Notre Dame Football: 15 best quarterbacks in Fighting Irish history

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Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Notre Dame Fighting Irish. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)


Bob Williams

QB, (1948-50)

Bob Williams is the first of many College Football Hall of Fame players to make this all-time list. The Towson, Maryland native first suited up for the Notre Dame varsity team in 1948, playing sparingly during his first year with the Golden Domers. That all changed in his second year with the program in 1949.

Williams finished fifth in Heisman Trophy voting in his first year as the Irish starting quarterback. He completed 56.5 percent of his passes for 1,374 yards, 16 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Notre Dame went a perfect 10-0 in 1949, winning a national championship under head coach Frank Leahy. Keep in mind that Williams was only 19-years-old during that special season for the Irish.

In what was his final year in South Bend, Williams again finished in the top 10 in Heisman Trophy voting. He placed sixth in 1950, as he completed 47.1 percent of his passes for 1,035 yards, 10 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Despite throwing more picks than scores, Williams was named an All-American for his efforts in the second consecutive season for Notre Dame.

In three years with the Irish, Williams completed 51.2 percent of his passes for 2,519 yards, 26 touchdowns and 24 interceptions. He would parlay his great collegiate career into being the No. 2 overall pick in the 1951 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears. Williams played with the Bears for three seasons over five years before hanging up the spikes.

While his numbers have been lost to time with the advent of more passing-centric offenses in the decades to follow, Williams will forever be remembered as a champion for the Irish. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in the Class of 1988, nearly 40 years since he last played in South Bend.

Even though it is 70 years since his sensational junior season of 1949, it remains one of the most efficient passing seasons in Notre Dame history. His passer efficiency rating of 161.4 is a school record for a season for a passer with at least 50 attempts; he had 147 that fall. Williams passed away at the age of 86 in 2016 after battling Parkinson’s disease in his native Maryland.

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