Dec. 8, 2012
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – University of Notre Dame senior linebacker Manti Te’o was named 2012 Notre Dame Monogram Club Most Valuable Player tonight at the 92nd Notre Dame Football Awards Ceremony (Echoes).
Te’o was selected in a vote by members of the Notre Dame football team and was one of 19 players honored at the show sponsored by the Notre Dame Club of St. Joseph Valley.
Te’o spearheaded an Irish defensive unit that ranks first in the nation in scoring defense (10.3 points allowed per game) and sixth in total defense (286.8 yards allowed per game).
Through 12 games this season, Te’o has totaled a team-best 103 tackles and is tied for second in the nation with seven total interceptions. He has played a role in 11 of Notre Dame’s 23 turnovers this year (seven interceptions, two fumble recoveries and two pass hurries that directly led to interceptions).
Te’o has appeared in 50 career games and amassed 427 tackles (209 solo). He is the second Notre Dame player – joining Bob Crable – to register at least 100 tackles in three consecutive seasons.
Eifert, the 2012 Mackey Award winner, has already been named a second-team All-American by both Walter Camp and CBS Sports. He has recorded 44 catches for 624 yards and five touchdowns. Thirty-one of his catches this season have resulted in a touchdown or first down. Eifert leads Irish with 12 receptions of at least 20 yards.
Eifert ranks No. 1 in school history in both career receptions (134) and career receiving yards (1,779) by a tight end.
Motta is the only player in the Irish secondary that had any starting experience prior to this season. He started seven games in 2011 and has opened 27 contests over his Irish career, including every game in 2012. Only Kapron Lewis-Moore and Manti Te’o have more career stops among active Irish players than Motta’s 163 tackles.
Motta, who is tied for second on the team with 61 tackles, now captains a secondary that features a trio of players that never started a game prior to ’12. In fact, all three players (sophomore S Matthias Farley, freshman CB KeiVarae Russell and junior CB Bennett Jackson) have undergone position changes since their respective arrivals on campus. Farley and Jackson were each recruited as wide receivers, while Russell was recruited as a running back.
Senior wide receivers John Goodman and Robby Toma shared the Nick Pietrosante Award. The Pietrosante Award is given to the student-athlete(s) who best exemplified the courage, loyalty, teamwork, dedication and pride of the late Irish All-America 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.
Goodman has just seven receptions in 2012, but three have gone for touchdowns, including a 50-yard touchdown against Wake Forest and a one-handed, 36-yard touchdown at Michigan State.
Toma has registered 24 catches for 252 yards and one rushing touchdown. He has consistently delivered in the clutch this season with 13 of his 24 grabs resulting in first downs, including three of five receptions on third down.
Senior offensive tackle Zack Martin won the Offensive Lineman of the Year. He is the first player in Notre Dame history to win the award three times. Martin is part of an offensive line that has helped the Irish average over 200 yards per game in both rushing and receiving. Only two previous Irish teams ever have achieved the 200-200 in both categories (1977, 1970). Only two offensive lines from a Bowl Championship Series automatically-qualifying conference, including Notre Dame, can lay claim to averaging at least 200 yards on the ground, 200 yards in the air and yielding 16 sacks or less in 2012.
Tuitt has collected 12.0 sacks in 2012. He ranks third in the FBS in sack yardage (89), tied for seven in sacks/game (1.00), tied for eighth in total sacks (12.0) and tied for 12th in solo sacks (10). Among FBS underclassmen, Tuitt leads the nation in sack yardage (89), ranks second in total sacks (12.0), second in solo sacks (10) and second in sacks/game (1.00). He has already registered at least two sacks in three separate games (Navy, Purdue and BYU). Only five underclassmen over the last eight seasons have averaged more sacks per game than Tuitt in 2012.
Nix III, the anchor of Notre Dame’s defensive line, has been a force in the middle of the Irish defense in 2012. He is eighth on Notre Dame in tackles with 45, including five and a half for loss and two sacks. Nix III has forced a fumble and added four pass break ups. His ability to draw and beat constant double teams has been one of the main reasons the Irish defense is so stout against the run.
Junior quarterback Tommy Rees captured the Next Man In Award. He has come off the bench for Notre Dame in seven separate games in 2012. Rees has completed 64.1 percent of his passes for 294 yards and one touchdown as a non-starter. In two games, Oklahoma and Boston College, Rees entered the game for exactly one offensive play and completed an 11 and nine yard pass, respectively. The 11-yard pass against the Sooners came on third and 10.
The Offensive Newcomer of the Year Award was presented to sophomore quarterback Everett Golson. He has started 10 games in 2012 and led the Irish to victories in each contest. The 10 straight wins to open his starting career is the second-most in school history. Bob Williams holds the school record as he guided Notre Dame to victories in his first 11 career starts. Golson is the first quarterback in school history to lead the Irish to road victories over top-10 foes in his first two respective road starts.
Freshman cornerback KeiVarae Russell was presented with the Defensive Newcomer of the Year Award. He was the first freshman ever at Notre Dame to start at cornerback in the opening game of a season (Sept. 1 against Navy). Russell picked up his second career interception on Nov. 24 in the victory over USC. He fared rather well against Trojans’ star wideouts Robert Woods and Marquise Lee. Russell and fellow Irish cornerback Bennett Jackson contained the duo to 12 receptions for 167 yards and one touchdowns. Woods and Lee combined to average nearly 16 grabs for over 211 yards and better than two touchdowns per game entering the matchup.
Sophomore Kyle Brindza earned the Special Teams Player of the Year Award. He is 23 for 31 on field goals this season (and career). The 23 made field goals not only lead the FBS, but surpasses the previous single-season school record held by John Carney (21, 1986). Brindza is only the second place kicker in school history to connect on at least 20 field goals in one season.
Here are the final awards of the evening: Offensive Scout Team Player of the Year (Nick Fitzpatrick), Defensive Scout Team Player of the Year (Tyler Stockton), Irish Around the Bend Award (Mike Golic Jr.), A-Team Award (Kapron Lewis-Moore), Count On Me Award (Theo Riddick), Father Lange Iron Cross Award (Braxston Cave) and Rockne Student-Athelte Award (Danny Spond).
— ND —