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

Deone BucannonJul 24 11:32a

Arizona Cardinals S Deone Bucannon was not dropped into the starting lineup during offseason workouts, as the team has faith in FS Tony Jefferson and FS Rashad Johnson. He [ More ]

Ray RiceJul 24 11:31a

Baltimore Ravens RB Ray Rice will be suspended for the first two games of the season, according to sources. The announcement is expected Thursday, July 24.

Blake BortlesJul 24 11:22a

Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles' lower-body mechanics likely will be revised. Bortles' flaw has been over-reliance on his right arm when throwing; he doesn't use his legs enough. A [ More ]

Mikel LeshoureJul 24 11:14a

Detroit Lions RB Mikel Leshoure is currently believed to be the fourth tailback on the club behind RBs Reggie Bush, Joique Bell and Theo Riddick heading into training camp [ More ]

Justin BlackmonJul 24 10:53a

Jacksonville Jaguars WR Justin Blackmon was arrested for possession of marijuana Wednesday, July 23, in Oklahoma.

Jordan PalmerJul 24 10:52a

Chicago Bears QB Jordan Palmer still has the first shot at winning the backup quarterback job, according to head coach Marc Trestman.

R. Griffin IIIJul 24 10:22a

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III's designed running plays might be 'few and far between,' according to head coach Jay Gruden. He still has the green light to scramble [ More ]

Daniel FellsJul 24 09:42a

New York Giants TE Daniel Fells has received the first snap in 11-on-11 drills during the team's two days in training camp. Kellen Davis and Adrien Robinson have [ More ]

Ahmad BradshawJul 24 08:33a

Indianapolis Colts RB Ahmad Bradshaw (neck) has been cleared to practice. Bradshaw is an RB4, but he could be worth more if Trent Richardson fails to produce again.

Roddy WhiteJul 24 08:33a

Atlanta Falcons WR Roddy White signed a four-year extension with the team that will keep him under team control for the next five years, according to sources.

Donald ThomasJul 24 08:33a

Indianapolis Colts TE Dwayne Allen (hip) and OG Donald Thomas (quadriceps, biceps) have been cleared to practice.

Josh GordonJul 24 08:23a

Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon will have his appeal hearing for his one-year suspension Aug. 1.

Greg OlsenJul 24 01:43a

Carolina Panthers TE Greg Olsen said he is tired of hearing criticism about Carolina's new receiving corps, which is largely made up of journeymen and unproven commodities. Olsen added [ More ]

Aldon SmithJul 24 01:13a

San Francisco 49ers LB Aldon Smith is expected to meet with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in the near future, which likely would lead to a decision on any discipline for Smith.

Anthony BarrJul 23 11:23p

Minnesota Vikings LB Anthony Barr was with the team for just a few days during offseason workouts due to NFL rules. Head coach Mike Zimmer is eager to see [ More ]

Sharrif FloydJul 23 11:23p

Minnesota Vikings DT Sharrif Floyd had a good offseason, but head coach Mike Zimmer thinks the defensive tackle is trying to be too fine. 'Sharrif has a lot of [ More ]

C. PattersonJul 23 11:23p

Minnesota Vikings WR Cordarrelle Patterson will remain on kickoff returns despite an expanded role in the offense this season. 'We want our best players to get their hands on [ More ]

Montell OwensJul 23 11:23p

Detroit Lions FB Montell Owens has company, as the team will employ a more traditional fullback in the offense. They signed FB Jed Collins for the role. Owens is [ More ]

Harrison SmithJul 23 11:23p

Minnesota Vikings safeties Jamarca Sanford and Andrew Sendejo will be battling during training camp and the preseason for the starting job opposite FS Harrison Smith. 'That will be interesting, [ More ]

Matt CasselJul 23 11:23p

Minnesota Vikings QBs Teddy Bridgewater and Matt Cassel saw a majority of the snaps during spring workouts, but QB Christian Ponder has a chance to start, and head coach [ More ]

Chad GreenwayJul 23 11:23p

Minnesota Vikings LB Chad Greenway could be used as the starting middle linebacker, according to head coach Mike Zimmer. 'It's a possibility. We keep working him in there. We're [ More ]

Troy NiklasJul 23 10:23p

Arizona Cardinals TE Troy Niklas (hand) has been cleared to participate in training camp, and was working Wednesday, July 23.

Dan WilliamsJul 23 10:23p

Arizona Cardinals NT Dan Williams will open training camp as the team's starting nose tackle with NT Alameda Ta'amu (knee) on the Physically-Unable-to-Perform (PUP) list.

Johnny ManzielJul 23 10:23p

Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine thinks QB Johnny Manziel needs to increase dedication to earn the starting job. 'I think he knows that in order to compete well, [ More ]

Theo RiddickJul 23 10:23p

Detroit Lions RB Theo Riddick has the chance to break into the rotation at tailback, and he has drawn considerable praise from his teammates and coaches for his development [ More ]

Joique BellJul 23 10:23p

Detroit Lions RB Joique Bell (nee) missed most of the offseason due to a knee injury, although he has said his condition is minor and he expects to be [ More ]

Jed CollinsJul 23 10:23p

The Detroit Lions are re-incorporating the traditional fullback into their new offensive scheme this season, and that's why they went out and signed FB Jed Collins.

Cheta OzougwuJul 23 07:23p

New Orleans Saints DE Cheta Ozougwu (undisclosed) cleared waivers and was transferred to the Saints' Reserve/Injured list Wednesday, July 23.

Billy WinnJul 23 06:53p

The Cleveland Browns placed OL Chris Faulk (undisclosed), DE Billy Winn (undisclosed) and LB Tank Carder (undisclosed) on the non-football injury list Wednesday, July 23.

Kyle OrtonJul 23 06:33p

Free-agent QB Kyle Orton (Cowboys) does not want to retire and wants to play in 2014, according to Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

Conner VernonJul 23 06:23p

The Cleveland Browns placed CB Royce Adams, LB Brandon Magee and WR Conner Vernon on the no-recall waivers list Wednesday, July 23.

Terrance WestJul 23 06:23p

Updating a previous report, Cleveland Browns RB Terrance West (undisclosed) said on his Twitter page that he passed his conditioning test and people need to 'stop making up your [ More ]

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