Is back as the starting middle linebacker for the Irish in ?03 ? is a leading candidate for many postseason honors including the Butkus Award, given to the nation?s most outstanding linebacker and the Bronko Nagurski Award given to the nation?s best defensive player ? named a preseason first-team All-American by Athlon ? also on the Butkus, Nagurski preseason watch list ? earned first-team All-America honors in ?02 from ESPN.com and a third-team accolades from The Sporting News and Associated Press ? one of three finalists for the Butkus Award, given to the nation?s outstanding linebacker in ?02 ? has become the leader of the Irish defense is in his third season as starting middle backer ? a three-time monogram winner for the Irish ? has tremendous confidence and good awareness on the field.
AS A SENIOR: Starting inside linebacker for Irish in 2002 ? led team with 90 tackles in only 10 games ? named a first-team All-American by ESPN.com and a third-teamer by The Sporting News and Associated Press ? preseason honorable mention All-American by Street & Smith?s ? ranked as the 17th best middle linebacker nationally by The Sporting News ? served as a game captain vs. Michigan State, Florida State, Navy and Rutgers ? played in 249:02 minutes for the Irish ? part of linebacker corps that helped hold Michigan to under 100 yards rushing for the first time in ?02 ? in first appearance of the season, led the team in tackles vs. Michigan with nine tackles ? led team in tackles vs. Michigan State with 15 tackles, including 12 solos and the first two sacks of the season for a total loss of 19 yards ? also broke up a pass vs. Michigan State ? recorded second career interception return for a touchdown vs. Stanford, a 34-yard interception return that opened the flood gates against the Cardinal in the third quarter ? also recorded a team-high 11 tackles vs. Stanford ? led team with nine tackles vs. Pittsburgh ? second on team in tackles vs. Air Force with nine ? helped Irish defense hold Air Force, which was ranked #1 in rushing offense in the nation, to 104 yards rushing, its lowest rushing total of the season ? recorded 10 tackles and made second interception this season (21-yard return) vs. Florida State ? helped Notre Dame defense hold Florida State to 93 yards rushing, its lowest rushing total of the season ?posted six tackles vs. Boston College ? made 30th career appearance for Irish vs. Navy ? led team with 12 tackles vs. Navy, including one sack for a loss of eight yards ? also sealed the win vs. Navy by making third interception this season (eight-yard return) with 0:31 remaining in the fourth quarter ? recorded two tackles and broke up a pass vs. Rutgers ? had a 60-yard interception return vs. USC, his fourth interception in ?02 to go with seven tackles.
AS A JUNIOR: Won starting inside linebacker job for 2001 ... second on the team in tackles with 76 ? led Irish with a career-high 18 tackles vs. Nebraska ? named ABC/Chevrolet Most Valuable Player for Notre Dame vs. Nebraska ? followed that performance in leading Irish with 10 tackles, including a sack vs. Michigan State ? recorded 10 tackles vs. Texas A&M, his third straight game in double digits ? had first career fumble recovery vs. Pittsburgh ? recorded five tackles including one for a loss of two yards vs. West Virginia ? made five tackles vs. Boston College ? had 13 tackles for loss this season ? recorded eight tackles, one sack, and a 33-yard interception return, the first of his career, for a touchdown vs. Tennessee ? recorded six tackles, including one for a loss vs. Navy.
AS A SOPHOMORE: Reserve inside linebacker for Notre Dame in 2000 ? played on defense in nine games (missed only vs. Stanford, West Virginia and Rutgers), including vs. Oregon State in 2001 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl vs. Oregon State ? played in first career game vs. Texas A&M and made his first career tackle ? had two solo stops vs. Navy ? made one tackle vs. Oregon State ? played on special teams in each game, making 175 regular-season special team appearances to win a monogram, then 18 more vs. Oregon State in Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.
AS A FRESHMAN: Did not see varsity action for Irish in ?99.
HIGH SCHOOL AND PERSONAL DATA: Rushed for 1,220 yards on 133 carries and scored 15 touchdowns as senior running back in ?98 ? earned all-Sarasota area honors at Riverview High School in Sarasota, Fla. ? added more than 1,100 rushing yards as junior in ?97 to give him career totals of 2,500 yards and 25 TDs ? played wide receiver as freshman and sophomore, then switched to running back as junior and senior, while also returning kickoffs and punts ? won four letters in football, captaining team as senior ? two-time all-league and all-Sarasota selection who won team MVP honors as junior and senior ? selected for Florida Shrine Bowl all-star game ? also competed in basketball and track and field (has long jumped better than 23 feet) ? earned three letters in basketball, captaining team as senior and twice winning all-league and all-city recognition ? won two letters in track and field ? full name is Courtney Watson ?is a two-time winner of the Notre Dame bookstore basketball tournament ? was a member of Student Senate in ?02 ? born Sept. 18, 1980 in Sarasota, Fla. ? graduated from the Mendoza College of Business, majoring in management ? enrolled in graduate studies.