Who are the top Notre Dame players from the Cincinnati area? How about these 10?

Tom Noie
ND Insider
Cincinnati has long been considered a big Notre Dame town.

Skyline or Gold Star? Mount Adams or Mount Lookout? Is there really a wrong answer? Or right one?

With No. 7 Cincinnati making its first visit to Notre Dame Stadium since 1900 for Saturday’s game against No. 9 Notre Dame, it sounds like a good time to look back on some of the Irish greats to come from the Queen City. 

Cincinnati and its surrounding areas – a short drive up Interstate 75 through southeast Ohio, or south over the Ohio River in Kentucky - has been good to Notre Dame football throughout the years. And you can’t connect Cincinnati and Notre Dame and football without mentioning former Irish coach Gerry Faust, who built Moeller into a prep power before taking the Notre Dame job in 1981. 

Consider Faust mentioned. 

Last time we did an all-city Irish team, we kept it to Chicago natives only. No surrounding area. No suburbs. For this one, we expanded the area a bit to include neighboring Butler County and over the Ohio in Kentucky. Why? Why not? Cincinnati’s airport is actually located IN Kentucky, so we can bend the rules a little bit, right? 

Here’s our top 10. Players are listed alphabetically with the college positions in parentheses.  

Rocky Boiman was a high school safety who found a home at linebacker during his Notre Dame career.

OLB ROCKY BOIMAN 

A coveted recruit and converted high school defensive back, the two-year starter finished with 144 total tackles and 8.5 sacks. He was a captain his senior season. 

Former Notre Dame linebacker Bob Crable just made tackles - a lot of them - during his college career.

LB BOB CRABLE 

Find the football and you’d likely find Crable, a two-time All-American who still holds school records for tackles in a season (187) and in a game (26). He made 521 of them during his standout collegiate career. 

Former Notre Dame fullback Marc Edwards was a throwback kind of a player who found a home in coach Lou Holtz's offense.

FB MARC EDWARDS 

A fullback’s fullback and former Mr. Football in Ohio, the Norwood native was a throwback to a different era during his playing days. He rushed for 1,591 career yards and 27 touchdowns.  

DB D’JUAN FRANCISCO 

A converted running back, Francisco was a safety his final three years at Norre Dame, which included the 1988 national championship, where he was the nickel back. He was recruited by former Irish coach Gerry Faust, as was Francisco’s older brother, Hiawatha. 

Cincinnati native Tony Hunter played three positions at Notre Dame and became a first-round NFL draft pick.

TE TONY HUNTER 

He came to Notre Dame a wide receiver and also played running back before moving to tight end his senior year. Hunter caught 120 passes for 1,897 yards and five touchdowns in 41 career games. The Moeller High School product was a first round NFL draft choice (12th overall) of the Buffalo Bills. 

LB MIKE LARKIN 

A coveted tackler out of Moeller, Larkin looked like he’d be one of the best to ever wear an Irish uniform after he made 110 tackles as a sophomore. His career was slowed by arm and knee injuries, though Larkin did serve as a team captain on a 1985 Notre Dame team that beat LSU, USC and Penn State. 

TE MICHAEL MAYER 

Yeah, he may be from Independence, Ky., and not even halfway through his sophomore season, but the guy’s a future pro. Might as well just add him to the list now. He could be the best of the bunch, at least on the offensive side. 

Former Notre Dame defensive lineman Steve Niehaus was a one-man wrecking crew during his college days.

DT STEVE NIEHAUS 

A one-man wrecking crew, Niehaus made 95 tackles in 1974 and finished 12th in the Heisman Trophy vote in 1975. He made 290 tackles in his career and was the No. 2 overall pick of the Seattle Seahawks in the1976 NFL draft. 

TE KYLE RUDOLPH

The guy already was one of the program's premier tight ends after only two years of game action, where he caught 62 passes for 704 yards and five scores. A hamstring injury limited him to six games in 2010 – his last season – when he caught 28 for 328 and three scores. He might've been the best at self-proclaimed Tight End U. had he stayed healthy. He still caught 90 passes for 1,032 yards and eight scores.

DB MIKE TOWNSEND 

A native of Hamilton just north of the city, Townsend had a school-record 10 interceptions in 1972 and was a 1973 All-American. He also walked on to the Irish men’s basketball team. 

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