names out there.
Pinkett, Golic and Casper were highly recruited prospects.
Bleier, I'm not as sure, mainly because in the 1960s there was really less recruiting information.
Moriarty transferred to Notre Dame when he was 22 years old, coming from Santa Barbara Community College in 1980. His brother, Kerry, played in the 1970s at Notre Dame as a backup QB, and his grandfather also attended the school. Sometime in his high school years he was involved in a vehicular accident in which he was hurt pretty badly and, if I recall correctly, lost some of his hearing. But after rehabbing for a while and spending a year in JC, he went to the JC and then transferred to ND.
He was maybe the strongest football player ever at a time when weight training wasn't as year round. He was in the 460-480 bench press range, which was amazing back then, and rivaled only by Tom Thayer. He scored the first TD of the Faust era in 1981 on a TD pass from his roommate, Blair Kiel (Gunner's uncle). The next year he started off like gangbusters at fullback, rushing for 116 yards in the nationally televised win over Michigan in the first ND home night game, and then had 106 the next week in a victory over Purdue.
For whatever reason, his work load was scaled back thereafter. He was drafted in the fifth round by Houston and played nine years in the NFL, 1983-86 without Houston Oilers and 1986-91 with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Rocky Bleier or Knute Rockne. the ROCK will always be # 1
Shark, got to meet him @ a Royals game when the Cubbies were in town and we talked just for a few minutes about football, awesome guy. His autograph is now in the ND shrine in my basement
Don't forget Mike became team captain.
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