Five Notre Dame players named to preseason All-American Team
Phil Steele released his annual preseason All-American team on Monday, and five Notre Dame players made the cut.
Three Irish standouts — offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley, linebacker Jaylon Smith and free safety Max Redfield — received first team honors. Senior defensive tackle Sheldon Day appeared on the third team, while returning cornerback KeiVarae Russell made the fourth team.
Stanley — a 6-foot-5, 315-pound senior — has started 26 consecutive games at Notre Dame, the last 13 coming at the left tackle spot. The Las Vegas native, who chose to return for his final season at South Bend, is being projected as a top pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.
Smith, meanwhile, will face a similar predicament following the 2015 season. The 6-2, 235-pound junior linebacker has started all 26 games of his Irish career, producing 179 tackles and 15.5 tackles for loss during that span. A Fort Wayne native, Smith was named a Second Team All-American by the Associated Press following the 2014 season.
On the back end of Notre Dame's defense, Redfield ascended this spring, reaching some of the potential that the explosive five-star prospect brought with him to South Bend. A 6-1, 198-pound junior safety, Redfield has started 12 games and made 80 tackles in his first two seasons, but the best may be yet to come.
Day and Russell, both seniors, should bring strong leadership to Notre Dame's defense this fall. In 11 games last season, Day — a 6-2, 285-pound defensive tackle — reached career highs in tackles (40) and tackles for loss (7.5). Russell, who missed the 2014 season with an academic suspension, has started all 26 games of his Notre Dame career at cornerback.