The University of Notre Dame has been a perennial stockpot for the National Football League, churning-out somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 NFL players over the past 125 years (if you don't believe me, feel free to check here).
Currently, there are 28 Fighting Irish players on NFL rosters -- with several top free agents seeking to up that number (including running back Ryan Grant, wide receiver Arnaz Battle, and safety Chinedum Ndukwe).
Here's a list of those players:
Armando Allen, RB, Chicago Bears
Jordan Black, OT, Washington Redskins
Sergio Brown, S, New England Patriots
David Bruton, S, Denver Broncos
Jimmy Clausen, QB, Carolina Panthers
Anthony Fasano, TE, Miami Dolphins
Darius Fleming, LB, San Francisco 49ers
Ryan Harris, OT, Denver Broncos
Robert Hughes, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
J.J. Jansen, Long Snapper, Carolina Panthers
Derek Landri, DT, Philadelphia Eagles
Trevor Laws, DT, St. Louis Rams
Kyle McCarthy, S, Kansas City Chiefs
Eric Olsen, OG, New Orleans Saints
Trevor Robinson, OG, Cincinnati Bengals
Harrison Smith, S, Minnesota Vikings
Maurice Stovall, WR, Detroit Lions
John Sullivan, C, Minnesota Vikings
Golden Tate, WR, Seattle Seahawks
Ian Williams, DT, San Francisco 49ers
Sam Young, OT, Buffalo Bills
Tom Zbikowski, S, Indianapolis Colts
The Big Three:
Kyle Rudolph, TE, Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings made Rudolph the 43rd overall pick of the 2011 NFL draft. In spite of shoulder and hamstring injuries (the former of which cost him three games his sophomore season; the latter six his junior year), Rudolph finished his collegiate career with 90 receptions, 1,032 yards, and eight touchdowns. An impact rookie, Rudolph caught 26 passes for 239 yards and three touchdowns (one fantastic one can be seen here), despite the presence of veteran tight end Visanthe Shiancoe. Shiancoe has been replaced with fellow Irish standout John Carlson, and big things are expected from Rudolph in 2012.
Justin Tuck, DE, New York Giants: "The Freak" finished his Notre Dame career with 24.5 sacks, 43 tackles for a loss, and 13.5 sacks in a season -- all ND records. In the NFL, he has recorded 40.5 sacks, 17 forced fumbles, six fumble recoveries, and two Super Bowl victories over the New England Patriots (JT registered a safety, as he danced with Tom Brady in Super Bowl XLVI). Tuck and fellow Giants DE Osi Umenyiora have made up arguably the most formidable pair of defensive ends in the NFL for the better part of the past six seasons.
Michael Floyd, WR, Arizona Cardinals: Notre Dame has produced several NFL loose ends in history, but none in recent years have provided as much buzz as Michael Floyd. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Floyd left ND having registered 271 receptions for 3,868 yards and 37 touchdowns in 42 games -- all of which are school records. He also holds the ND mark for single-season receptions (100 in 2011). The Arizona Cardinals selected Floyd with the 13th overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft, in hopes he can maintain the high level of production ND fans have been used to the past four years. He will join fellow Minnesotan Larry Fitzgerald in the Arizona formation, giving the Cardinals a dynamic duo.
All collegiate stats courtesy of und.com. All NFL stats courtesy of nfl.com. All videos courtesy of youtube.com.
The author is a lifelong Notre Dame Fighting Irish fan -- of both athletics and academics.