The last time Notre Dame had two consensus All-Americans on its roster, Aaron Taylor and Jeff Burris led the Irish to within a field goal of playing for a national championship.
Now they have company in Jaylon Smith and Ronnie Stanley after the linebacker and offensive tackle were named consensus All-Americans on Thursday by the NCAA. The pair gives Notre Dame 99 consensus All-American selections in school history, honors earned by 83 different players. Both figures are the most in college football history.
Smith and Stanley are just the fifth and sixth consensus All-Americans at Notre Dame since the turn of the century, following Manti Te’o (2012), Golden Tate (2009), Shane Walton (2002) and Jeff Samardzija (2005).
For the sake of comparison, Notre Dame had 13 consensus All-American selections in the eight seasons spanning 1987-94. The Irish didn’t have another one until Walton eight years later.
To determine consensus All-Americans, the NCAA compiles five different All-American teams: Associated Press, Walter Camp, Football Writers Association of America, Sporting News and the American Football Coaches Association. Smith and Stanley each made the first team in four of those, meaning consensus All-American status was assured before the NCAA totaled the results.
Smith and Stanley were voted Notre Dame’s top players on defense and offense during the team’s season-ending awards show last week, although Will Fuller, who received only second-team All-American noticed, won MVP.