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Irish Illustrated Top 10

The Irish Illustrated Staff offers it choices for Notre Dame’s best players in 2016.

The survey crew was comprised of Jake Brown, Jack Freeman, Steve Hare, Anna Hickey, Tim O’Malley, Tim Prister, and Pete Sampson.

A total of 25 players received votes including 21 that garnered a Top 10 mention. (For the second straight season, one walk-on made the honorable mention list – and it was a repeat nomination at that.)

Only three players received first place votes (in parenthesis):

1. Mike McGlinchey (2): Was the top pick for Sampson and Brown and received a trio of #2 nominations as well but was left off one ballot (earned honorable mention). Said Freeman of McGlinchey: “Displays leadership under all conditions, 24/7.”

2. DeShone Kizer (3): Top pick for Hare, Freeman and Hickey; ranked fourth by Brown and O’Malley. Said Hare of Kizer, “I believe Kizer eventually is named QB1 and he’ll have to direct an offense that scores a lot of points this season to compensate for a defense that won’t exactly be stingy.”

3. Quenton Nelson (2): Top pick by O’Malley and Prister and ranked #3 by Hickey. (Earned honorable mentioned from Hare). Said Jake Brown of Nelson: “Mauler. Nelson is going to, for lack of a better way to put it, kick a lot of ass this season.”

4. Isaac Rochell: Variance begins here, with Hare, O’Malley and Freeman ranking him third and Sampson the lowest at 7th.  Offered O’Malley of Rochell: “Actually finished with more Stuffs last season (27 to 25) than Sheldon Day. Would love to see a ‘Man in the sand’ battle against McGlinchey or Nelson.’”

5. Torii Hunter: Huge disparity with a lows of #9 (Brown) and #10 (Hare) and a high of #2 (Prister). The rest of us placed him 5th. Said Prister of Hunter: “Still based on potential, this guy will catch anything and everything thrown his way this fall.”

6. Malik Zaire: Left off of one (Brown) and was as high as #2 (Hare), while also placing at #4 twice (Sampson and Hickey).  Said Sampson of Zaire: “Let's think about Zaire without the injury. He's the starter. He's a captain. He's a Heisman dark horse.”

7. Tarean Folston: Highest was Brown (#6) and was left off two ballots (Freeman and Prister, who had him #11). The rest of us had him 7, 9, 10. Said Hickey of Folston: “Team’s most under-the-radar offensive weapon, and he’s the starting running back. Go figure.”

8. Nyles Morgan: As high as #6 (Sampson) and left off four ballots (Brown, Hare, Hickey, and Prister, who had him #13). Said O’Malley of Morgan: “Can rush the passer, cover underneath, and roam sideline-to-sideline against the run.”

9. James Onwualu: As high as #4 (Freeman), but was left off of four Top 10 lists (Brown, Hare, Hickey, Prister). Said Sampson of the team captain: “Best cover linebacker on the team and outstanding leader. Will have a big season, even if he doesn't post outlandish stats while doing it.”

10. Cole Luke: Placed at #8 (Brown) or #9 (Sampson, Prister, O’Malley) while being left off two Top 10 lists (Freeman, Hickey). Said Brown of Luke: “Expecting Luke to bounce back from a down 2015 season. Also, a top-notch trash talker.” 

Just Missed:

11. Josh Adams: Earned #8 overall mentions from Hare, Hickey and Prister, the latter of whom offered “Will provide the dash in Notre Dame’s one-two running back punch.”
 
12. Shaun Crawford
: Placed on three ballots (Hare, Prister, and Hickey). Said Prister: “Yet to play, but should quickly ascend into a lock-down corner/nickel role for the Irish.”

13. Tyler Newsome: No. 10 for both Prister and Brown. Prister noted: “Quirky specialist has one of the more lively legs in Notre Dame special teams history.”

14. Drue Tranquill: Earned a #6 nomination from Hare and #9 mention from Hickey, who offered, “Will give you all he’s got and then some.”

15. C.J. Sanders: #8 vote from Freeman who noted, “Will provide a spark both on special teams and in the slot.”

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Nick Coleman, Devin Studstill, Miles Boykin, Jarron Jones, Jay Hayes, Justin Yoon, Nic Weishar, Jerry Tillery, Durham Smythe, and Buster Sheridan – each received one vote with Studstill, Jones, Hayes, Yoon, and Tillery getting a Top 10 vote.


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