July 15, 2011
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame football team recently placed five student-athletes on the Thorpe, Lombardi, Rimington, Butkus, Walker and O’Brien Award Watch Lists. The quintet included senior S Harrison Smith (Thorpe), senior C Braxston Cave (Rimington), junior LB Manti Te’o (Lombardi and Butkus), junior RB Cierre Wood (Walker) and senior QB Dayne Crist (O’Brien).
Smith (Knoxville, Tenn./ Knoxville Catholic) was one of 37 players mentioned for the award that is presented annually to the nation’s top defensive back. He was named to the Nagurski Award Watch List last week. Smith was one of 19 safeties identified for the award.
Smith is the only player in Notre Dame football history to register more than 200 tackles, 15 tackles for loss and 15 pass breakups in a career. In 2010, he totaled 93 tackles, seven interceptions (54 yards) and seven pass breakups. Smith ranked second on the team in total tackles, second in solo stops and third in assisted tackles. He ranked fourth in the FBS in interceptions per game (0.54) and total interceptions (seven). Smith eclipsed 10 or more tackles in four different games (Michigan State, Stanford, Pittsburgh and Navy). He registered three interceptions in the first half alone in the Hyundai Sun Bowl victory over Miami (Fla.). The three interceptions not only equaled a school record, but also equaled the Sun Bowl record. Smith was one of three in the entire FBS in ’10 to intercept three passes in a single game. ESPN.com also selected him to its all-Bowl team.
Cave (Granger, Ind./Penn) was one of 43 players listed for the award that is presented annually to the nation’s top center.
Cave has played in 26 games over his career, including all 13 as the starting center in 2010. He is one of three returning players on the offensive side of the ball to start every game last season. Cave and the rest of the Irish offensive line allowed just 20 sacks in ’10, which averaged out to 1.54 sacks per game. Notre Dame had not allowed fewer sacks per game since 1998 when the Irish allowed only nine sacks in 11 games or 0.82 per game. He totaled 836 snaps on offense, the most of any Irish offensive lineman.
Te’o (Laie, Hawai’i/Punahou) was one of 26 players selected for both the Lombardi and Butkus watch lists. The Lombardi Award is presented annually to the nation’s college lineman of the year, while the Butkus is presented annually to the nation’s top linebacker.
Te’o, who has already been named to the Bednarik and Nagurski Award Watch Lists, started all 13 games in 2010. He totaled 133 tackles on the season, including 9.5 tackles for loss (34 yards), 1.0 sack (seven yards), one forced fumble and two pass breakups. Te’o led the Irish in total tackles (133), tackles on running plays (95), tackles on passing plays (35, tied), solo tackles (66) and assisted tackles (67). He also ranked second on the team in tackles for loss (9.5). Te’o ranked tied for 18th in the FBS in tackles per game (10.23), 12th in total tackles (133), tied for 17th in assisted tackles (67) and tied for 29th in solo stops (66). He eclipsed 10 or more tackles in seven different games (Michigan, 13; Michigan State, 11; Stanford, 21; Boston College, 10; Western Michigan, 10; Navy, 13; Army, 12).
Wood (Oxnard, Calif./Santa Clara) was one of 51 players mentioned for the award that is presented annually to the nation’s top running back.
Wood saw action in all 13 games in 2010 and started five contests. He opened the season as the backup at running back, but moved into the starting lineup when Armando Allen Jr. was lost for the season with an injury following the Navy game. Wood proceeded to lead Notre Dame in rushing with 603 yards on 119 carries and three rushing touchdowns. He averaged 5.1 yards per carry. Wood recorded 20 catches for 170 yards and two receiving touchdowns. He added 15 kickoff returns for 300 yards and totaled 1,073 all-purpose yards.
Crist (Canoga Park, Calif./Notre Dame) was one of 38 players selected to the watch list for the award presented annually to the nation’s top collegiate quarterback.
Crist started the first nine games for the Irish in 2010 before suffering a season-ending ruptured patella tendon against Tulsa. He completed 59.2% of his passes (174 of 294) for 2,033 yards and 15 touchdowns. Crist registered a passing efficiency of 129.3 and posted 19 completions of 20 yards or more. He ranked among the top 30 FBS quarterbacks in total passing yards (14th, 2,033), completions per game (22nd, 21.75) and passing yards per game (27th, 254.13) prior to the injury. Crist recorded at least two touchdown passes in four of the first eight games and also threw three or more touchdown passes twice.