2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Vikings lead NFL with 5 players from Notre Dame

By DAVE CAMPBELL - AP Pro Football Writer
    2012-12-07 14:54

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) - Notre Dame is one of the few college football teams that truly can boast a national following.

Why, there's even an alumni chapter in the Minnesota Vikings locker room.

``It's really fun to be able to talk trash to everybody,'' said center John Sullivan, who has a leprechaun tattoo on his left shoulder.

Sullivan is one of five ex-Notre Dame players on the Vikings, the most of any NFL team. There are currently 26 former Fighting Irish on active rosters around the league, and the next-closest team is Indianapolis with three, according to STATS LLC.

So not only do Notre Dame alumni make up nearly 10 percent of Minnesota's roster but the Vikings have almost 20 percent of the NFL's, well, Irish heritage. After drafting Sullivan in the sixth round in 2008, they took tight end Kyle Rudolph in the second round in 2011. This year, they selected safety Harrison Smith in the first round and safety Robert Blanton in the fifth round. They also signed tight end John Carlson, a second-round pick by Seattle in 2008, as a free agent.

With the Fighting Irish undefeated and set to play Alabama for the BCS championship on Jan. 7, there's no doubt which school colors have been the brightest around the Vikings this season. Bragging rights were clear after Notre Dame beat Stanford (running back Toby Gerhart), Oklahoma (running back Adrian Peterson and right tackle Phil Loadholt) and of course rival USC (left tackle Matt Kalil, defensive end Everson Griffen and tight end Rhett Ellison).

``We're always coming in here after their games saying, `We told you so.' So far it's been a good year,'' Smith said.

They've even roughed out a plan to fly to Miami for the big game, as long as a potential practice - should the Vikings make the playoffs - doesn't interfere.

Regular season games are typically tough to watch, with Saturday afternoon travel on weeks with road games or meetings in the hotel at night. But Blanton and Smith tried to watch together when the Vikings were on the road and Notre Dame had a prime-time kickoff. Sullivan chartered a flight with Rudolph and Loadholt to watch the game at Oklahoma on Oct. 27, a weekend the Vikings had off.

``Afterward, Phil came up to us and said, `You guys just physically dominated the game,''' Rudolph recalled. ``It's been a long time since Notre Dame's gone on the road to a top-10 team and just dominated the game.''

That's true. None of these five teammates lost fewer than three times in any season they were at Notre Dame. Some years, they didn't even play in a bowl game.

Jealousy of the current team isn't part of their mindset, though.

``Pretty proud of those guys,'' Blanton said.

Just as proud of the traditionally strict academic standards, as they all noted, as the success on the field.

``They follow the rules there. It's one of those places where you don't get away with stuff. They expect you to go to class. They make sure everyone graduates,'' said Carlson, who met his wife, Danielle, at Notre Dame.

The Vikings didn't exactly make a conscious effort to create such a high concentration of former Fighting Irish.

``I think it was more coincidence because we're always going to stack our draft board according to a player's ability, and our rating system is building on upside and potential,'' general manager Rick Spielman said. ``I don't know that we've honed in, just because they go to a Notre Dame or a USC or an Ohio State or something like that.''

The Vikings, though, have shaped their roster philosophy around a stated desire for tough, smart, passionate players, attributes that Notre Dame products often possess, even during some of the down years they've had in the last decade.

``Clearly there's something about that school that our front office and the people making our personnel decisions like, but at the same time it really comes down to a case by case basis,'' Sullivan said. ``You can find great people from a whole lot of schools. I think we've got a lot of great people here. That can come from the whole spectrum of college football.''

Only the Notre Dame guys will be able to cheer for their team in the national championship game next month, however. The Vikings don't have any Alabama players on the roster now.

``We have to make sure that while we're on top,'' Rudolph said, ``we let everyone else know.''

---

AP Sports Writer Jon Krawczynski contributed to this report.

---

Follow Dave Campbell on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/DaveCampbellAP

---

Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

David WilsonJul 31 12:01p

New York Giants RB David Wilson (neck) 'needs a miracle' from his surgeon's evaluation to be able to continue his playing career, according to a source.

David WilsonJul 31 11:52a

New York Giants RB David Wilson (neck) attended team meetings Thursday, July 31, and appeared ready to go, according to RB Rashad Jennings.

Brent UrbanJul 31 11:42a

Baltimore Ravens DE Brent Urban (knee) suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament during practice Wednesday, July 30, and will miss the entire 2014 season.

Lance LouisJul 31 11:32a

Indianapolis Colts OG Jack Mewhort appears to be the leading candidate for the starting left guard job. OG Lance Louis is also considered a candidate for the job.

Donald ThomasJul 31 11:22a

Indianapolis Colts OG Donald Thomas (quadriceps) is scheduled to undergo season-ending quadriceps surgery and will be placed on the Reserve/Injured list, according to head coach Chuck Pagano.

Nick BarnettJul 31 11:12a

Free-agent LB Nick Barnett (Redskins) is still an option for the Atlanta Falcons depending on what happens with the team's linebackers. The Falcons worked out Barnett in June but did not sign him.

Josh GordonJul 31 10:42a

Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon is not practicing Thursday, July 31, and presumably will miss practice Friday, Aug. 1, to attend his suspension appeal hearing.

Eric BerryJul 31 10:32a

Kansas City Chiefs SS Eric Berry (leg, foot) was carted off at practice Thursday, July 31, with a right leg or foot injury. SS Jerron McMillian has taken his place.

Jordan TodmanJul 31 09:52a

Jacksonville Jaguars RB Toby Gerhart is expected to be spelled by RBs Jordan Todman, Denard Robinson and Storm Johnson so he doesn't reach the 300-carry plateau.

Morgan BurnettJul 31 09:42a

Green Bay Packers FS Morgan Burnett (ankle) and SS Tanner Miller (undisclosed) are not practicing Thursday, July 31.

Micah HydeJul 31 09:42a

Green Bay Packers FS Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is working with the first-team defense at strong safety beside FS Micah Hyde Thursday, July 31.

Lardarius WebbJul 31 09:23a

Baltimore Ravens CB Lardarius Webb (back), DE Brent Urban (knee), DT Timmy Jernigan (back), OG Will Rackley (concussion) and WR Jeremy Butler (undisclosed) are out of practice Thursday, July [ More ]

Terrell SuggsJul 31 09:03a

Baltimore Ravens LB Terrell Suggs, DT Haloti Ngata and LB Daryl Smith are not practicing Thursday, July 31.

Nate GarnerJul 31 08:53a

Miami Dolphins C Nate Garner is working with the first-team offense again Thursday, July 31, over C Shelley Smith.

A.J. HawkJul 31 01:53a

Green Bay Packers LB Brad Jones has been working ahead of LB A.J. Hawk as the lone linebacker in the dime defense in practice.

Matt CasselJul 31 01:53a

Minnesota Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater saw reps with the first-team offense in practice Wednesday, July 30. According to NFL Network's Albert Breer, QB Matt Cassel appears to lead the [ More ]

Christian PonderJul 31 01:53a

Minnesota Vikings QB Christian Ponder's reps were cut during practice Wednesday, July 30.

Josh GordonJul 30 11:43p

Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon is in Stage III of the NFL's substance-abuse program, and a positive test automatically triggers a one-year suspension. For Gordon, only two options exist: [ More ]

Rod StreaterJul 30 11:43p

Oakland Raiders WR Rod Streater (concussion) participated in warmups and drills Wednesday, July 30, but he sat out team sessions. Streater suffered a concussion Monday, July 28, and has [ More ]

Joique BellJul 30 10:23p

Detroit Lions RB Joique Bell (knee) missed organized team activities (OTAs) and minicamp while recovering from a knee injury, but he looked good cutting and accelerating with ease during [ More ]

Rob SimsJul 30 10:23p

Detroit Lions OG Rob Sims (knee) missed organized team activities (OTAs) and minicamp while recovering from a knee injury, but he held his own working against DT Nick Fairley [ More ]

Allen RobinsonJul 30 10:13p

Updating a previous report, Jacksonville Jaguars WR Allen Robinson (and fellow rookie WR Marqise Lee) have seen plenty of opportunity at training camp with WR Cecil Shorts (hamstring) and [ More ]

Marqise LeeJul 30 10:13p

Jacksonville Jaguars WR Marqise Lee (and fellow rookie WR Allen Robinson) have seen more reps in training camp with WR Cecil Shorts (hamstring) and WR Ace Sanders (personal) sidelined. [ More ]

Carl NicksJul 30 08:03p

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers officially released OG Carl Nicks (toe) Wednesday, July 30, with an injury settlement.

David WilsonJul 30 06:43p

New York Giants RB David Wilson (neck) tweeted that he is fine after leaving practice early Tuesday, July 29. Wilson said he passed all physical examinations and will find out more Monday, Aug. 3.

Jim LeonhardJul 30 05:53p

The Cleveland Browns signed SS Jim Leonhard (Bills) Wednesday, July 30. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Aldon SmithJul 30 04:43p

San Francisco 49ers LB Aldon Smith is not participating in practice Wednesday, July 30, as he attends a hearing at the Los Angeles City Attorney's office regarding an April [ More ]

Fred JacksonJul 30 04:13p

The Buffalo Bills have signed RB Fred Jackson to a one-year contract extension. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Jason GarrettJul 30 03:23p

Updating a previous report, Dallas Cowboys DE Demarcus Lawrence (foot) will undergo surgery for a broken foot Thursday, July 31, according to head coach Jason Garrett.

LaMichael JamesJul 30 03:03p

San Francisco 49ers RB LaMichael James (elbow) will wear a brace on his dislocated elbow and should be ready for the start of the regular season, according to head coach Jim Harbaugh.

Brent UrbanJul 30 02:23p

Baltimore Ravens DE Brent Urban (leg) and DT Timmy Jernigan (back) appear to have suffered injuries during practice Wednesday, July 30. Urban was helped off the field after suffering the injury.

Tyron SmithJul 30 02:03p

Dallas Cowboys OT Tyron Smith has agreed to terms with the team on an eight-year contract extension worth $98 million, according to a source.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group