Few brands in college sports are as iconic as Notre Dame football. Because of that, the expectations are high — setting the scene for grandiose gridiron heroism or soul-crushing disappointment.
It’s South Bend’s lure to recruits figuring out whether or not they want that level of challenge in their collegiate careers.
Recruits must know, though, thriving on the Fighting Irish and failing to match that production in the NFL is a worst-case scenario that will play out in front of a national audience. It’s one of the few pitfalls of having an exclusive TV deal with NBC.
Here are the biggest 10 Notre Dame football NFL draft busts of all time
No. 10 biggest Notre Dame football NFL Draft bust of all time: Ken MacAfee
1978 NFL Draft: Round 1, Pick 7
San Francisco 49ers, 1978-1979
Ken MacAfee grew up in the suburbs of Boston and dominated at the high school level at Brockton High School, winning two consecutive state titles in his junior and senior years. MacAfee then thrived in South Bend, amassing 128 receptions for 1,759 yards and 15 TDs over his four-year career as a receiver and tight end.
While the switch to the tight end position did wonders for MacAfee’s college career, another position switch undid his NFL career. Then-49ers coach Bill Walsh switched him to the offensive line following his second pro season in 1979, and instead of sticking with San Francisco, MacAfee left the sport altogether.
While it wasn’t fully his fault, MacAfee’s disappointing end to his career ultimately made him a draft bust considering his selection with the No. 7 draft pick in 1978.