July 8, 2011
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame football team recently placed five student-athletes on the Biletnikoff, Groza, Outland and Nagurski Award Watch Lists. The quintet included senior WR Michael Floyd (Biletnikoff), senior PK David Ruffer (Groza), junior OT Zack Martin (Outland), junior LB Manti Te’o and senior S Harrison Smith (Nagurski).
Floyd (Saint Paul, Minn./Cretin-Derham Hall) was one of 75 players mentioned for the award that is presented annually to the nation’s top college receiver. He has been named to the watch list each of the past two seasons. Floyd was already named to the Maxwell Award Watch List on Tuesday.
Floyd, who is currently suspended from the Fighting Irish football team, enters his final year at Notre Dame with the most touchdown receptions, second-most catches and third-most receiving yards in school history. He has tallied 171 career receptions for 2,539 yards and 28 touchdowns in 30 career games (29 starts). Only Jeff Samardzija (179) has recorded more catches than Floyd and only Golden Tate (2,707) and Samardzija (2,593) have totaled more career receiving yards. He has registered 13 games in his career with at least 100 receiving yards (tied for second with Tom Gatewood; Golden Tate had 15) and Floyd’s 84.6 receiving yards per game is the best career average of any Notre Dame player.
Ruffer (Oakton, Va./Gonzaga) was one of 30 kickers selected to the watch list for the award that is presented annually to the nation’s top college place kicker. He was the first Irish player in school history to be named a finalist for the award in 2010.
Ruffer simply had the most accurate and productive season ever by an Irish kicker last year. He connected on 18 of his 19 field goal attempts, including each of his first 18. Ruffer actually established school records for consecutive field goals made in a career (23, longest in the NCAA FBS at the time), consecutive field goals made in a season (18, longest in the NCAA FBS at the time) and single-season field goal percentage (.947). The 18 field goals in a single season ranked as the third-most in school history. He also became the second Irish place kicker to ever register multiple field goals of 50 yards or longer in the same season.
Martin (Indianapolis, Ind./Bishop Chatard) was one of 24 offensive tackles and one of 65 players mentioned for the award that is presented annually to the nation’s top interior lineman.
Martin captured the Guardian of the Year Award from the Guardian Life Insurance Company (a sponsor of Irish football on ISP radio broadcasts) as the top Notre Dame offensive lineman in 2010. One of four players on the Irish offensive line to start all 13 games a year ago, Martin opened 11 contests at left tackle, two at right tackle and was predominantly responsible for blocking the blindside of Notre Dame’s quarterbacks. He was a key reason the Irish allowed only 20 sacks in 2010, which averaged out to 1.54 per game. Notre Dame has not allowed fewer sacks per game since 1998. Martin also earned the Jimmy Rogers, Jr. Most Valuable Lineman Award following the Hyundai Sun Bowl victory over Miami (Fla.).
Te’o (Laie, Hawaii/Punahou) and Smith (Knoxville, Tenn./Knoxville Catholic) were two of 87 players named to the watch list for the award that is presented annually to the nation’s best defensive player by the Football Writers Association of America and the Charlotte Touchdown Club. Te’o was one of 31 linebackers selected to the watch list and Smith was one of 10 safeties identified for the award.
Te’o, who has already been named to the Bednarik Award Watch List, 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 t-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).
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.