Nov. 22, 2000
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Notre Dame inside linebacker Anthony Denman has been named the Independent Player of the Year by Football News. — and he joins tailback Tony Fisher, offensive guard Mike Gandy, defensive end Anthony Weaver, free safety Tony Driver and punter Joey Hildbold among Irish players on the All-Independent team.
Denman, a 6-2, 235-pound senior from Rusk, Texas, currently ranks as the leading Irish tackler in 2000 with 78 overall, 49 of them solo efforts. One of four senior captains, he also paces the team in sacks (five) and in tackles for loss (13 for 50). He also was named a third-team All-American by Football News.
Fisher, a 6-2, 225-pound junior from Euclid, Ohio, has carried 117 times for 536 rushing yards and five touchdowns in 2000. He ran for a career-high 196 yards vs. Boston College (fourth-best effort ever by an Irish player in Notre Dame Stadium and the most rushing yards by anyone from Notre Dame since 1992) and then added another 135 on a career-high 27 attempts against Rutgers last week. He scored three times vs. West Virginia, twice on receptions).
Gandy, a 6-4, 315-pound senior from Garland, Texas, is the veteran of Notre Dame’s offensive line. He has played every offensive snap in eight of the 10 Irish game, leads all offensive linemen in career playing time — and was recently rated as the third-best offensive guard among pro prospects by The Sporting News.
Weaver, a 6-3, 276-pound junior from Saratoga Springs, N.Y., has made 45 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, five sacks, two interceptions, plus one fumble caused and another recovered. He led the Irish with a career-high nine tackles against Michigan State on his way to becoming the most dominant Irish defensive lineman since Renaldo Wynn in ’96 (Wynn was team MVP and a first-round NFL draft pick).
Driver, a 6-2, 220-pound senior from Louisville, Ky., tied an NCAA single-game record against Navy this season by returning two fumbles for TDs. He made 10 tackles vs. both Texas A&M and Nebraska, 11 vs. Michigan State — and currently has 60 overall, 36 of them solo. He also intercepted one pass, broke up five passes and returned seven kickoffs for a 26.6-yard average.
Hildbold, a 5-10, 190-pound sophomore from Centreville, Va., helps Notre Dame rank ninth nationally in net punting with a 39.12-yard average. One of 10 finalists for the Ray Guy Award, he has had 15 punts of 50 yards or more and pinned the opposition inside the 20 on 21 occasions.