Notre Dame Football

ISD Top 25: Charlie Weis Era 20-16

May 15, 2018

ISD decided to rank the Top 25 players for the last five Irish head coaches---Brian Kelly, Charlie Weis, Tyrone Willingham, Bob Davie and Lou Holtz.  This was quite an undertaking, but we thought we'd have fun as a staff doing it, and we felt our readers would enjoy it as well.  

We will start this week with our Top 25 for Charlie Weis, and throughout the spring and summer, we will be releasing the other Top 25 for the other coaches as well.  

We know there will be a lot of debate about this moving forward, and that's great because everyone has different opinions.  

We also ranked each player by how much impact they had on the teams they played for.  It had nothing to do with NFL potential or overall talent...simply the results based on their performance while at Notre Dame.  

Understanding that, here are ISD's rankings of the No. 20 through No. 16 players for the Charlie Weis era.  We will release the rest as the week goes on finishing with our No. 5 through No. 1 on Friday.  

Please feel free to discuss our rankings by posting your comments below.  Feel free to discuss how you feel they should be ranked, and ask any questions you may have of our staff or our rankings.  

ISD Top 25: Charlie Weis Era 25-21

20. Mike Richardson – Cornerback 

Irish Sports Daily
CB Mike Richardson

The 5-foot-11, 188-pounder didn’t play as a true freshman in 2002, but played in all 12 games as a sophomore and finished with 16 tackles. 

In 2004, Richardson once again played in all 12 games and started five games at cornerback. He posted 33 tackles, one interception and forced three fumbles. 

As a senior, Richardson started 12 games and finished fifth on the team in tackles with 66, including 50 solo stops. The Warner Robins (Ga.) native also picked off three passes, forced two fumbles and broke up seven passes. 

In his final year in the blue and gold, Richardson made 55 tackles, six tackles for loss and led the team with four interceptions. 

Career Stats 
49 career games 
170 tackles 
11.5 tackles for loss
8 interceptions 

19. Anthony Fasano – Tight End

Irish Sports Daily
TE Anthony Fasano 

Fasano played one season for Charlie Weis, but he was too good in that season to leave off of this list. He emerged as one of the top tight ends in school history and elevated the standard at the tight end position for the players that directly followed him.

A tremendous asset as a blocker, he made an equal impact as a receiver with 47 catches for 576 yards in his final season. His touchdown numbers weren't significant (2), but that largely had to do with the outstanding targets Brady Quinn had to throw to on the outside. 

When he left Notre Dame, he was second on the all-time list in receptions and receiving yards at his position. When you consider the All-Americans that played prior to him, it says a lot about what he accomplished. 

He had standout receiving games against Tennessee, Michigan State, Washington, and USC that season and more than doubled his career total for receptions and yards. Fasano finished as a finalist for the John Mackey Award as one of the top tight ends in the nation.

Career Stats 
92 catches
1,112 yards
12.1 yards per reception
8 touchdowns

18. Kyle McCarthy – Safety 

Irish Sports Daily
S Kyle McCarthy

McCarthy logged 167 special teams appearances in his sophomore season in 2006 and recorded nine tackles in 13 games. The Youngstown (Ohio) native almost always had a knack for making the big play at a crucial moment in the game. 

In 2007, McCarthy played in all 12 games and got his first start against Navy. McCarthy logged 20 tackle, one interception and a forced fumble, including a season-high seven tackles against the Midshipmen. 

As a senior in 2008, McCarthy led Notre Dame with 110 tackles and became the first defensive back in program history to eclipse 100 tackles in a season. McCarthy recorded 14 tackles against San Diego State and Stanford and then set a career-high with 15 tackles against Pitt. 

In his fifth and final season, McCarthy registered 101 tackles, 3.0 tackles for loss and five interceptions. The five picks finished 19th in the country. McCarthy was one of only two players from a BCS school to rank in the top 100 in interceptions, total tackles and total solo tackles in 2009. 

Career Stats 
50 games 
6.5 tackles for loss 
8 interceptions 

17. Eric Olsen – Offensive Line 

Irish Sports Daily
OL Eric Olsen

If Olsen played on more successful teams, he would be remembered more than he is now. A stalwart at guard and center, he started 19 straight games at guard before switching to center for the first time as a senior. That year he was named the top offensive lineman on the team despite having four-year starter Sam Young on the same line. 

At both spots, he was nasty run blocker that had an edge to his game. Even with that edge, he went penalized only once in his final 1,731 plays of his Notre Dame career. If others had the same kind of mentality he had then the Irish running game would have been far more productive than it was during the 2008 and 2009 seasons. 

He's the perfect example of how a very good offensive lineman can be forgotten because the rushing numbers weren't prolific and the win-loss record wasn't what it should have been. A team captain in 2009, Olsen did more than his part even if things didn't go as well around him. 

Career stats
Team captain
Guardian of the Year Award as Top Offensive Lineman
31 straight starts at guard and center
3rd-team All-American by Sporting News

16. David Bruton – Safety 

Irish Sports Daily
S David Bruton

The Ohio native played in 11 games in 2005as a true freshman and recorded 14 tackles, including five tackles on kickoff coverage against Purdue. 

As a sophomore, Bruton played in 12 games on special teams and as a backup safety. He finished with 18 tackles. 

Bruton started 11 games at free safety in 2007 and finished third on the team with 85 tackles. The rangy safety also recorded three interceptions and 4.5 tackles for loss. Against Air Force, Bruton made 13 stops on the day. 

In 2008, Bruton was named a captain and made 85 tackles, which ranked third on the team. Bruton recorded three interceptions, 5.5 tackles for loss and three passes broken up. He was also named to the Nagurski Watch List. 

Effort and the will to battle will always stand out for Bruton. He came to work every day in some of Notre Dame's darkest of times. 

Career Stats 
48 career games 
213 tackles 
7.0 tackles for loss 
7 interceptions 

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