Dec. 12, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - University of Notre Dame senior linebacker Joe Schmidt received the 2014 Notre Dame Monogram Club Most Valuable Player honor tonight at the 94th Notre Dame Football Awards Show (ECHOES | 14).
Schmidt, voted MVP by his teammates, and 15 other Irish players were honored at the show, which was sponsored by The Notre Dame Club of Saint Joseph Valley, South Bend International Airport, CBTS, Visit South Bend Mishawaka, Ruth's Chris Steak House, Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center and TireRack.com.
Schmidt started each of the first eight games of the year and led the Irish in tackles (65) and solo tackles (42) before suffering a season-ending injury vs. Navy on Nov. 1. Schmidt also collected three passes defended, two forced fumbles and one interception. With Schmidt in the lineup on a full-time basis (first seven games), Notre Dame allowed 19.1 points per game, 102.7 rushing yards per game and 345.6 total yards per game. Without Schmidt over the final four games of the year, the Irish allowed 44.5 points per game, 221.2 rushing yards per game and 486.2 total yards per game.
Sophomore wide receiver Will Fuller and sophomore linebacker Jaylon Smith were named Notre Dame's offensive and defensive players of the year, respectively.
Fuller leads the Irish in receptions (71), receiving yards (1,037) and TD receptions (14). His 14 TD catches are one shy of the single-season school record and rank tied for second in the Football Bowl Subdivision. Fuller also ranks 19th in receiving yards, 23rd in receiving yards per game (86.4) and 30th in receptions per game (5.9) among all FBS players.
Fuller is the eighth player in Notre Dame history to record a 1,000-yard receiving season. His 14 TD receptions and 71 catches are the most ever by an Irish sophomore, while his 1,037 receiving yards are the second most in sophomore school history (behind Golden Tate's 1,080 in 2008).
Smith, a Butkus Award finalist, was one of three players on the Irish defense to start all 12 regular-season games. He leads Notre Dame in total tackles (103), solo tackles (60) and assisted tackles (43). Smith is the first Irish sophomore to record 100 tackles in a season since Manti Te'o had 133 in 2010. He leads the Irish with eight and a half tackles for loss and ranks third on the team with three sacks. Smith also has forced a fumble, recorded two PBUs and registered six quarterback hurries.
Senior captain and running back Cam McDaniel captured the Nick Pietrosante Award, which is given to the student-athlete(s) who best exemplify the courage, loyalty, teamwork, dedication and pride of the late Irish All-American fullback. Pietrosante, Notre Dame's leading rusher in 1957 and '58 (and later a number-one draft pick and two-time all-pro selection with the Detroit Lions), died of cancer on Feb. 6, 1988. The recipient is determined by a vote of the players and past winners have included Chris Watt, Dan Fox, John Carlson, Jeff Faine, Harrison Smith, Aaron Taylor and Chris Zorich.
McDaniel has played in 46 career games, including each of Notre Dame's last 43 contests dating back to his freshman season in 2011. He's run for 1,113 yards and eight TDs over his career, including 274 yards and four TDs this season.
Junior defensive lineman Sheldon Day won the Lineman of the Year Award presented by the Moose Krause Chapter of the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame.
Day started the first 10 games of the year before a knee injury vs. Northwestern sidelined him for the final two games of the regular season. He has registered 38 tackles, 23 solo stops, seven and a half tackles for loss, one sack, nine quarterback hurries, two passes defended, two pass breakups and one fumble recovery. Day is tied for second on the Irish in tackles for loss and leads the team in quarterback hurries.
Junior offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley won the Guardian Life Insurance Guardian of the Year.
Stanley has started 25 consecutive games for Notre Dame dating back to the start of the 2013 campaign. He has recorded 14 knockdown blocks and yielded just one sack - the fewest of any Irish offensive lineman. Stanley has faced some of the top defensive linemen in the country, including Michigan's Frank Clark, Arizona State's Marcus Hardison, Louisville's Sheldon Rankins and Lorenzo Mauldin, Stanford's Henry Anderson and USC's Leonard Williams.
Graduate defensive lineman Justin Utupo captured the Next Man In Award. He has played in all 12 games and started three contests during the regular season, but his role increased following injuries to juniors Sheldon Day and Jarron Jones. Utupo collected six tackles over the year's first seven games, but registered 17 stops over the final five outings.
The Offensive Newcomer of the Year Award was presented to sophomore wide receiver Torii Hunter Jr. He has played in nine games, and recorded seven receptions for 65 yards and one TD. Hunter Jr. added a couple rushes for 13 yards. In his Notre Dame debut, he caught a 13-yard TD pass in the fourth quarter of a 31-15 victory over Syracuse on Sept. 27. Hunter Jr. also recorded two receptions for 24 yards, including a critical 12-yard catch on a third-down play to extend a fourth-quarter scoring drive, in the 17-14 victory over No. 14 Stanford on Oct. 4.
Freshman safety Drue Tranquill was presented with the Defensive Newcomer of the Year Award. He played in 11 regular-season games and started three contests (Navy, Northwestern and Louisville) before suffering a season-ending knee injury. Tranquill registered 33 tackles, one TFL, half a sack, one interception, one fumble recovery, one blocked bunt, one pass defended and one quarterback hurry. He recorded a career-high seven tackles, including four solo stops, and recovered one fumble vs. Northwestern on Nov. 15. Tranquill was not only credited with five tackles vs. Louisville on Nov. 22 but collected his first career interception.
Junior wide receiver C.J. Prosise earned the Special Teams Player of the Year Award. He leads the Irish in total special teams tackles (10), kickoff return tackles (seven) and punt return tackles (three).
Sophomore wide receiver Corey Robinson captured the Rockne Student-Athlete Award. He was named a 2014 Capital One First-Team Academic All-American®. Robinson is the first sophomore at an NCAA Division I institution to earn first-team Academic All-America honors since 2008 and the fourth sophomore to attain first-team status since 2002. He was the second Irish sophomore football player to be named first-team Academic All-America and the first since Joe Heap in 1952.
Robinson, a liberal studies major, boasts a 3.83 cumulative grade-point average in Notre Dame's College of Arts and Letters. He's been named to the dean's list following each of his four semesters on campus.
Here are the final awards of the evening: Offensive Scout Team Player of the Year (Tyler Plantz), Defensive Scout Team Player of the Year (Austin Larkin), Irish Around the Bend Award (Kyle Brindza), Father Lange Iron Cross Award (Christian Lombard) and TireRack.com Play of the Year (Ben Koyack's game-winning TD catch against Stanford).
Highlights from the ECHOES, presented by Coke Zero, will be broadcast four times on NBC Sports Network. The recap show will debut on Saturday, Dec. 20, at 1:30 p.m. EST and re-air on Dec. 24 at 7:30 p.m. EST, Dec. 24 at 11:59 p.m. EST and Dec. 28 at 6 p.m. EST.
Scout Team Player of the Year: Offense - Tyler Plantz
Scout Team Player of the Year: Defense - Austin Larkin
Newcomer of the Year: Offense - Torii Hunter Jr.
Newcomer of the Year: Defense - Drue Tranquill
Special Teams Player of the Year - C.J. Prosise
Offensive Lineman of the Year - Ronnie Stanley
Irish Around the Bend - Kyle Brindza
Moose Krause Lineman of the Year - Sheldon Day
Father Lange Iron Cross - Christian Lombard
Pietrosante Award - Cam McDaniel
Rockne Student-Athlete - Corey Robinson
Tire Rack Play of the Year - Ben Koyack
Offensive Player of the Year - Will Fuller
Defensive Player of the Year - Jaylon Smith
Next Man In - Justin Utupo
Most Valuable Player - Joe Schmidt