Notre Dame football all-time Lou Holtz team C: Tim Grunhard
1990 NFL Draft: Round 2, Pick 40
Kansas City Chiefs, 1990–2000
Tim Grunhard spent a decade with the Kansas City Chiefs after being a part of Holtz’ first-ever Notre Dame recruiting class in 1986, and during the 1988 season, the Fighting Irish ran the table and became national champions.
As Grunhard shared in his 2022 book, “View from the Center: My Football Life and the Rebirth of Chiefs Kingdom,” Holtz let him and his recruiting classmates know where they stood in the legendary coach’s eyes.
“I just want to tell you guys one thing: If I had one more month of recruiting, none of your a–es would’ve been here,” Holtz told Grunhard and co. (h/t Notre Dame Insider).
Grunhard received the message loud and clear, delivering a championship-worthy performance at the center position just two years later.
Notre Dame football all-time Lou Holtz team OT: Andy Heck
1989 NFL Draft: Round 1, Pick 15
Seattle Seahawks, 1989–1993
Chicago Bears, 1994–1998
Washington Redskins, 1999–2000
Continuing with longtime members of the Kansas City Chiefs, current KC offensive line coach Andy Heck — who has been with the franchise for three Super Bowl appearances and two Super Bowl wins in the last decade — lasted 12 years in the league, splitting his first decade with the Seattle Seahawks and Chicago Bears before finishing up with Washington.
The Fairfax, Virginia native was a national champion who played his way into a top-15 selection in the 1989 draft. Heck, like Irv Smith, now has a son playing the same position in the NFL. Charlie Heck, unlike his father, played at UNC.
Notre Dame football all-time Lou Holtz team OT: Aaron Taylor
1994 NFL Draft: Round 1, Pick 16
Green Bay Packers, 1994–1997
San Diego Chargers, 1998–1999
Aaron Taylor won the Lombardi Award in 1993 as one of two offensive tackles since 1990, the other being Orlando Pace who won it twice, showing just how dominant the San Francisco native was during his time in South Bend.
Perhaps most known for his protection of Brett Favre during the Green Bay Packers’ Super Bowl XXXI run in 1997, Taylor helped Mirer and Betts become stars at their respective positions at Notre Dame, leading to all three being first-round draft picks in 1993 and 1994 in Taylor’s case.
Notre Dame football all-time Lou Holtz team OG: Lindsay Knapp
1993 NFL Draft: Round 5, Pick 130
Kansas City Chiefs, 1993–1994
Green Bay Packers, 1995–1996
Lindsay Knapp was a teammate of two other all-time Holtz team members: Grunhard with the Kansas City Chiefs and Taylor with the Green Bay Packers. While he was never the most standout lineman in the Fighting Irish offensive trenches, Knapp was a solid hand who also went a long way in boosting Bettis and Mirer.
Knapp didn’t have a long NFL career, leaving the sport entirely after four pro seasons to pursue a career in sales. Still, he was on some of Notre Dame’s greatest teams, making him a natural fit for this one.
Notre Dame football all-time Lou Holtz team OG: Tim Ryan
1991 NFL Draft: Round 5, Pick 136
Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1991–1993
Tim Ryan had an even shorter NFL career than Knapp, but Ryan was along the offensive line for Notre Dame for some of the greatest seasons of the Holtz era, including a championship campaign — earning a spot at a position that was never as well-developed in the program as the other two offensive line spots during that time period.
Even still, Ryan played the position well and came to South Bend as a celebrated athlete from the Kansas City metropolitan area, earning the Simone Award his senior season at Rockhurst High School.