Feb. 11, 2004
Notre Dame, Ind. – Eight former Irish football players are invited to the 2004 National Football League Combine schedule for February 28-March 4, at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis. Receiving invitations are DT Darrell Campbell, CB Vontez Duff, FS Glenn Earl, NG Cedric Hilliard, RB Julius Jones, OT Jim Molinaro, K/P Nicholas Setta and ILB Courtney Watson.
Campbell, from South Holland, Ill., was the leader of the Notre Dame defensive line in 2003, recording 25 tackles, 6.5 for loss and three sacks. For his career, the 6-4, 300-pounder finished with 87 tackles, including 23 for loss and 11 sacks. A team captain, Campbell was the 2003 winner of the Nick Pietrosante Award presented each year to the Notre Dame player who best exemplifies the courage, loyalty, teamwork, dedication and pride of the late Irish All-America fullback Nick Pietrosante. Campbell, who played in the 2004 Senior Bowl, graduated in December with degrees in English and computer applications.
Duff was a third-team Associated Press All-American in 2002, and led the Irish secondary in 2003. The native of Copperas Cove, Texas, finished the year with 33 tackles, two interceptions, four pass breakups and two fumble recoveries. A team captain, he also was one of Notre Dame’s leading special teams players, finishing his career with the all-time record for number of kicks returned (120), while ranking third on the all-time Notre Dame total kick return list with 1,955 yards and fourth in all-time kickoff return yards at 1,230. Duff, who played in the East-West Shrine Game, is a sociology major in the College of Arts and Letters.
Earl, from Lisle, Ill., finished his career with 169 tackles, including 109 solos. He also had 9.5 tackles for loss, a forced fumble, five fumble recoveries and four interceptions during his four years with the Irish. A 2003 Jim Thorpe Award nominee, Earl was known as one of the hardest hitters in all of college football. Coming into his senior season, he was listed 19th among free safeties by Lindy’s and 14th by The Sporting News. Through six games in 2003, he had 35 tackles before his season was cut short due to a knee injury against USC. He also was a key special teams player, blocking an Air Force field goal with no time remaining in 2000 that ultimately sent the Irish to the Fiesta Bowl.
Hilliard was a 2003 pre-season All-American and ranked sixth nationally among defensive linemen. The Arlington, Texas, product finished his career with 87 total tackles including 15.5 for loss and four sacks. He was named the 2003 Notre Dame Lineman of the Year and won Irish most valuable player honors at the 2003 Gator Bowl. A sociology major, Hilliard graduated last May from the College of Arts and Letters and is enrolled in graduate school. He played in the 2004 Gridiron Classic.
Jones, from Big Stone Gap, Va., finished his career ranked fourth on the Notre Dame all-time rushing list with 3,018 yards and tied for fourth on the single-season rushing list with 1,268 yards this year. He was one of only two players nationally to rush for 200 or more yards in three or more games this season and set the Notre Dame single-game rushing record with 262 yards against Pittsburgh. He averaged 5.5 yards per carry in 2003 and scored 10 touchdowns, finishing his career with 29. He also became Notre Dame’s all-time kick returner, finishing his career with 1,660 yards. Jones was the leading rusher for his team at the 2004 Senior Bowl and won the 2004 College Football All-Star Skills Challenge with partner Rod Rutherford of Pittsburgh. The senior will graduate from Notre Dame with a degree in sociology.
Molinaro, who won the Guardians Life Insurance Guardian of the Year Award as the top offensive lineman, was the leader of Notre Dame’s young offensive line that featured four new starters. The senior from Bethlehem, Pa., started all 12 games and played the second-most minutes of anyone on the offensive line in ’03, helping lead the way for Jones’ record-breaking season. A team captain, Molinaro graduated with a triple major in economics, sociology and computer applications in Mendoza College of Business.
From Lockport, Ill., Setta would have finished his career as the most decorated kicker in Notre Dame history until an injury against Pittsburgh ended his season abruptly. The four-year started made 46 of 66 field goals and 104 of 105 PATs in his tenure. A three-time Ray Guy Award Watch List nominee and two-time semifinalist, Setta led the team in scoring his first three season and finished his career second on the all-time field goals made and attempted lists and third in career points. He set a Notre Dame record by kicking a field goal in 16 straight regular-season games and had two games where he kicked five field goals in a game. As a senior, he also punted, averaging 40.8 yards on 30 kicks. Setta will graduate from Notre Dame with a degree in marketing in May.
Watson, from Sarasota, Fla., finished his career with 284 tackles including 38.5 for loss and six interceptions (including two for TDs) and 13 pass breakups. A 2002 All-American and Butkus Award finalist as the nation’s best linebacker, Watson averaged 10.7 tackles a game and posted 10 or more tackles in eight of 10 games as a senior. For his career, he had 15 games with 10+ tackles, including a career-high 18 in his first start against Nebraska in 2001. Ranked fourth nationally by both Lindy’s and The Sporting News amongst inside linebackers, Watson also was a force off the field as he was one of 11 players nationally named to the 2003 American Football Coaches Association Good Works team. Watson also started Notre Dame’s largest community service project called Tackle the Arts in which the football team introduces children to the areas of reading, writing, drawing and playing music. Watson, who played in the Senior Bowl, graduated from Notre Dame last May with a degree in marketing and is enrolled in graduate studies.