It's not very often that two college programs as storied as the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish clash in the last game of the season. Since the college game went to weekly polls, no team has won more National Championships than Alabama with their 9. Notre Dame sits alone in second place with 8. Of course, the fan bases and alumni of both schools are tremendous in both sheer numbers and unbridled passion, very similar to what we experience with Cowboys Nation.
As Cowboys fans, you might not have much interest in what the final score of tonight's game turns out to be. If you're interested in the NFL Draft season though, you most definitely will have an eye on the festivities.
The University of Alabama continuously floods the drafts early rounds with prospect after prospect. Nick Saban does an outstanding job in not only recruiting top talent, but also developing it. Notre Dame used to be the exact same talent factory, but fell on hard times over the last decade. This is changing under Brian Kelly, who was able to elicit premiere performance from players that did not excel under his predecessor.
So who should you have your eye on tonight? SB Nation has its own take on players to watch here.
Here's a who's who of potential draft targets for the Cowboys. I'm using NFLDraftScout.com's Prospect Rankings.
Notre Dame ILB Manti Te'o, Senior, 6'2", 255 lbs. #1 Rated Linebacker on most boards.
Te'o made his way to the Heisman Finals, which is no small feat for a defensive player in today's day and age. Great instincts and nose for the ball, passion oozes from this dude. Leader of top-ranked scoring defense, had 7 interceptions on the year. Was top LB coming out of high school, top linebacker in college... finish the story.
Alabama OG Chance Warmack, Senior, 6'2", 322 lbs. #1 Rated Guard Prospect on most boards
In one of the deepest guard drafts in years, Warmack is at the top of the list. He has a nasty streak that will undoubtedly forge him as a leader of the unit for years to come.
Alabama C Barrett Jones, Redshirt Senior, 6'4", 305 lbs. #1 Rated C
Jones has the versatility of playing up and down the line in his career before settling in at the center position. Rated as a end of first, second round prospect.
Alabama CB Dee Milliner, Junior, 6'1", 198 lbs. #1 Rated Cornerback
This year's Morris Claiborne/Patrick Peterson. The best corner in the draft with great read/react and he also packs a punch when he hits. His downgrade is that he doesn't have elite speed.
Alabama DT Jesse Williams, Senior, 6'3", 320 lbs. #4 Rated defensive lineman
Williams plays the nose when Alabama uses the 3-4 alignment, which should make him of major interest to 'Boys fans looking to replace Jay Ratliff. A JuCo transfer Williams only started playing football at the age of 15. He played the 5-technique as a junior, and was a rugby and basketball player in Australia. Versatility won't be an issue in Ryan's scheme.
Notre Dame TE Tyler Eifert, Redshirt Junior, 6'5", 252 lbs. #1 Rated Tight End
Eifert is fearless going across the middle with very good hands. Not the best blocker, and that's something that would have to be necessary for Dallas as they probably are moving on from John Phillips.
Alabama OT DJ Fluker, Redshirt Junior, 6'6", 335 lbs. #7 Rated Offensive Tackle
Alabama RB Eddie Lacy, Redshirt Junior, 5'10", 220 lbs. #2 Rated Running Back
Alabama SS Robert Lester, Senior, 6'2", 212 lbs. #2 Rated Strong Safety
Alabama ILB Nico Johnson, Senior, 6'2", 245 lbs. #5 Rated Inside Backer
Notre Dame C Braxston Cave, Redshirt Senior, 6'3", 305lbs, #4 Rated Center
Notre Dame FS Zeke Motta, Senior, 6'2", 215 lbs. #8 Rated Free Safety
Notre Dame DT Kapron Lewis-Moore, 6'4", 306 lbs. #16 Rated Defensive Tackle
Notre Dame RB Theo Riddick, Senior, 5'11" 200 lbs. $15 Rated Running Back
Also Draft Eligible
TE Michael Williams (9), DE Quinton Dial (35), LS Carson Tinker (1), FB Kelly Johnson (11), Jeremy Shelley (9), DE Damion Square (45)
RB Cierre Wood (20), SS Jamoris Slaughter (19), LS Jordan Cowart (2), K Nick Tausch (13)