NOTRE DAME, Indiana — Notre Dame senior linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and sophomore defensive back Kyle Hamilton have been selected as semifinalists for the 26th Chuck Bednarik Award for the Outstanding Defensive Player of the Year.
Owusu-Koramoah and Hamilton are two of 18 national semifinalists. Notre Dame is one of just two programs with multiple players represented in the semifinalist group. They are part of the ACC’s top ranked scoring defense, allowing just 17.1 points per game, and the second-ranked total defense in the conference (314.5 yards/game). Notre Dame’s rushing defense, second in the ACC, ranks seventh in the nation (99.7 yards/game).
The Irish boast the second-ranked third-down defense in the nation, allowing just a .264 conversion rate.
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, a preseason All-ACC First Team selection, has totaled 49 tackles this season, which leads Notre Dame’s defense, also leading the team with 9.0 tackles-for-loss. He has been responsible for forcing multiple turnovers, including an interception, two fumble recoveries (one returned for a touchdown) and three forced fumbles this season. He has added three pass breakups.
His first-career interception came at Pitt, setting up a Notre Dame touchdown drive. In the win over then-No. 1 Clemson, Owusu-Koramoah posted nine tackles (seven solo), 0.5 sack, 2.0 TFL, one forced fumble and the fumble recovery touchdown, which was the first score of his career. Three plays later, he forced a Clemson fumble, which was also recovered by the Irish.
Owusu-Koramoah ranks tied for seventh among all FBS players with two fumble recoveries this season. He ranks fifth among all ACC players in forced fumbles (0.3 per game) and his 9.0 TFL tie for 16th-most in the ACC
A Butkus Award semifinalist, he was named Nagurski Trophy and Bednarik Award Player of the Week, as well as ACC Linebacker of the Week, all for his performance against Clemson. At Pitt, he was named to the Pro Football Focus Team of the Week. He has been tabbed for watch lists for the Nagurski Trophy, Bednarik Award and Lott IMPACT Trophy, in addition to the Butkus Award.
Sophomore Kyle Hamilton ranks second on the Irish defense with 46 total tackles in just nine games, averaging 5.1 tackles per game. Through 2020, he has collected four pass breakups, two quarterback hits and 3.5 tackles-for-loss.
A preseason All-America second team selection (USA TODAY), Hamilton has started all nine games in which he has seen action this season. In the win over then-No. 1 Clemson, Hamilton posted eight solo tackles and a TFL. Hamilton’s TFL came in the second quarter vs. Clemson when he brought down Travis Etienne. The Clemson drive later ended in a field goal. He was called into run defense duties vs. Clemson, and according to Pro Football Focus, posted a 79.2 run-defense grade.
In the win at Georgia Tech, Hamilton led the defense with six tackles, adding 2.0 TFL (-8 yards) and one PBU. One of Hamilton’s tackles from behind the line of scrimmage came on a Georgia Tech fourth-down attempt, as he stopped the Yellowjackets for a loss of six yards to give the Irish possession.
Against Louisville Hamilton made his presence felt from the start posting a diving pass breakup on third-and-11 on the Cardinals’ opening drive to force a punt. In the fourth quarter, Hamilton posted tackles on consecutive plays to force a punt, ending what would be Louisville’s final drive of the game and secure the win for Notre Dame.
Hamilton was outstanding in the season-opener as he accounted for four tackles and a PBU on the opening drive for Duke. On the day, he marked seven tackles, including five solo tackles, before leaving the game with an injury.
Owusu-Koramoah, Hamilton and the Irish return to the field Saturday, Dec. 19 for the ACC Championship game, the first conference championship game in Notre Dame’s one-year history of playing as a conference team.