Notre Dame Football: Arnaz Battle

Expect a little more purple and gold than usual on the Notre Dame campus this fall.

Robert Blanton became the latest in the Irish-to-Vikings pipeline Saturday, going to Minnesota in the fifth round (139th overall) one day after the franchise drafted the cornerback's teammate from Notre Dame's defensive backfield, Harrison Smith.

Minnesota now has five former Irish players on its roster: Blanton, Smith, Kyle Rudolph, John Carlson and John Sullivan.

Darius Fleming was drafted a round later (165th overall) by the 49ers, who made Fleming the first Notre Dame linebacker drafted since 2004, when the Saints took Courtney Watson. San Francisco had not drafted a Notre Dame player since taking Arnaz Battle in the sixth round in 2003.

Several former Irish players signed free-agent deals with NFL teams -- defensive end Ethan Johnson with the Chiefs, running back Jonas Gray with the Dolphins and offensive tackle Taylor Dever with the Cowboys. Guard Trevor Robinson posted on Twitter on Sunday that he signed with the Bengals.

Will ND throw an NFL pass this year?

December, 23, 2011
12/23/11
2:45
PM ET
Darren Everson brings an interesting question in today's Wall Street Journal: Will a former Notre Dame player throw a pass in an NFL game this year?

Why ask, you ask? Simply, because it has happened in every single NFL season since 1944, the longest streak of any school.
With two weeks left this season, no Notre Dame alum has thrown a pass yet. Ex-Notre Dame stars Jimmy Clausen and Brady Quinn, who have both been NFL starters, are now both stuck on the sideline. Their chances from here on aren't great: Clausen is third on the Panthers' depth chart, and Quinn's Broncos are gunning for the playoffs and thus are unlikely to sit their starters.

Everson also notes that from 2004-06 — years in which no Irish quarterback threw an NFL pass — non-QBs Jerome Bettis, Hunter Smith, Arnaz Battle and Carlyle Holiday threw passes, leaving room for optimism with two weeks left in the NFL regular season.

Oregon is second in consecutive years with an alumnus throwing a pass in the NFL, extending its streak to 63 years this season.

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