Oct. 15, 2000
ORLANDO, Fla. – After each game, the FANSzine evaluates the Notre Dame players each week and honors those who do not always get the attention for a job well done in the Unsung Hero of the Week honors. Defensive back Tony Driver earns this week’s honors with his jaw-dropping performance against Navy. Not only did Driver dominate in terms of tackles, he racked up two touchdowns as well.
Nothing hurt Irish head coach Bob Davie more than seeing one of his player’s standing at a football pep rally dressed in costume instead of a standard suit and tie.
The player in costume was Tony Driver.
“You talk about breaking my heart,” Davie said of seeing Driver. “I like him a lot better wearing No. 25 with a helmet on.”
In Saturday’s game against the Midshipmen, Driver proved why he is being touted as one of the best defensive backs in the country. Just minutes into the first quarter, Driver picked up a fumble and ran it back 24 yards for a touchdown.
Then again in the second quarter, he picked off a bobbled pitch and ran it back 21 yards for another touchdown.
“I am afraid that Tony Driver is going to hound me on the flight back about going back to offense,” Davie said after the game.
About a year ago, Davie was not singing the praises of his Driver. He instead informed Driver of his suspension from the team. The Irish player got caught violating a school policy of parietals and was suspended from the team for the remainder of the season.
Parietals are a rule, which does not allow members of the opposite sex in dorm rooms during specific hours of the day.
Davie believed that he would take the time away from the team and really evaluate and come back a better person.
Driver did just that and more.
The defensive back has readjusted quite well to playing defense. He is one of the defensive leaders on this football team and is among the top players in tackles.
Despite being on defense, Driver accounted for two touchdowns and 12 of the Irish points. Not only did he make his presence known on the field but also his performance on Saturday took him right into the record books.
He became the first player in the history of Notre Dame to return two fumbles for touchdowns.
“The defense puts me in the position to make those plays,” Driver said about his touchdown returns. “Somebody made the hit on the ball and I would have been upset if I did not take it back to the house.”
With his tremendous defensive play, Driver earns this week’s Unsung Hero of the Week honors.