Notre Dame Fighting Irish - Official Athletics Website

Julius Jones Named 2003 Football Most Valuable Player

Dec. 12, 2003

Notre Dame senior running back Julius Jones was named the 2003 National Monogram Club Most Valuable Player, while seniors Darrell Campbell, Vontez Duff, Omar Jenkins and Jim Molinaro earned captain honors for the ’03 Irish squad. Both the MVP award and the captains’ award were determined by a vote of the players. This is the second season head coach Tyrone Willingham had his team elect official captains at season’s end.

The MVP and captains’ awards were among others presented Friday night at the 83rd Notre Dame Football Banquet at the Joyce Center on the University of Notre Dame campus. Former Irish and NFL quarterback great Joe Montana served as the guest speaker in front of a crowd of 1,300.

Jones, from Big Stone Gap, Va., finished his career ranked fourth on the Notre Dame all-time rushing list with 3,018 yards and tied for fourth on the single-season rushing list with 1,268 yards this year. He was one of only two players nationally to rush for 200 or more yards in three or more games this season and set the Notre Dame single-game rushing record with 262 yards against Pittsburgh. He averaged 5.5 yards per carry in 2003 and scored 10 touchdowns, finishing his career with 29. He also became Notre Dame’s all-time kick returner, finishing his career with 1,660 yards. The senior will graduate from Notre Dame in May with a degree in sociology.

Campbell, from South Holland, Ill., was the leader of the Notre Dame defensive line in 2003 recording 25 tackles, 6.5 for loss and three sacks. He also is an example to his teammates off the field as he will graduate in May with degrees in English and computer applications and is extremely active in the community. Campbell also was tonight’s winner of the Nick Pietrosante Award presented each year to the Notre Dame player who best exemplifies the courage, loyalty, teamwork, dedication and pride of the late Irish All-America fullback Nick Pietrosante. The award is determined by a vote of the players and past winners have included Jeff Faine, Joey Getherall, Aaron Taylor and Chris Zorich.

Duff was a third-team Associated Press All-American in 2002, and led the Irish secondary in 2003. The native of Copperas Cove, Texas, finished the year with 33 tackles, two interceptions, four pass breakups and two fumble recoveries. He also was one of Notre Dame’s leading special teams players, finishing his career with the all-time record for number of kicks returned (120), while ranking third on the all-time Notre Dame total kick return list with 1,955 yards and fourth in all-time kickoff return yards at 1,230. Duff is a sociology major in the College of Arts and Letters.

Jenkins, from Dallas, Texas, started 24 games the past two years for the Irish and finished ’03 with 36 receptions for 344 yards and one touchdown. He became the 21st person in Notre Dame history to have over 1,000 yards receiving in his career and finished 18th on the all-time list with 1,088 yards. Jenkins is a management information systems major in the Mendoza College of Business.

Molinaro, who also won the Guardians Life Insurance Guardian of the Year Award as the top offensive lineman, was the leader of Notre Dame’s young offensive line that featured four new starters. The senior from Bethlehem, Pa., started all 12 games and played the second-most minutes of anyone on the offensive line in ’03, helping lead the way for Jones’ record-breaking season. Molinaro is a triple major in economics, sociology and computer applications in Mendoza College of Business.

Senior defensive end Kyle Budinscak won the Westwood One/State Farm Student-Athlete of the Year Award. He was one of 12 weekly winners announced during Westwood One national radio broadcasts of Irish games in 2003. Budinscak, who had 17 tackles including four for loss and three sacks before his season ended early due to a knee injury against Navy, earned first-team Academic All-District accolades for the third time in his career and was nominated for Academic All-America honors. The native of Bridgewater, N.J., carried a 3.53 grade-point average as a finance major in the Mendoza College of Business.

Other weekly winners of the Westwood One/State Farm Award included junior QB Pat Dillingham, senior FS/SS Glenn Earl, sophomore DE Chris Frome, junior LB Brandon Hoyte, sophomore OL Brian Mattes, junior ILB Corey Mays, sophomore CB Mike Richardson, sophomore DE Dan Santucci, junior RG Dan Stevenson and junior OG Jeff Thompson.

Josh Schmidt, from Germantown, Tenn., was the winner of the Knute Rockne Scholar-Athlete Award presented by the Notre Dame Club of St. Joseph Valley. The junior fullback earned everyone’s respect on and off the football field as the walk-on became a starter by year’s end. He caught 13 passes in 2003 for an average of 9.6 yards per catch in 12 games, while recording a 3.53 grade-point average in the Mendoza College of Business, majoring in finance.

Senior nose tackle Cedric Hilliard won the Lineman of the Year Award from the Moose Krause Chapter of the National Football Foundation and the Hall of Fame. The Arlington, Texas, product recorded 27 tackles in ’03, including 1.5 for loss. The senior also had two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and one pass breakup. Hilliard, who started 24 games in his career and was a preseason All-American this season, is a sociology major in the College of Arts and Letters.