When a school has as long and as storied history of football as the University of Notre Dame has compiled, narrowing down the field to 25 best players to don the uniform is a daunting task.
The school's history includes a record seven Heisman Trophy winners, 43 College Football Hall of Fame players, and six coaches in the Hall of Fame. All are tops among collegiate programs. The talent pool is in South Bend, Ind., is so deep that one of the Heisman winners -- John Huarte (1962-1964) -- didn't even crack the top 25.
Here are a look at the top 25 players in Notre Dame history:
22-25. Harry Stuhldreher, QB; Don Miller, HB; Jim Crowley, HB; Elmer Layden, HB. 1922-1924.
Individually, all four players have been enshrined into the College Football Hall of Fame. Collectively, the foursome is a much bigger part of college football lore.
In 1924, Stuhldreher, Miller, Crowley and Layden were referenced by writer Grantland Rice, who wrote: "Outlined under a blue-gray October sky, the four horsemen road again."
Rice went on to relate the Irish backfield as aliases for Death, Destruction, Pestilence and Famine.
Shortly after, the four posed for a photo opportunity on top of horses, and the rest is football history.
21. Brady Quinn, QB. 2003-2006.
The quarterback would likely find himself higher on the list if he won a few more big games for the Irish, but, as an overall body of work, Quinn had a very solid career. He finished with nearly 12,000 passing yards, 95 touchdowns, and led the Irish to a pair of Bowl Championship Series games.
20. Allen Pinkett, HB. 1982-1985.
The two-time All-American running back finished his career as the all-time leading rusher with more than 4,000 yards and still holds the school record with 53 career touchdowns.
19. Jermome Bettis, FB. 1990-1992.
Bettis gets a little extra credit for what he did in his NFL career. As a back at Notre Dame, "The Bus" scored 39 career touchdowns and ran for more than 2,000 yards.18. Alan Page, DE. 1964-1966.
Page was an amazing defensive player, All-American, and helped the Irish to a national title. A member of both the Pro and College Football Hall of Fame.
17. Chris Zorich, DE. 1988-1990.
The three-time All-American and Lombardi Award winner was a dominating defensive end and helped lead the Irish to the 1988 national title.
16. Frank Carideo, QB. 1928-1930.
The quarterback went 19-0 for Knute Rockne and was twice named an All-American.
15. Ken MacAfee, TE, 1974-1977.
The Irish tight end was a two-time All-American, the Walter Camp Trophy winner and helped the Irish to the 1977 national title.
14. Joe Montana, QB. 1975, 1977-1979.
The Notre Dame quarterback is better known for winning four Super Bowls with the San Francisco 49ers in the NFL, but Montana also led Notre Dame to the 1977 title as a sophomore. It was at Notre Dame that Montana first started his late-game heroics, which he became well known for as a pro.
13. Joe Theismann, QB. 1968-1970.
Arriving in South Bend, Ind., as "Thees-man," Theismann changed the way his name was pronounced, to rhyme with Heisman. Theismann was the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy in 1970, and finished with a 20-3-2 record as starter.
12. Angelo Bertelli, QB. 1941-1943
Bertelli led the Irish to the 1943 national championship, and won the Heisman Trophy as he completed 69 percent of his passes. Not too bad of a year, considering he was called into service before the season was over.
11. Bob Crable, LB. 1979-1981.The linebacker was a two-time consensus All-American and holds the school record with 521 tackles. His totals include a record 26 tackles against Clemson in 1979.
10. Tim Brown, WR. 1984-1987.
The 1987 Heisman Trophy winner, Brown averaged 21 yards per catch his final two years with the Irish and was an excellent return man, making him a dynamic all-purpose threat.
9. Johnny Lattner, HB/DB. 1951-1953.
Lattner won the Heisman in 1953 and was a two-time consensus All-American playing in all aspects of the game. As a defender, he picked off 13 passes and recovered eight fumbles. He punted, returned punts and kickoffs, and, on offense, he rushing for more than 1,700 career yards.
8. Leon Hart, DE. 1946-1949.
Hart is the last lineman to win the Heisman Trophy, helping Notre Dame to a 36-0-2 mark and three national titles.
7. Ross Browner, DE. 1973-1977.
Browner helped Notre Dame to two titles, the 1973 championship as a freshman and again as a senior. The defensive lineman finished with 340 career tackles, won the Outland Trophy, and finished fifth in the Heisman balloting in 1977.
6. George Connor, OL. 1946-1947.
The two-time consensus All-American lineman played two years at Notre Dame, helping not only win every game he played, but the team never trailed in any of them. Connor won the first Outland Trophy ever handed out.
5. Tony Rice, QB. 1987-1989.
Rice led the the Irish to 23 wins in a row and the school's last national championship. The quraterback is the lone player in school history with more than 2,000 rushing yards and 3,000 passing yards.
4. Raghib Ishmail, WR. 1988-1990.
The "Rocket" was as explosive as it gets on the field. He won the Walter Camp Award and was second in the Heisman balloting as a junior, before turning pro. The multi-dimensional threat is the only player in school history with more than 1,000 yards rushing, receiving and on returns.
3. Paul Hornung, DB/QB. 1954-1956.
The three-way threat was the team's punter, kicker, quarterback, halfback and safety at some time during his Notre Dame career. His senior season he earned the Heisman Trophy, even though the team finished 2-8.
2. John Lujack, DB/QB. 1943, 1946-1947.
Lujack led Notre Dame to three national titles in the 1940s. The quarterback and defensive back standout won the Heisman Trophy in 1947 and never lost a game at Notre Dame.
1. George Gipp, DB/HB. 1917-1920.
More than just a sentimental pick, Gipp was the school's first consensus All-American as he led Knute Rockne's team to undefeated seasons as a junior and a senior seasons.
While he's probably better known for the tragedy that took his life just a couple days after beating Northwestern and for being played by Ronald Reagan in the 1940 movie "Knute Rockne All-American," Gipp was as good as it gets on the gridiron.
The three-way talent handled the kicking duties, picked off six passes, and ran for more than 1,500 in his final two years with the school. His 8.1 yards per carry is still a school record.
Allen Barrara, "The Sports Story That Changed America." The New York Times.
"Facts and Stats," University of Notre Dame.
"Notre Dame All Americans," Forever Irish
"2011 Football Media Guide," University of Notre Dame.
"2011 Football Media Supplement," University of Notre Dame.
Jeff DeLuca has been a sportswriter since 1997. He has been a fan of the University of Notre Dame since the early 1980s when his family's vacation plans often included a stop at the campus.