Building Blocks

Notre Dame improved greatly in 2010 due largely to the contributions of its 15-man junior class.'s 23rd-ranked recruiting class of 2009 concludes its third season this fall.

The class's ranks have thinned from 18 to 15 following three transfers. Below is a look at how the remaining members have fared to date, en route to a 14-11 record entering 2011.

The group has an impressive list of 5th-year candidates for the 2013 season among its ranks, headlined by left tackle Zack Martin, tight end Tyler Eifert, running back Cierre Wood, and inside linebacker Carlo Calabrese.

Class Superlatives

The recruiting class of '09 has lost just once to a team that finished below .500 for the season: rival Michigan in September '09. From the class, only Nick Tausch (K), Theo Riddick (KR), Zeke Motta (coverage teams), Manti Te'o (backup linebacker), and Jordan Cowart (Long-snapper) participated in that defeat.

  • Record at home: 8-6
  • Record on the road: 3-5 (including an East Rutherford loss to Navy)
  • Neutral record (regular season): 3-0
  • Bowl record: 2-0
  • Longest Winning Streak: Four games (current). Utah, Army (N), at USC, Miami (Bowl)
  • Longest Losing Streak: Four games to conclude 2009
  • Longest home winning streak: Three games in 2009 (Nevada, Michigan State, Washington)
  • Longest road winning streak: N/A (or 1 on three occasions)
  • Record vs. Top 25 opponents: 1-3 (Defeated #14 Utah last fall; lost to USC and at Pittsburgh '09, and at home vs. Stanford last fall.)
  • Record vs. teams that finished with a winning record: 10-10
  • Record vs. teams that finished with a losing record: 3-1 (also defeated 6-6 Western Michigan in '10)
  • September Record: 4-4
  • October Record: 6-3
  • November Record: 3-4
  • December Record: 1-0
  • Record prior to Bye Week: 1-1
  • Record following Bye Week: 2-0
  • Record in prime time: 3-4

Class of 2009 Individual Leaders (through 25 games):

Five key members of the class made their initial impact last fall after being withheld from action as true freshmen in 2009: Carlo Calabrese, Tyler Eifert, Zack Martin, Chris Watt, and Cierre Wood. Dan Fox joined the quintet as a special teams regular and mid-season scrimmage competitor.

Six others: Manti Te'o, Theo Riddick, Zeke Motta, Ben Turk, Nick Tausch, and Jordan Cowart each contributed as starters/special teams starters as true freshmen in '09, as did Robby Toma (to a lesser extent as a rotation player in October).

  • Leading Receiver: Theo Riddick (40 receptions, 414 yards, 3 TD)
  • Leading Rusher: Cierre Wood (119 rushes, 603 yards, 3 TD)
  • Most Rushing Touchdowns: Wood (3)
  • Leading Passer: N/A
  • Longest TD Scored: Cierre Wood – 39 yards (twice: Western Michigan and Miami, 2010)
  • Longest TD Combination: N/A, though Tyler Eifert caught the classes longest touchdown reception, a 39-yard strike from Tommy Rees last fall
  • Most Tackles: Manti Te'o (196)
  • Most Tackles for Loss: Te'o (15)
  • Most Interceptions: Zeke Motta (1)
  • Most Sacks: Te'o (2)
  • Most Games Played: Te'o/Motta (25)
  • Most Career Starts: Te'o (22)
  • Total Touchdowns Scored by the class' remaining members: 10 (Wood 5, Riddick 3, Eifert 2)

  • Offensive MVP to date: Left tackle Zack Martin, with Cierre Wood second and Theo Riddick a close third.
  • Defensive MVP to date: Without question, Manti Te'o. Carlo Calabrese ranks as a distant second with Zeke Motta third.
  • Special Teams MVP to date: Nick Tausch, 14 field goals in 17 attempts in 2009.
  • Best individual games to date: Offense: Riddick vs. Michigan State (10 receptions, 128 yards, 1 TD). Runner-up: Left tackle Zack Martin vs. Miami in the 2010 Sun Bowl, or Wood vs. Miami (12 carries, 81 yards, 39-yard TD). Defense: Carlo Calabrese vs. Boston College 2010 (10 tackles, 3.5 for lost yardage, sack). Runner-up: Te'o vs. Stanford 2010 (21 tackles).

  • Aggregate Starts: 75 (with Tausch as the lead kicker in 12, Ben Turk the main punter in 19, and Jordan Cowart the long-snapper in 24).
  • Likely 2011 Starters: Carlo Calabrese, Jordan Cowart, Tyler Eifert, Zack Martin, Zeke Motta, Theo Riddick, Manti Te'o, Ben Turk, Chris Watt, Cierre Wood
  • Possible 2011 Starting Assignment: Robby Toma
  • Likely Two-deep Contributors: Dan Fox, Nick Tausch
  • Depth Chart competitor: Tyler Stockton and Jake Golic
  • Transferred Players: Shaquelle Evans (prior to 2010 season); Alex Bullard (following 2010 season); E.J. Banks (dismissed in 2010). Top Stories