Notre Dame 2012 Top 25 countdown: No. 11

No. 11 on our countdown overcame quite a bit of preseason adversity to start and thrive for the Irish this past season.

No. 11: Danny Spond, LB

Making the case: On Aug. 8, Spond's body went numb during practice. His speech was slurred. His father, Don, joined him in South Bend, Ind., to drive him to see a neurologist at Michigan. What was at one point feared to be a stroke turned out to be a severe migraine, something medication was able to control. Spond was able to return for Notre Dame's Sept. 15 win at Michigan State, which he started, and he was on the first-team ever since, starting the Irish's final 11 games at dog linebacker. He finished 2012 with 39 total tackles, one tackle for loss, one interception, three pass break-ups and four passes defended, and the junior proved to be an integral part of the nation's No. 2 scoring defense.

Preseason ranking: NR

The countdown

No. 12 T.J. Jones, WR

No. 13 Everett Golson, QB

No. 14 Cierre Wood, RB

No. 15 Bennett Jackson, CB

No. 16 Tommy Rees, QB

No. 17 DaVaris Daniels, WR

No. 18 Chris Watt, LG

No. 19 George Atkinson III, RB

No. 20 Dan Fox, LB

No. 21 Matthias Farley, S

No. 22 KeiVarae Russell, CB

No. 23 Robby Toma, WR

No. 24 Kyle Brindza, K

No. 25 Chris Brown, WR