Irish No. 21 in Steele's forecast

Surprisingly (OK, maybe not), Notre Dame did not land as many players on Phil Steele's preseason All-American team as it did on his preseason all-independent team.

The Irish did get two, however, as Tyler Eifert and Manti Te'o are among Steele's preseason first-team All-Americans. (Steele had 20 Irish players on his preseason all-independent team.)

Steele has been counting down a new school in his preseason top 40 each day, and on Thursday he revealed Notre Dame as his preseason No. 21 team, putting the Irish one spot ahead of Michigan.

Among the highlights of his 2012 forecast for the Irish.

  • Steele expects the best production from the quarterback position in the three-year Brian Kelly era, regardless of who starts.

  • He thinks the linebacking corp should be one of the best in the nation.

  • He sees a win improvement from the previous two 8-5 campaigns, despite the challenging schedule.