Notre Dame Football

ISD Top 25: Charlie Weis Era 10-6

May 17, 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. 10 through No. 6 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
ISD Top 25: Charlie Weis Era 20-16
ISD Top 25: Charlie Weis Era 15-11 

10. Derek Landri – Nose Guard

Irish Sports Daily
DL Derek Landri

I’ll always remember Brady Quinn finding Jeff Samardzija for the winning touchdown against UCLA, but I also won’t forget Derek Landri making the sack to end the game. 

The 6-foot-3, 277-pounder was never the most celebrated player but he always found himself around the football. 

Landri recorded 40 tackles his sophomore year, 43 in his junior year before making 65 tackles his final year in South Bend. Oh, he also had 15.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks in 2006. 

Career Stats 
37 career starts 
148 career tackles 
30.5 tackles for loss 

9. Victor Abiamiri – Defensive End 

Irish Sports Daily
DE Victor Abiamiri

A rare five-star defensive lineman that ended up at Notre Dame, Abiamiri did not become the All-American end that many assumed he would be. It should not be forgotten that he developed into one of the best edge rushers that has strapped on a gold helmet. 

It's easy to say he didn't live up to the hype because he struggled to make an impact early in his career, but in his two years under Charlie Weis, he had the best years of his career with 18.5 sacks and 30 tackles for loss. That production is the best two year run for a defensive lineman at Notre Dame for anyone not named Justin Tuck in the past 20 years. 

It took him awhile to get going, but his game reached another level against Stanford in 2005 when the Irish needed to win on the road to qualify for the Fiesta Bowl. He finished with 10 tackles and four sacks, which included the final two plays of the game to seal the victory.

Most of the time he was very good, but when he was great, there may not have been a better player on the defense in those two seasons.

Career Stats
30 starts
128 tackles
40 tackles for loss
21.5 sacks (tied for 3rd all-time at Notre Dame)
3 forced fumbles
2 pass deflections
Back to back winner of Notre Dame's Linemen of the Year

8. Darius Walker – Running Back 

Irish Sports Daily
RB Darius Walker

Walker finished his Notre Dame career with his name in the record book 38 times. The Georgia native is third in career rushing attempts (693) and holds the fourth most rushing yards in a blue and gold uniform with 3,249 yards. 

The 5-foot-10, 208-pounder rushed for 100 yards in 15 games and scored 26 touchdowns over his three-year career. 

Walker also caught 56 balls in 2006 for 391 yards to go along with 1,267 rushing yards. 

Career Stats 
38 career games 
693 carries
3,249 rushing yards
109 career receptions
816 receiving yards
26 total touchdowns

7. Ryan Harris – Offensive Line 

Irish Sports Daily
OL Ryan Harris

Notre Dame has had a string of great left tackles under Brian Kelly, but one doesn't have to go that far back to find the most recent great one before that. Harris was one of the top tackles in college football. 

He wasn't entirely on the same level as fellow Irish great Zack Martin, but he was definitely under appreciated much like Martin was. It's probably because he never overwhelmed opponents with power as a run blocker. He won more with athleticism and body position, which worked just fine in helping Darius Walker achieve success on the ground.

What everyone looks for in a left tackle is consistency, and that is what Harris provided in his final two years at Notre Dame. 

Career stats
45 consecutive starts
37 consecutive starts at left tackle
Guardian of the Year Award winner in 2004 and 2006

6. Tom Zbikowski – Safety 

Irish Sports Daily
S Tom Zbikowski

The Buffalo Grove (Ill.) native needs little introduction as it’s impossible to forget the legacy of Tom Zbikowski from the safety position but also as a punter returner. 

From the electric punt return against USC to the return against Tennessee to the big hits. Zbikowski played in your face football and wasn’t afraid to let you know about it. 

Zbikowski recorded 70 tackles his sophomore season, but it was his junior year that put him on the map. In 2006, Zbikowski recorded 71 tackles and led the team with five interceptions, including two for touchdowns. He also added in two more punt returns for scores. 

In 2006, Zbikowski racked up 79 tackles and scored his third career touchdown on a punt return against North Carolina. For his efforts, he was named a semi-finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award. 

2007 wasn’t a great year for Notre Dame football, but Zbikowski made 80 stops and picked off two passes in his final season in South Bend. He also finished the year averaging 10.2 yards per punt return. 

Career Stats 
36 career starts 
220 tackles 
4.5 tackles for loss 
8 interceptions
757 punt return yards 
3 punts returned for touchdowns 


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