Notre Dame football all-time Lou Holtz team WR: Rocket Ismail
1991 NFL Draft: Round 4, Pick 100
Toronto Argonauts, 1991–1992
Los Angeles / Oakland Raiders, 1993–1995
Carolina Panthers, 1996–1998
Dallas Cowboys, 1999–2002
Rocket Ismail made one of the more shocking career moves during his time, signing with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League due to a historic offer ($18.2 million over four years) that the NFL couldn’t match at the time. Perhaps it’s not shocking to see a pro athlete take the bigger payday, but it is always an upset when a collegiate player ends up anywhere but the NFL.
Ismail would’ve been the top pick had he not ended up in Canada, but regardless, his legacy is secure as an All-American at Notre Dame who stuck around in pro football for 11 years after being drafted.
Notre Dame football all-time Lou Holtz team WR: Tim Brown
1988 NFL Draft: Round 1, Pick 6
Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders, 1988–2003
Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2004
Tim Brown was one of the few wideouts in the history of college football, and one of only three in the past 25 seasons, to have won the Heisman trophy. That in and of itself makes Brown one of the all-time greats at the position in the college ranks.
Brown just missed out on the Fighting Irish’s primary boom period under Holtz, but his individual greatness was undeniable during his time in South Bend despite the program’s down years from 1984 to 1987.
Notre Dame football all-time Lou Holtz team WR: Derrick Mayes
1996 NFL Draft: Round 2, Pick 56
Green Bay Packers, 1996–1998
Seattle Seahawks, 1999–2000
Kansas City Chiefs, 2001 (did not make team)
Derrick Mayes found himself at the right place at the right time frequently, having achieved the record for the most touchdown receptions in the history of Fighting Irish football program for 11 years. Mayes’ TD catch record would be broken in 2005 by MLB star pitcher Jeff Samardzija.
Mayes didn’t have the longest NFL career, having stuck in the league for five seasons and only having one standout season in 1999 in which the Indianapolis native scored 10 touchdowns. But his greatness during the 1994 and 1995 seasons solidified his standing in South Bend’s lore.