Blanton, Fleming Tabbed in Fifth

A pair of defensive stalwarts from Notre Dame's 2008 recruiting class were selected today in the fifth round of the NFL Draft.

Both hit campus in the summer of 2008. Both started multiple games as true freshmen, and both finished their Irish careers playing in 50 of a possible 51 games. Cornerback Robert Blanton and linebacker Darius Fleming followed similar career paths at Notre Dame and today both were selected in the 5th Round of the 2012 NFL Draft. Blanton as the 139th pick by the Minnesota Vikings; Fleming No. 165 to the San Francisco 49ers.

Blanton joins fellow Irish defensive back Harrison Smith as a Vikings selection this weekend. Minnesota took the Notre Dame captain and starting safety with the 29th pick of the first round Thursday evening.

Fleming ranks 10th in program with 15 career sacks. He recorded 158 career stops including 32.5 tackles for loss, adding a pair of interceptions, eight passes defended, and two forced fumbles. Fleming was named Notre Dame's Lineman of the Year last fall after registering 55 tackles including seven for loss with 3.5 sacks, one interception, three passes defended, a forced fumble and blocked PAT.

Blanton finished third on the 2011 Irish with 70 tackles including 8 for loss, which ranked second behind Manti Te'o. After a breakout freshman year that included four starts and two interceptions including one returned for touchdown, Blanton scuffled as a sophomore in 2009.

He then blossomed under defensive coordinator Bob Diaco and the Chuck Martin/Kerry Cooks secondary, finishing 122 tackles (15 for loss), 15 PD, 4 Interceptions, two sacks, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, and a blocked punt he returned for a touchdown.

Over the course of his career, Blanton finished with 8 interceptions, 19 tackles for loss, and a whopping 203 stops from his cornerback position.

The pair join Michael Floyd (No. 13 overall, 2012) and Kyle Rudolph (2nd Round, 2011) as draft picks from the 2008 recruiting class, ranked No. 2 overall by Scout.com


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