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Coming Soon: Counting Down the Irish, 2015 edition

Jaylon Smith, Joe Schmidt

Jaylon Smith, Joe Schmidt


With the start of training camp right around the corner, it’s time for our annual tradition of ranking the Top 25 players on the Notre Dame roster.

As we enter season six of the Brian Kelly era, we find a Notre Dame roster that’s as talent-rich and deep as any we’ve seen. And as we enter our sixth season of this annual exercise, we’ve built a group of pollsters and experts that spend more time watching the Irish practice and play than any group we’ve ever had.

A year after 40 players received a vote and only 12 players made it on every ballot, we’ll see how this year’s roster looks in the eyes of our panelists. With a top-heavy team that features preseason All-Americans in Jaylon Smith and Ronnie Stanley, and standouts like Sheldon Day, KeiVarae Russell, returning Team MVP Joe Schmidt and offensive player of the year Will Fuller, this season’s rankings should also be fascinating.

We’ll start rolling out the results on Monday. Starting with the near-misses before we name our top five players on Friday. It’ll serve as a wonderful preseason snapshot, even if it’ll also serve as a reminder that even with 20 returning starters, somebody will sneak up on us.

Interested in turning back the clock? Let’s take a quick look at the top five from the past five seasons.

5. Tarean Folston, RB
4. Everett Golson, QB
3. Sheldon Day, DT
2. KeiVarae Russell, CB
1. Jaylon Smith, LB

5. Prince Shembo, LB
4. Bennett Jackson, CB
3. Zack Martin, LT
2. Stephon Tuitt, DE
1. Louis Nix, DT

5. Stephon Tuitt, DE
4. Zack Martin, LT
3. Cierre Wood, RB
2. Tyler Eifert, TE
1. Manti Te’o, LB

5. Gary Gray, CB
4. Zack Martin, LT
3. Harrison Smith, S
2. Manti Te’o, LB
1. Michael Floyd, WR

5. Trevor Robinson, OT
4. Chris Stewart, OG
3. Manti Te’o, LB
2. Kyle Rudolph, TE
1. Michael Floyd, WR

Want proof that Notre Dame’s football program is getting better? Just take a deeper look at these Top 25 lists—especially as players like Will Fuller emerge at No. 25, like he did last season.

I’m excited about our panelists (listed alphabetically, below) from this year and want to thank them in advance for their work. We’ll average out the scores from each ballot over the weekend and start the reveal Monday.

Our 2015 Irish Top 25 panel
Keith Arnold, Inside the Irish
Bryan Driskell, Blue & Gold
Matt Freeman, Irish Sports Daily
Nick Ironside, Irish 247
Tyler James, South Bend Tribune
Eric Murtaugh, One Foot Down
Pete Sampson, Irish Illustrated
Jude Seymour, Her Loyal Sons
JJ Stankevitz, CSN Chicago
John Vannie, NDNation
John Walters, Newsweek