Dec. 2, 2002
Notre Dame, Ind. – Notre Dame senior cornerback/punt returner Shane Walton today was named to the 2002 Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) All-America team. Walton becomes Notre Dame’s first honoree since offensive tackle Aaron Taylor and free safety Bobby Taylor were cited by the FWAA during the 1993 season.
“I am truly honored to be a named a first-team FWAA All-American and to be in the same company as some of the great players of Notre Dame’s past including Bobby Taylor, Aaron Taylor, Todd Lyght, Chris Zorich and Rocket Ismail,” Walton says.
“It is a tribute to my teammates and coaches that I have had such success this season. They all challenged me to be a better player this year and I feel I have done that.”
Walton, who earlier in the season was named one of five finalists for the 2002 Bronko Nagurski Trophy given to the best defensive player in college football by the FWAA and the Charlotte Touchdown Club, has been the leader of the Irish defense in 2002. The Irish rank 13th in the country in total defense, seventh in pass efficiency defense, 11th in rushing defense and sixth in scoring defense allowing only 15.75 points a game. The Irish finished the regular season 10-2 and are currently ranked 11th in the country and 10th in the Bowl Championship Series poll.
Walton, who only three years ago was the leading scorer on the Notre Dame men’s soccer team, leads the Irish in interceptions in 2002 with seven. His seven picks rank him sixth in Division I college football and are the most interceptions by a Notre Dame player since Lyght recorded eight during the 1989 season. The fifth-year player recorded three of his interceptions against Maryland in the Kickoff Classic, setting a new Kickoff Classic record and tying the Notre Dame record for interceptions in a game.
The native of San Diego, Calif., then earned the FWAA National Defensive Player of the Week Award for his outstanding performance against Michigan back in September. In that game, he knocked down a critical two-point conversion in the final minutes of the game to preserve Notre Dame’s 25-23 lead and then clinched the victory by intercepting a pass with under a minute to go in the contest.
Walton, a four-time captain this season, also set a career-high with nine tackles in Notre Dame’s 35-24 win over Florida State and swatted down three balls. He matched that total against USC with one being a tackle for loss. On the season, Walton is tied for fourth on the team in tackles with 65, including 42 solos. He has five tackles for loss, seven pass breakups, a fumble recovery and a forced fumble on the season.
Walton, who became the first Nagurski finalist in Notre Dame history, joins Maryland linebacker E.J. Henderson, Kansas State defensive back Terrence Newman, Georgia defensive end David Pollack and Arizona State defensive end Terrell Suggs as candidates for the award with the winner announced on Dec. 9 in Charlotte, N.C.
“Shane has had a tremendous season for us,” Irish head coach Tyrone Willingham says.
“Although Shane would be the first one to admit that great players have a great team that surrounds him, he has made big plays for us when we needed them this season and has been instrumental in the success we have had.”
2002 FWAA ALL-AMERICA TEAM
QB Carson Palmer, Southern California 6-5 225 Sr.
RB Larry Johnson, Penn State 6-2 222 Sr.
RB Willis McGahee, Miami 6-1 224 Soph.
WR Charles Rogers, Michigan State 6-4 205 Jr.
WR Reggie Williams, Washington 6-4 220 Soph.
TE Dallas Clark, Iowa 6-4 244 Jr.
OL Shawn Andrews, Arkansas 6-5 330 Soph.
OL Derrick Dockery, Texas 6-6 345 Sr.
OL Jordan Gross, Utah 6-5 306 Sr.
OL Bruce Nelson, Iowa 6-4 290 Sr.
OL Brett Romberg, Miami 6-3 290 Sr.
DL Michael Haynes, Penn State 6-3 268 Sr.
DL Rien Long, Washington State 6-6 286 Jr.
DL David Pollack, Georgia 6-2 275 Soph.
DL Terrell Suggs, Arizona State 6-3 252 Jr.
LB E.J. Henderson, Maryland 6-2 250 Sr.
LB Teddy Lehman, Oklahoma 6-2 235 Jr.
LB Matt Wilhelm, Ohio State 6-5 245 Sr.
DB Mike Doss, Ohio State 5-11 204 Sr.
DB Terence Newman, Kansas State 5-11 185 Sr.
DB Troy Polamalu, Southern California 5-10 215 Sr.
DB Shane Walton, Notre Dame 5-11 185 Sr.
K Nate Kaeding, Iowa 6-0 177 Jr.
P Andy Groom, Ohio State 6-1 185 Sr.
KR Derek Abney, Kentucky 5-10 175 Jr.