Brian Boulac enrolled at Notre Dame in 1959, on a Football Scholarship. He has been at Notre Dame, nearly continuously, until retiring last year. For more than 50 years he was involved with Notre Dame Football as a player, coach, recruiter, and administrator. He is probably more knowledgeable, from a first-hand basis, about Notre Dame players of the past six decades. Whenever Brian and I get together we talk about the great players from ND history. I like to ask Brian to compare players from one team to another. We like to talk about our favorite players and teams.
I have asked Brian who was Notre Dame’s best defensive back. I am partial to Luther Bradley. Luther has told me that Ara used to tell him that Clarence Ellis was the guy who set the standard. Brian says he would give Clarence a slight edge, because of his speed. After my recent conversation with Brian about these two, I decided to reach out to Clarence, who I have not seen in 40+ years. When Notre Dame hired me as Assistant Director of Admissions (1970) I immediately became a Big Brother, because of the recommendation of Tom Sullivan. Tom was an ND classmate and starting tackle on Ara’s 1965 team. A couple years later, I was the Director of Big Brothers. We needed a speaker for our annual dinner and I asked Clarence, who served as a Big Brother while he was a student at Notre Dame. He did a wonderful job.
Ellis was a consensus All American in 1971. The talk he gave included anecdotes about the recent Cotton Bowl game when helped Notre Dame defeat the unbeaten Texas Longhorns. Ellis later played for the Atlanta Falcons and makes his home there now.
When I dropped Clarence a note, I told him about Boulac and me arguing over who was our best ND defensive back. I also thanked Clarence for his wonderful talk. This is part of the reply I received from him. I pass this along so you can see the humility of this great player and also because of how proud I am that he still has maintained contact with the person assigned to him in the Big Brother program 40 years ago:
I thank you so much for your kind words. It is an honor to be mentioned with someone like LB, and it was an honor when I first met him………….Those years are such a blur now………..I was just talking with Jimmy, my little Brother, just last night………………I pray you and yours a Blessed and a Merry Christmas!
Thank u again
By the way, Luther is also a class act and a very humble person. I am very proud to have made the friendship of these wonderful Notre Dame men. Merry Christmas and Go Irish!