Dec. 13, 2005
Junior Notre Dame wide receiver Jeff Samardzija was a second-team selection to The Associated Press All-America football team released Tuesday, while junior quarterback Brady Quinn and junior safety Tom Zbikowski earned third-team honors from AP.
Samardzija (Valparaiso, IN/Valparaiso HS) and Quinn (Dublin, OH/Coffman HS) combined to form one of the nation’s most prolific passing tandems this season. Samardzija was a first-team All-America selection by the Football Writers Association of America, Sports Illustrated, ESPN.com, CBS Sportsline.com, and Rivals.com, and a second-team selection on the Walter Camp Football Foundation All-America team. He has caught 71 passes for 1,190 yards and 15 touchdowns this season, setting Notre Dame records for touchdown catches in a season (15), consecutive games with a touchdown catch (eight), consecutive games with a touchdown catch to begin a season (eight), and receiving yards in a season (1,190). Samardzija was one of three finalists for the 2005 Fred Biletnikoff Award, given annually to college football’s finest receiver. He ranks tied for the national lead in touchdown catches, is fourth in receiving yards per game (108.2 ypg) and is fourth nationally in total receiving yards.
Quinn has set 17 school records this season, and is in reach of setting several more with the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl upcoming. A fourth-place finisher in the ’05 Heisman Trophy race, Quinn has passed for 3,633 yards and 32 touchdowns while completing 263 of 405 pass attempts and has thrown only seven interceptions. Capturing virtually every meaningful Irish single-season and career passing mark along the way, Quinn was a finalist for the Davey O’Brien Award, presented to college football’s top quarterback, and is one of several finalists for the Archie Manning Award, another honor recognizing the top quarterback in the nation. Quinn ranks among the NCAA leaders in five major statistical categories: passing efficiency (fourth – 162.9 rating), total offense (third – 341.4 ypg), pass completions per game (sixth – 23.91), touchdown passes (second – 32), and points responsible for (fourth – 18.0 ppg).
Zbikowski (Arlington Heights, IL/Buffalo Grove HS) emerged as one of college football’s top playmakers during the ’05 regular season, scoring four touchdowns on punt or interception returns while ranking among the Irish leaders in tackles with 62 (38 solos). Zbikowski enters the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl with five interceptions (which he has returned for 136 yards – a 27.2-yard average), four passes broken up, one quarterback sack and a forced fumble. The former high school quarterback ranks tied for seventh nationally in interceptions and is averaging 14.6 yards per punt return.