It is common knowledge among Notre Dame fans that Irish defenses of the last 10 years have been mediocre at best.
Defense was never a true priority to Charlie Weis, so the recruiting of defensive players suffered.
However, Weis was able to bring in 5-star linebacker Manti Te'o, the biggest defensive recruit to sign with Notre Dame since the Lou Holtz era.
Brian Kelly has certainly made building a strong defense priority number one.
He got off to a great start to that project by signing three of the nation's top defensive recruits in the 2011 cycle.
The signing of those players was surely aided by the strong play of the defense in the last four games of 2010 in which the defense yielded only 40 points.
Nine of the 11 starters from that defense return this season in what should be a BCS bowl season for the Irish.
Follow along as we count down the five most important players on Bob Diaco's defense.