Nov. 11, 2005

ATLANTA – It is certainly hard for a defensive player to get recognition when his team’s offense is averaging 474 yards and over 38 points per game and the quarterback has thrown for over 2,600 yards and 23 touchdowns. However, Notre Dame safety Tom Zbikowksi earned the respect of college football fans across the country last weekend when he returned an interception and a punt, each for touchdowns, and registered a team-high nine tackles against Tennessee. For his efforts, Zbikowski on Thursday became the first-ever defensive player to be named the Cingular Wireless/ABC Sports All-America Player of the Week, the only major college football honor determined exclusively by fans.

Zbikowski, who received 50 percent of the fan vote, was one of four candidates for the All-America Player of the Week, who are selected by a panel of ABC Sports and ESPN college football analysts. The other finalists were: Penn State defensive end Tamba Hali (19%), Florida quarterback Chris Leak (18%), and North Carolina State running back Andre Brown (13%).

Previous Cingular/ABC Sports All-America Player of the Week winners this season include Georgia quarterback D.J. Shockley, Texas A&M quarterback Reggie McNeal, Minnesota running back Laurence Maroney, Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn, UCLA running back Maurice Drew and Texas quarterback Vince Young.

Throughout the season, the nominees are announced Sunday morning at 9 a.m. EDT on ESPN. Then, fans have until the following Wednesday at 11:59 p.m. EDT to submit their votes via wireless text messaging.* The winner is announced every Thursday night during the first half of the ESPN Thursday Night College Football game. Fans can learn more about the award and each week’s nominees online at or at

Here’s how fans can register to vote for the Cingular/ABC Sports All-America Player of the Week throughout the 2005 season:

Text “VOTE” to “87654” on your wireless phone Follow the prompt to vote for your All-America selection Cingular/ABC Sports Player of the Week candidates will be automatically sent out via text messaging each week

Each time fans vote, they are entered into a sweepstakes to win a trip to the Bowl Championship Series game of their choice. Fans can vote as often as they like.

In December, fans will get a chance to say who the best player in the nation is by voting for the Cingular/ABC Sports All-America Player of the Year. The selection process will culminate in December in a one-hour special on ABC Sports when the Cingular/ABC Sports Player of the Year and the Football Writers Association of America All-America team will be announced. Last year, University of Texas running back and Chicago Bears first round draft pick Cedric Benson was selected by fans as the Player of the Year.

*Other wireless carriers must opt-in for their subscribers to participate