Each a Notre Dame legend, each an NFL first- or second-round draft pick. Each a member of Lou Holtz's 1992 freshmen haul that long-time recruiting guru Allen Wallace ranked as the nation's seventh-best. (Tom Lemming had the Irish No. 1.)
Both classes, Holtz's from '92 and Brian Kelly's from 2010 stand currently at 36 victories, the latter with a pair to play.
(It's relevant to note that the '92 freshmen played the maximum of 48 total games while the current class will finish playing 52).
"This is a unique class…this was kind of that class that we tried to hold onto when we got here," said Kelly of what was for a long stretch a two-person coaching staff (with lone Weis-era holdover Tony Alford).
"This development of relationships with this group was one where they were a group of guys that we didn't have a strong bond with, but we had to build one over time, and I think we have. I think we have a different relationship in a sense, a unique relationship with these guys in that they have to trust us, and that in itself as a group is a great dynamic."
The class's internal bonds were forged quickly and grew through trials, then triumph.
- They began their careers 1-3 and leveled off at 4-5 before finishing on a 4-0 run that included wins over Utah, USC, and Miami. The early November 2010 win over Utah was the program's first over a ranked foe since September 2006; the victory over USC the program's first since October 2001.
- An 0-2 start to the 2011 season put the group at just 8-7 in their first 15 games. They've since won 28 of 35 contests including 15 of 17 at home.
- A 12-0 run through 2012 ended with the program's first No. 1 ranking since November, 15, 1993.
With two games remaining, the now 17-player class is likely to break its tie with the 1992 group, a collection of talent that included seven future draft picks.
2010: 36 wins and counting23 prospects inked Irish on Signing Day 2010 -- just 16 were active on the roster this fall due to injuries, transfer, and the passing of Matt James in April 2010.
-- Three had their careers truncated due to injury: offensive tackle Tate Nichols (as a junior in 2012), running back Cameron Roberson (as junior in 2012 as well), and linebacker Danny Spond (August 2013). Roberson never played a game, redshirting as a true freshman and never recovering from a spring 2011 ACL tear thereafter.
-- Three transferred -- two before Kelly's first season kicked off: LB Derek Roback (Ohio), CB Spencer Boyd (multiple), S Chris Badger (BYU). Of the three, only Roback committed to Kelly. None of the trio played a game for the Irish, bringing the number from the 23-player class that failed to appear in a contest at five (James, Roberson, Roback, Boyd, Badger).
-- 10 have been full or part-time starters during their tenures: Spond, Kona Schwenke, Austin Collinsworth, Louis Nix, TJ Jones, Tommy Rees, Bennett Jackson, Prince Shembo, Daniel Smith, and Christian Lombard.
- Two were named team captains: Jones and Jackson.
-- Five were listed for at least three seasons on the team's official two-deep but did not start and played sparingly from scrimmage. Four of the five served as a special teams starter: Alex Welch, Lo Wood, Kendall Moore, Justin Utupo, and Andrew Hendrix. Another, Bruce Heggie, served as a permanent backup role, outside the team's two-deep,
-- Eight have won a post-season program award: Rees, Nix, Jackson, Collinsworth, Roberson, Moore, Shembo, and Spond, with another, Jones, certain to do so following the season.
-- Of the 23 players signed in February 2010 -- Eight pledged to Kelly (chronologically from first to last): Collinsworth, Nichols, Heggie, Roback, Massa, Spond, James, and Schwenke.
-- Longest winning streak: 12 (2012 regular season)
-- Longest losing streak: 3 (September 2010)
-- Losing streaks of two (or more): 4
-- Winning streaks of four or more: 5 -- one to conclude 2010; two separate in 2011; a 12-game streak last season; one this year (ASU, USC, Air Force, Navy).
Note: The classes of 2011, 2012, and 2013 will be reviewed during the week following Saturday's game at Stanford.