College football guru Phil Steele has been releasing his preseason All-America teams for each conference recently, and the independent one is, as usual, dominated by Notre Dame players.
It's not exactly a surprise -- Steele goes three teams deep off just seven schools that make up the independents. He usually goes four teams for actual conferences.
Let's take a look at the Irish honorees, team-by-team.
Second team: Everett Golson, Amir Carlisle, T.J. Jones and Christian Lombard, on offense; Sheldon Day, Jarrett Grace, KeiVarae Russell, and Matthias Farley on defense. Kyle Brindza is also the second-team kicker.
Notre Dame's 25 players across the 84 players on all three teams were the most among the independents. BYU had 14, Navy had 12, New Mexico State had 12, Old Dominion had 10, Army had seven and Idaho had four.
Obviously, this list was released before Golson was suspended from school for a semester, and before the recent uncertainty surrounding Vanderdoes' desire to actually go to Notre Dame.
The Irish's entire starting defense makes the teams, save for Carlo Calabrese, who has alternated at the Will linebacker spot at Notre Dame with Fox. It's definitely surprising to see Smith, a player who has not even enrolled yet, listed over a fifth-year senior with starting experience in Calabrese.
Throw Carlise or Atkinson in the slot, split Niklas or Koyack wide, and all the Irish are missing to fill out an entire offense on this team are two offensive linemen, or the same number of starters they are still seeking there after the graduations of center Braxston Cave and right guard Mike Golic Jr. (Nick Martin and Conor Hanratty were in position to fill those spots as recently as the end of spring.)
Also, I wonder if Tommy Rees would be on this list if Steele knew of the Golson news ahead of time, considering Golson is only listed as a second-teamer. Old Dominion's Taylor Heinicke is the first-team signal caller.