There is a website rating ND's 100 greatest players...
Every few days, their “expert” picks five more guys.
Here’s #62. I have a connection to this fine young man. When he decided to walk on for Football, he lost his Soccer Grant in Aid. He needed a campus job. He came to me at the Notre Dame Security Police Department. I hired him as a Ticket Writer. Little did I know that he would eventually be a unanimous All American. We always talked a little football before I sent him out on the campus to write parking tickets.
There’s also a humorous story about how Shane got his chance to walk on for football. When our soccer coach recruited him, he told me that Shane was the finest soccer player ND had ever had, but that we had to promise Shane that we would recommend him to Bob Davie as a walk on. Keeping his word, our coach handed Shane’s high school football video to Bob Davie. Bob gave it to one of his assistants. It gathered dust in one of the coaching offices. One day, Offensive Coordinator Jim Colletto was studying film (he was a film fanatic) and he picked up an unlabeled container which contained Shane’s highlights, with no additional information. Colletto loved what he saw of Shane, but didn’t know who he was or who he played for. He was able to identify the uniform of the opposing team on one of the highlights, so he called that coach and asked him about the defensive back, wearing number such and such, against his team. The coach remembered Shane and gave Colletto the phone number of Shane’s high school coach. Colletto called him and said “Whatever happened to Shane Walton?” The coach replied, “He playing soccer on YOUR campus”!
#62: Shane Walton – Cornerback – 2000-2002
Unanimous All-American (2002)
2002: 68 tackles, 7 interceptions for 84 yards, 2 TDs
Our next unanimous All-American on the list, Shane Walton’s story is pretty well known among Notre Dame fans. The leading scorer on the soccer team as a freshman in 1998, he made the switch to football the next year as a walk on.
A three-year starter at cornerback, Walton might be best known as captain of the 2002 team that saw the Irish win 10 games for the first time since 1993. It was an odd season fueled by defensive scores and turnovers, several of which were generated by Walton. Much in the same way Manti Te’o was the impetus of 2012’s success, Shane Walton got that 2002 team to its 8-0 start and 10-win finish.
The season began with a 22-0 victory over Maryland, in which Walton intercepted three passes. The Irish went to 3-0 a couple weeks later after beating #7 Michigan 25-23. The Wolverines missed a late two-point conversion to tie after Walton batted down the pass, and he sealed the game with an interception with 21 seconds to go. At the end of the season, Walton finished with seven interceptions, two of them for touchdowns.
After being exposed in bad losses to Boston College, USC, and NC State, that team dropped to 17th in the polls. I think it’s actually a testament to Walton that he was able to carry such a flawed team for so long, with big wins over Michigan (#9 in final ranking) and Florida State (#21).