USC football’s claim to the most NFL Draft picks in history was threatened, but the Trojans held off Notre Dame.
USC football came into the 2020 NFL Draft with a record of 509 selections and 81 first-rounders.
After seeing Austin Jackson and Michael Pittman taken on Day 1 and Day 2, they left with 511 all-time picks and 82 first-rounders.
The latter resulted in Ohio State taking control of the all-time record.
The former left the Trojans clinging to their supremacy atop historic draft totals.
Notre Dame had six players selected from Thursday to Saturday, boosting their all-time number from 504 to 510.
UPDATE: Notre Dame recounted their total, according to Ryan Kartje of the LA Times, and has now concluded they hit 511 all-time draft picks, tying USC.
If you’re interested in a history lesson, USC holds some major advantages over Notre Dame when it comes to the discussion of NFL draft production.
Sure, the Irish have almost caught up to the Trojans in total “draft picks,” but those totals are a mirage at best.
During the 1940s and 1950s, the concept of a “draft pick” wasn’t complicated simply by the presence of the AFL drafting parallel to the NFL. It was also commonplace for players to be selected without ever heading to the pros, sticking around for another season only to be picked again the next year.
That’s why Notre Dame’s figure of 510 picks is misleading. Yes, they have seen that many selections, but more than a handful of those are doubles.
George Connor is the most egregious of those.
He was an All-American at Holy Cross who was drafted in 1945 and 1946, but he didn’t enroll at Notre Dame until 1946. He lettered in 1946 and 1947, then entered the NFL without being drafted a third time.
The rest do warrant recognition by Notre Dame, but the counts create issues.
Halfback John Creevey lettered in 1942, left for the military and was drafted by the Rams and Bears in 1944 and 1945 respectively. He returned to play for Notre Dame in 1946. He counts twice.
Lineman Bill Fischer was drafted in 1948 but returned to school and became a first-round pick in 1949. He counts twice.
Tackle Sam Palumbo was drafted in 1954 and also put in one more season with the Irish before again commanding a pick in 1955. He counts twice.
End Bob Skoglund was drafted in 1946, returned to school, and landed with the Packers in the 13th round in 1947. He counts twice.
John Fallon lettered at Notre Dame from 1944 through 1946, then was drafted in 1947 and 1948 before coming back for another season with the Irish in 1948. He counts twice.
Bob Livingstone played for Notre Dame in 1941 and 1942, left for the Army, and was drafted after his service concluded in 1945. He didn’t go to the pros though. He returned to Notre Dame and graduated in 1948. He ended up playing for the Baltimore Colts in 1950, but when the franchise folded all of their players were entered into the 1951 draft. Thus, he became another double pick on Notre Dame’s list.
Bob Palladino played for the Irish in 1943, departing for military service in the Navy. He was drafted in 1946 and again in 1947, but neither selection resulted in his entrance into the pros. Instead, he transferred to Boston College, where he graduated in 1950. Both of his selections are on Notre Dame’s list.
Notre Dame isn’t alone in doing this. USC itself includes a double-count in Bob Hoffman, who was drafted in 1939 before he was eligible to go to the NFL. He was drafted again in 1940. Both selections are included in the Trojans’ 511.
It’s cheap inflation on both sides.
Instead, USC should tout the number of players they have had drafted in the NFL because it’s just as impressive at 510.
Notre Dame, meanwhile, with their six new additions in 2020, can claim 503, an impressive second.
Funnily enough, there are two legitimate doubles for the Irish. Bob Williams and Bob Williams, both quarterbacks drafted by the Chicago Bears in 1951 and 1959 respectively, were indeed two different men who played for Notre Dame.
It’s easier to differentiate the Terry Brennan who was drafted as a tackle in 1970 from the Terry Brennan who was drafted as a back in 1949.
However you slice it, USC and Notre Dame have produced a ton of pro talent. But if an Irish fan tries to sell you on the idea that they’ve produced more, now you know better.