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December 11, 2009

Rivals.com 2009 all-independents team

One look at the Rivals.com all-independents team reveals how Notre Dame won six games this season. A look at the defense indicates how the Irish also lost six games.

Notre Dame has seven players on the all-independent offense and dominates the offensive skill positions, but the Irish only have three representatives on defense. Notre Dame ranked ninth in the nation in total offense and 87th in total defense on its way to a 6-6 season that resulted in the firing of Irish coach Charlie Weis.

The Irish recorded their second-lowest point total of the season in a 23-21 loss to Navy, which has six players on the all-independent defense team.

One glance at the all-independent team also shows how putting together this kind of all-star team is an inherently unfair process because only one player can make the squad from each position.

Navy quarterback Ricky Dobbs ranks second in the nation with 23 touchdown runs and obviously is one of the best players from any of the three independents, but he couldn't crack our team. We had room for only one quarterback and went with Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen, an All-America candidate and likely first-round NFL draft pick.

ALL-INDEPENDENT OFFENSE
QB Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame
Particulars: 6-3/223, Jr. High school: Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian
Buzz: Clausen went 289-of-425 for 3,722 yards with 28 touchdown passes and four interceptions. He ranks second in the nation in passing efficiency and third in passing yards per game (310.2). He passed for at least 300 yard in seven games and led the Irish to four fourth-quarter comebacks.
RB Armando Allen, Notre Dame
Particulars: 5-10/200, Jr. High school: Hialeah (Fla.) Miami Lakes
Buzz: Allen rushed for a team-high 696 yards on 142 carries despite missing four games with an ankle injury. He scored touchdowns in each of Notre Dame's first three games and exceeded the 100-yard mark against Michigan, Michigan State and Connecticut. Allen also caught 28 passes for 216 yards.
RB Vince Murray, Navy
Particulars: 6-1/217, Jr. High school: Union (Ky.) Ryle
Buzz: Murray has rushed for 884 yards and six touchdowns on 159 carries. He rushed for at least 115 yards in four consecutive games against SMU, Wake Forest, Temple and Notre Dame. He gained 175 yards in the victory over Wake Forest and ran for 158 yards on just 14 carries in the win over Notre Dame.
WR Michael Floyd, Notre Dame
Particulars: 6-3/220, Soph. High school: St. Paul (Minn.) Cretin-Derham Hall
Buzz: Floyd caught 44 passes for 795 yards and nine touchdowns despite missing five games with a broken collarbone. He compiled at least 100 receiving yards in five of the seven games he played and scored at least one TD in all but one of the games he played. He scored three times against Nevada and twice vs. Stanford.
WR Golden Tate, Notre Dame
Particulars: 5-11/195, Jr. High school: Hendersonville (Tenn.) Pope John Paul II
Buzz: Tate caught 93 passes for 1,496 yards and 15 touchdowns, and he also rushed for two more scores. He ranks third in the nation with 124.7 receiving yards per game. Tate compiled an NCAA-high nine 100-yard receiving games and set school single-season records for catches and receiving yards.
TE Kyle Rudolph, Notre Dame
Particulars: 6-6/260, Soph. High school: Cincinnati Elder
Buzz: Rudolph had 33 receptions for 364 yards and three touchdowns despite missing two games with a shoulder injury. He reached the end zone in victories over Nevada, Purdue and Washington. Rudolph's 2-yard catch on fourth-and-goal provided the winning touchdown with 25 seconds left in a 24-21 victory over Purdue.
Particulars: 6-4/256, Jr. High school: Philadelphia St. Joseph's Prep
Buzz: This two-year starter has helped Navy rank third in the nation at 279.7 rushing yards per game. Battipaglia also possesses plenty of versatility, as he started at center in Navy's opener vs. Ohio State.
T Sam Young, Notre Dame
Particulars: 6-8/320, Sr. High school: Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas
Buzz: Young finished his career with 50 starts, the most of any player in Notre Dame history. He didn't allow his first sack of the season until the ninth game of the year.
G Osei Asante, Navy
Particulars: 6-1/265, Sr. High school: Houston Cypress Ridge
Buzz: This team captain has the ability to play guard and center. Asante has played a vital role for an offense that led the nation in rushing last season and ranks third in that category this season.
G Curtis Bass, Navy
Particulars: 6-1/265, Sr. High school: Pearland (Texas) High
Buzz: Bass has made 25 consecutive starts in the past two seasons while helping Navy lead the nation in rushing last season and rank third this season. Bass and Co. have created so much running room that Navy didn't even bother attempting a pass this season in a victory over Wake Forest.
C Eric Olsen, Notre Dame
Particulars: 6-5/305, Sr. High school: Brooklyn (N.Y.) Poly Prep
Buzz: This team captain moved from guard to center for his senior senior and posted the best overall grade of any Notre Dame offensive lineman. Olsen allowed only one sack this season, an impressive feat for a lineman on a team that attempted more than 450 passes.
ALL-INDEPENDENT DEFENSE
Particulars: 6-1/225, Jr. High school: Houston Clear Lake
Buzz: McNary ranks second in the nation in tackles for loss (2.05 per game) and third in the nation in sacks (1.14 per game). He has 59 overall tackles, 22.5 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks. He has delivered at least one sack in eight of Army's 11 games and had four sacks against Temple.
T Ethan Johnson, Notre Dame
Particulars: 6-4/280, Soph. High school: Portland (Ore.) Lincoln
Buzz: Johnson had 32 overall tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and a team-high four sacks. He possesses enough versatility to play tackle and end.
T Victor Ugenyi, Army
Particulars: 6-3/262, Sr. High school: Sandy Springs (Ga.) North Springs
Buzz: Ugenyi has 35 overall tackles, eight tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. He had 2.5 tackles for loss against Iowa State.
E Jabaree Tuani, Navy
Particulars: 6-1/265, Soph. High school: Brentwood (Tenn.) Brentwood Academy
Buzz: Tuani has 45 overall tackles - 4.5 for loss - and 3.5 sacks while saving his best performances for the end of the season. All of his sacks have come in his last three games, and all his tackles for loss have come in the past five games.
LB Darius Fleming, Notre Dame
Particulars: 6-1/240, Soph. High school: Chicago St. Rita
Buzz: Fleming recorded 12 tackles for loss - five more than any of his teammates - to go along with 29 overall tackles and three sacks. He also matched a team-high with seven quarterback hurries. Fleming was at his best early in the season, as he combined for seven tackles for loss in September matchups with Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue.
LB Tony Haberer, Navy
Particulars: 6-1/217, Sr. High school: Liberty Hill (Texas) High
Buzz: Haberer ranks second on his team with 69 overall tackles and is tied for the team lead with six tackles for loss. He recorded two sacks in a victory over Wake Forest and provided two tackles for loss each against Air Force and Temple.
LB Ross Pospisil, Navy
Particulars: 6-0/227, Sr. High school: Temple (Texas) High
Buzz: Pospisil has 91 overall tackles - 22 more than anyone else on his team - plus six tackles for loss. If he makes at least nine tackles Saturday against Army, he will finish the season with 100 tackles for the second consecutive season.
CB Blake Carter, Navy
Particulars: 5-11/187, Sr. High school: Stillwater (Okla.) High
Buzz: Carter has 49 tackles and five pass breakups this season. He recorded nine tackles and forced a fumble to set up a touchdown in Navy's victory over Notre Dame.
CB Kevin Edwards, Navy
Particulars: 6-2/180, Jr. High school: Charlotte (N.C.) Vance
Buzz: Edwards has 46 tackles and four pass breakups to go with two forced fumbles and an interception. He made a huge hit on Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen to force a fumble at Navy's 1 in the Middies' win over the Irish.
FS Kyle McCarthy, Notre Dame
Particulars: 6-1/210, Sr. High school: Youngstown (Ohio) Cardinal Mooney
Buzz: McCarthy recorded a team-high 101 tackles - marking his second consecutive 100-tackle season - and picked off five passes. He is the only Notre Dame defensive back ever to deliver 100 tackles in a season. He picked off two passes against Boston College, made a game-saving interception against Michigan State and had a game-clinching pass breakup in overtime against Washington.
SS Wyatt Middleton, Navy
Particulars: 6-2/208, Jr. High school: Atlanta Marist
Buzz: Middleton has made 33 consecutive starts, which represents the longest streak of anyone on his team. He has 61 tackles, three interceptions, five pass breakups and two fumble recoveries this season. He picked off two passes against Temple and recovered a fumble at Navy's 1 against Notre Dame.
ALL-INDEPENDENT SPECIAL TEAMS
K Alex Carlton, Army
Particulars: 6-0/186, Soph. High school: Newark (Del.) High
Buzz: Carlton is 17-of-21 on field-goal attempts and 13-of-13 on extra points. He has gone 6-for-7 from at least 40 yards, including a season long of 51 against Vanderbilt. He also made a game-winning kick from 42 yards in overtime against Vandy.
Particulars: 6-1/207, Jr. High school: Sierra Madre (Calif.) Maranatha
Buzz: Delahooke has averaged 43.5 yards per punt to rank 19th in the nation while helping Navy place 16th in the nation in net punting. He is on pace for the third-highest single-season punting average in school history. His current career average of 42.6 yards per punt is the best in school history. Delahooke has placed 16 of his 45 punts inside the opponent's 20-yard line while producing just four touchbacks.
KR Theo Riddick, Notre Dame
Particulars: 5-10/195, Fr. High school: Somerville (N.J.) Immaculata
Buzz: Riddick returned 37 kickoffs and averaged 22.9 yards per attempt. He had more than 100 yards in kickoff returns against Michigan State, Washington, Navy and Stanford.
PR Golden Tate, Notre Dame
Particulars: 5-11/195, Jr. High school: Hendersonville (Tenn.) Pope John Paul II
Buzz: Tate only returned 12 punts, but he averaged 14.2 yards per attempt, which would have ranked him among the top 15 in the nation if he had enough returns to qualify. Tate scored on an 87-yard return against Pittsburgh.

Steve Megargee is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at smegargee@rivals.com.



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