Notre Dame finalizes roster for Japan Bowl

Published 8:10 am Wednesday, July 15, 2009

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – The final roster of 57 players who take part in the Notre Dame Japan Bowl in the Tokyo Dome against Team Japan on Saturday has been confirmed.
There are five former Irish team captains on the Notre Dame Football Legends roster, including 1988 national championship quarterback Tony Rice, defensive tackle Melvin Dansby, and linebackers Bobbie Howard, Brandon Hoyte and Mike Goolsby.
The oldest player on the roster is wide receiver Kris Haines, who will celebrate his 52nd birthday two days before he lines up for on the football field again. Haines was Notre Dame’s leading pass receiver with 32 catches for 699 receiving yards in ’78; most of those coming from all-star quarterback Joe Montana. He caught the game-winning touchdown from Montana as time ran out in the ’79 Cotton Bowl vs. Houston (for 35-34 win), capping an amazing comeback after the Irish trailed by 22 points with 12 minutes remaining.
The team’s youngest player at 23-years-old, Thomas Bemenderfer, is an offensive guard who was one of four walk-ons who received a scholarship prior to the ’07 season. He played in all 12 regular-season games, as well as the Hawaii Bowl at center and guard in ’08. He currently lives in Mishawaka, Ind., and plans to attend Indiana University School of Medicine this fall.
Among the captains, Rice was the starting quarterback on Notre Dame’s 1988 national championship team and finished fourth in balloting for the Heisman Trophy as senior in ’89.  He won the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award in ’89 as the top quarterback in the country and was the College Player of the Year and a first-team All-America quarterback in ’89.  One of three senior captains of the ’89 Notre Dame team, he had a 28-3 record as starting quarterback from 1987 through ’89.
Dansby was one of three captains of Notre Dame’s 1997 football squad that qualified for the Independence Bowl. A standout on the Notre Dame defensive line, recording 201 tackles in his career and starting in 1996 and ’97 campaigns, he was the winner of the 1997 Nick Pietrosante Award (by vote of players) as the Irish player who best exemplified characteristics of late Notre Dame All-America fullback. He played in 41 regular-season games in his Irish career. He now lives in Marietta, Ga., where he is the technical sales consultant for AT&T Wholesale Markets.
Howard was one of three Notre Dame football captains as senior in 1998.  He led the team in ’98 with 118 tackles and started 21 games during his four-year career, playing as a regular at inside linebacker in ’97 and ’98. He was the winner of the 1998 Nick Pietrosante Award. He received Notre Dame Club of St. Joseph Valley Rockne Student-Athlete Award in both ’97 and ’98.  He currently resides in Chicago, Ill., where he is a partnership specialist with the United States Census Bureau