Notre Dame's top players: 11-15

Notre Dame's top players: 11-15
August 7, 2014, 4:30 pm
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Inside the Irish -- Counting down the Irish: Others receiving votes
Inside the Irish -- Counting down the Irish: 25-21Inside the Irish -- Counting down the Irish: 16-20

Over at Inside the Irish, Keith Arnold rolled out the latest installment of his annual top 25 Notre Dame players countdown with Nos. 11-15. Here's how the panel voted:

No. 15 OL Christian Lombard
No. 14 DB Cody Riggs
No. 13 K/P Kyle Brindza
No. 12 S Max Redfield
No. 11 OL Steve Elmer

My ballot:

No. 15 WR Corey Robinson
No. 14 DB Cody Riggs
No. 13 LB Jarrett Grace
No. 12 TE Ben Koyack
No. 11 RB Tarean Folston

First thought

Coach Brian Kelly generally shies away from adding graduate transfers, but he saw Cody Riggs as a perfect fit coming from Florida. Riggs adds not only loads of experience to the secondary, but experience gained in the best conference in college football.

"He has the same will I have, constantly working on his craft," cornerback KeiVarae Russell said. "It’s attack mentality. He has that too. Playing in the SEC you can tell -- they’re aggressive, (tenacious) and you see that in this guy. He zones in and zeroes in and just wants to make plays on the ball."

[MORE: Notre Dame's top players, 21-25]

Riggs' role is still to-be-determined, though he'll play an important one on Notre Dame's defense whether it's as a nickel guy, backup cornerback or starter alongside Russell.

Upon further review

Kyle Brindza was a major oversight on my part. Leaving him off my ballot entirely wasn't intentional, for the record, and it probably knocked him down a few spots in the overall rankings.

[MORE: Notre Dame's top players, 16-20]

Brindza certainly is a top-15 player for Notre Dame, given the late-game consistency he brings as a placekicker and his ability to handle punting and kickoff duties as well. At Monday's preseason-opening practice, Brindza clearly out-punted freshman Tyler Newsome -- and while it's just one day of practice, don't be surprised if Brindza keeps his jack-of-all-trades role on Notre Dame's special teams unit this fall.

Breakout candidate

We saw flashes of potential from Corey Robinson a year ago, whether it was terrorizing opposing cornerbacks on deep routes or drawing about 85 pass interference calls* against Michigan State. At 6-foot-4 with elite athleticism, Robinson looked primed to become one of Notre Dame's top targets this fall.

[MORE: Navy series remains important to Notre Dame]

The key for Robinson is having a greater understanding of Notre Dame's route concepts, which he said was an area of focus for him during spring practice. DaVaris Daniels' absence from the team in March and April may have been a blessing in disguise, as Robinson said it forced him to become a go-to guy when fellow youngsters like Justin Brent or Torii Hunter Jr. had a question about a certain route.

Robinson has all the physical tools and intangibles to become a top wide receiver -- and if he can do it in his sophomore season, Notre Dame's offense could be in pretty good shape.

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