College football guru Phil Steele has been sharing some features from his preseason magazine on ESPN.com lately, including position group rankings. And Notre Dame fans will be happy to learn that Steele ranks the Irish tops among all defensive line groups in the nation.
What's more impressive is that Steele says he puts more value into offensive and defensive lines than other position groups since the line of scrimmage is where a majority of games are won. They mark the areas that the SEC has dominated in winning the last seven national titles. And, surprisingly enough, only one SEC team cracks the top five of Steele's D-line rankings, with South Carolina coming in at No. 3. (The Gamecocks have a fairly popular end you folks may have heard of.)
With five of the top six players back from a line that helped the program ascend to No. 2 in the nation in scoring defense last season, the Irish have two future top-15 picks, according to Steele, in Stephon Tuitt and Louis Nix, with Steele referring to Nix as the best defensive tackle in the country.
To read the full rankings and analysis, which runs 15-deep and features some familiar opponents and former players, click here.