Dec. 13, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -
University of Notre Dame senior wide receiver TJ Jones was named 2013 Notre Dame Monogram Club Most Valuable Player tonight at the 93rd Notre Dame Football Awards Ceremony (ECHOES).
Jones was selected in a vote by members of the Irish football team and was one of 16 players honored at the show sponsored by the Notre Dame Club of St. Joseph Valley.
Jones anchors the Notre Dame wide receiver corps. He leads the Irish in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. Jones is the seventh wide out in school history to surpass 1,000 yards receiving in a single season. His 65 catches, 1,042 yards and nine touchdown catches rank ninth, eighth and tied for ninth, respectively, in single-season school history. Jones has recorded 100-yard receiving games on five different occasions in 2013 - tied for the fourth-most in school history. He also registered a touchdown grab in seven consecutive games, which is the second-longest streak in school history.
Jones' career totals are equally impressive. He has caught 176 passes for 2,363 yards and 19 touchdowns. Jones ranks third in school history for all-time receptions, sixth in all-time receiving yards and tied for sixth in all-time touchdown catches.
Senior quarterback Tommy Rees and senior outside linebacker Prince Shembo were named Notre Dame's offensive and defensive players of the year, respectively.
Rees has thrown for 2,938 yards and 27 touchdowns this season. He is on the verge of becoming the third signal caller in school history to eclipse the 3,000-yard passing mark in a season and only two Notre Dame quarterbacks have ever registered more touchdown passes in a year. Rees ranks eighth in the FBS in passing yards per completion (14.91), 17th in passing touchdowns (27), 30th in passing yards (2,938), 32nd in point responsibility (162), 36th in point responsibility/game (13.5) and 34th in passing yards/game (244.8). He has recorded 19 completions of at least 32 yards in `13. Irish quarterbacks recorded 11 such completions all of last year.
Rees is 22-8 (.733) as the Irish starting quarterback over his career. His 22 victories as the starting signal caller are tied for the seventh-most in school history. Rees has thrown for 61 career touchdowns and 7,351 yards. Only one quarterback has ever collected more touchdown passes, while just three have thrown for more yards.
Shembo has started all 12 games this season and totaled 46 tackles, 5.0 sacks, 5.0 tackles for loss, one forced fumble and an astounding 17 quarterback hurries. The 17 quarterback hurries are the most by an Irish player since 2004 (when the stat started to be consistently recorded). He did not register a sack over Notre Dame's first five games, but exploded for three in the victory over No. 22 Arizona State on Oct. 5. Shembo's three sacks are tied for the seventh most by an FBS player in a single game this season.
Senior offensive guard Chris Watt and senior inside linebacker Dan Fox shared the Nick Pietrosante Award.
The Pietrosante Award 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 Robert Hughes, Mike Anello, Tom Zbikowski, John Carlson, Jeff Faine, Harrison Smith, Aaron Taylor and Chris Zorich.
Watt played in 47 straight games to open his Notre Dame career and started 34 consecutive games at left guard prior to missing the Navy game on Nov. 2 with a knee injury. He returned to lineup the following week at Pittsburgh and started the final three games of the regular season. Unfortunately, Watt suffered another knee injury at Stanford and will miss the Pinstripe Bowl.
Fox has played in all 12 games this season and started nine. He leads the Irish in total tackles (90), solo stops (42) and assisted tackles (48). Fox has registered five tackles for loss, one sack, one interception return for touchdown and one fumble recovery. His interception return for touchdown helped seal the victory over Arizona State. Fox closed the regular season with a career-best 15 tackles against Stanford. He has played in 51 career games and started 31. He has registered 221 career tackles, 9.5 for loss and 3.0 sacks.
Graduate offensive tackle Zack Martin won the Offensive Lineman of the Year.
Martin has captured the award four straight years. Ryan Harris is the only other Irish player to ever capture the award more than once and Harris won it twice. Martin, the 18th two-time captain in school history, has started a school-record 51 games for Notre Dame over the last four seasons. He can also claim to have sung the fabled "Notre Dame Victory March" in celebration just about as much as any starter to ever play for the Irish. He has been in the starting lineup for 36 victories during his time at Notre Dame, the third most in school history.
Junior defensive lineman Stephon Tuitt won the Lineman of the Year Award presented by the Moose Krause Chapter of the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame.
Tuitt captured the award in 2012 as well. He is the fourth Irish player to ever win the award on more than one occasion. Tuitt has started all 12 games this season and leads all defensive linemen in tackles with 45, tackles for loss with 7.5 and sacks with 6.0. He registered an interception return for touchdown against Michigan, forced a fumble against Arizona State and totaled 13 quarterback hurries. Tuitt has recorded 20.0 career sacks, which ranks fifth in single-season school history.
Senior defensive lineman Kona Schwenke captured the Next Man In Award. He has played in 11 games this season and started six following the injuries to fellow defensive lineman Louis Nix III and Sheldon Day. Schwenke collected 21 tackles along the way, including a career-best 11 against Navy before an injury.
The Offensive Newcomer of the Year Award was presented to freshman running back Tarean Folston. He has played in 11 games and started one in 2013. Folston has recorded 397 yards rushing on 71 carries (5.6 yards per rush) and two rushing touchdowns. He registered the most rushing yards by an Irish rookie since Darius Walker set the school record in 2004 with 786 yards on the ground. Folston had a breakthrough performance against Navy on Nov. 2, leading the Irish with 140 rushing yards on 18 carries (7.8 yard average) and one touchdown. The 140 rushing yards were the most by a Notre Dame freshman since Julius Jones ran for 146 against Navy on Oct. 30, 1999. His effort was not far off of the school's freshman record of 148 by Jerome Heavens set against Georgia Tech on Nov. 8, 1975.
Freshman linebacker Jaylon Smith was presented with the Defensive Newcomer of the Year Award. Smith became the first Notre Dame freshman linebacker to start a season opener since Kory Minor in 1995. He has started all 12 games this fall and ranks third on the squad with 61 tackles while trailing only Tuitt for the team lead with 6.5 tackles for loss. Smith's 61 tackles are the fifth-most ever by an Irish freshman and most since Manti Te'o had 63 in 2009.
Junior place kicker Kyle Brindza earned the Special Teams Player of the Year Award. He is 15 for 20 on field goals this season (and 38 of 51 for his career). He is nearly perfect 12-for-13 in game-winning, game-tying, overtime or fourth-quarter lead-extending field goals over his career. His only miss came in the fourth quarter against Temple on Aug. 31, 2013 with the Irish leading 28-6. Amongst Brindza's 38 career field goals are a school record four of at least 50 yards, including three this fall (53 vs. Arizona State, 51 at Air Force and 51 vs. BYU). He is the only Notre Dame kicker ever to make a field goal of at least 51 yards in a true road game, accomplishing this feat twice (2012 at USC and 2013 at Air Force). Brindza has also averaged 41.3 yards per punt (42 punts for 1,735 yards) in his first year in the role.
Here are the final awards of the evening: Offensive Scout Team Player of the Year (Torii Hunter Jr.), Defensive Scout Team Player of the Year (Joe Romano), Irish Around the Bend Award (Tyler Stockton), Father Lange Iron Cross Award (Carlo Calabrese) and Rockne Student-Athlete Award (Jarrett Grace).