Dec. 11, 2015

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – University of Notre Dame junior wide receiver Will Fuller received the 2015 Notre Dame Monogram Club Most Valuable Player honor tonight at ECHOES | 15 presented by Bank of America.

Fuller, who was voted MVP by his teammates, was one of 15 players honored at the 95th Fighting Irish football awards show.

Fuller, a second-team All-America selection by Sports Illustrated, CBS Sports and USA Today, leads the Irish in receptions (56), receiving yards (1,145) and TD receptions (13). His 13 TD catches are two shy of the single-season school record (which he equaled in 2014) and rank tied for sixth in the Football Bowl Subdivision. He also ranks 13th in yards per reception (20.45), 14th in receiving yards per game (95.4) and 15th in receiving yards among all FBS players.

In single-season school history, Fuller’s six 100-yard receiving games rank third, his 13 TD grabs rank fourth and his 1,145 receiving yards rank fifth. He’s recorded nine TD receptions and 14 catches overall of at least 30 yards in 2015.

Fuller is the fourth player in Notre Dame history to record back-to-back 1,000-yard receiving seasons (Fuller had 1,094 yards in 2014). His 28 TD receptions are the most and his 2,239 receiving yards are the second-most for any Irish player over any two-year span in school history.

Junior linebacker Jaylon Smith and senior left tackle Ronnie Stanley were named Notre Dame’s defensive and offensive players of the year, respectively.

Smith, the Butkus Award recipient as well as a Walter Camp, CBS Sports and USA Today first-team All-American, leads Notre Dame in total tackles (113), solo tackles (68), assisted tackles (45), pass breakups (five) and fumble recoveries (two). He ranks third on the team with his nine tackles for loss.

Smith is the first Notre Dame player with at least 113 tackles, nine tackles for loss and five passes defended since Courtney Watson in 2003. He is one of just three players at a contract bowl eligible school this fall with at least 113 tackles, nine TFLs and five passes defended.

Smith is the first Irish player with consecutive 100-tackle seasons since Manti Te’o hit that milestone for three straight years from 2010-12.

Smith turned in some of his best individual performances late in the season, recording at least 10 tackles in five of Notre Dame’s last six games, including a career-high 15 at No. 9 Stanford on Nov. 28. In that game, the Irish held Heisman Trophy finalist Christian McCaffrey to just 94 yards rushing and 113 offensive yards, both his lowest totals over the Cardinal’s final 11 games of the season.

Stanley, a first-team All-America selection by Walter Camp and CBS Sports, and widely considered the top offensive tackle prospect for the 2016 NFL Draft, has started all 12 games in 2015. A semifinalist for the Lombardi and Outland Trophies, Stanley and senior center Nick Martin, who won Offensive Lineman of the Year tonight, have been dominant forces on arguably the top offensive line in all of college football. Consider the following numbers:

1,032: Rushing yards by first-year RB C.J. Prosise in 2015 — the 18th 1,000-yard rushing season in school history
757: Rushing yards by RB Josh Adams in 2015 — second in school history for a freshman
471.5: Average yards of total offense per game — Notre Dame has averaged more yards of total offense per game just once (2005) since setting the school record of 510.5 yards of total offense per game in 1970
457: Rushing yards vs. UMass — the best rushing total by the Irish in 23 years
299: Rushing yards vs. Stanford — most by an opponent in David Shaw’s five seasons (35 carries for an 8.5 per-carry average against nation’s No. 22 rush defense)
214.8: Rushing yards per game in 2015, including six games with at least 200 yards (Texas, Virginia, Georgia Tech, UMass, USC and Stanford)
168: Rushing yards by Adams vs. Stanford — breaking the 40-year-old single-game freshman record
150: Rushes for Prosise to reach 1,000 yards in 2015 — second-fewest in school history
98: TD run by Adams vs. Wake Forest — longest play from scrimmage in Notre Dame history and longest rush by a freshman in NCAA history
90: Two TD rushes of at least 90 yards in 2015 (Adams-98 and Prosise-91) — Irish had just two rushes of at least 90 yards in first 126 seasons of Notre Dame football
34.8: Average points per game — not far off the school record of 37.6 points per game (1968)
10: Individual 100-yard rushing games in 2015 — most by the Irish since 1983 (11)
9: Rushing TDs by QB DeShone Kizer — tying the single-season school record for QBs
6: Offensive plays of at least 70 yards — tied for the most in the FBS
5.8: Rushing yards per carry — currently a modern (post WWII) school record

Senior wide receiver Chris Brown captured the Nick Pietrosante Award, which is given to the student-athlete(s) who best exemplify the courage, loyalty, teamwork, dedication and pride of the late Irish All-American fullback. Pietrosante, Notre Dame’s leading rusher in 1957 and ’58 (and later a number-one draft pick and two-time all-pro selection with the Detroit Lions), died of cancer on Feb. 6, 1988. The recipient is determined by a vote of the players and past winners have included Cam McDaniel, Chris Watt, Dan Fox, John Carlson, Jeff Faine, Harrison Smith, Aaron Taylor and Chris Zorich.

Brown has played in 50 career games, including each of Notre Dame’s last 38 contests dating back to his freshman season in 2012. He’s caught 100 passes for 1,375 yards and five TDs over his career, including 44 grabs for 562 yards and three TDs this season.

Senior defensive lineman Sheldon Day won the Lineman of the Year Award presented by the Moose Krause Chapter of the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame.

Day, who became the fifth Irish player to win the award more than once, started all 12 games of the regular season. He’s registered 41 tackles, 29 solo stops, 14.5 tackles for loss, four sacks, 13 quarterback hurries, two passes defended, two pass breakups and one forced fumble. Day leads the Irish in tackles for loss and quarterback hurries. His 14.5 tackles for loss are the most by an Irish player since 2006. He’s had at least one TFL in 10 different games and has recorded multiple TFLs in four games.

Senior running back C.J. Prosise captured the Next Man In Award. An honorable mention All-America selection by Sports Illustrated and a semifinalist for the Doak Walker Award and Walter Camp Player of the Year, Prosise leads the Irish in rushing yards (1,032), rushing yards per game (103.2), rushing TDs (11), carries (156), all-purpose yards (1,340) and all-purpose yards per game (134.0). He ranks ninth in the FBS in rush yards per carry (6.6), 19th in all-purpose yards per game, 28th in rushing yards per game, 38th in rush TDs and 50th in rushing yards.

Prosise, who registered the 18th 1,000-yard rushing season in school history, was among the quickest to reach the milestone. The fewest carries needed to reach 1,000 rushing yards was 120 by Reggie Brooks in 1992. Prosise hit the mark on his 150th carry of the year. The next-best sum was 162 carries by Lee Becton in 1993.

The Offensive Newcomer of the Year Award was presented to sophomore quarterback DeShone Kizer. He has thrown for 2,600 yards and 19 touchdowns this season (in 12 games and 10 starts). Kizer has added 499 yards and a school record for a quarterback equaling nine TDs on the ground. He has registered 3,099 yards of total offense. In single-season school history, Kizer ranks fourth in completion percentage (63.4), fourth in passing yards per game (216.7), sixth in passing efficiency (151.7), tied for seventh in 300-yard passing games (two), tied for eighth in TD passes, ninth in passing yards and ninth in pass attempts (189).

Freshman defensive lineman Jerry Tillery was presented with the Defensive Newcomer of the Year Award. Initially recruited by Notre Dame as an offensive lineman, Tillery displayed an impressive combination of power, strength and footwork that led to immediate playing time this fall. He made his collegiate debut against Texas and recorded a sack. Tillery’s first career start came in the win over No. 14 Georgia Tech (Sept. 19). He’s totaled 12 tackles, nine solo stops, two tackles for loss and one sack.

Senior captain and safety Matthias Farley earned the Special Teams Player of the Year Award. He leads the Irish in punt-return tackles (three) and punts downed inside the 20-yard line (four), and also ranks tied for third in total special-teams stops (seven). Farley has added four kickoff-return tackles and recovered a pair of onside kicks.

Graduate linebacker Jarrett Grace captured the Rockne Student-Athlete Award. He graduated from the Mendoza College of Business with a degree in management-consulting in May 2015. Grace will earn a second degree from the University this spring – completing the one-year MBA program.

Here are the final awards of the evening: Offensive Scout Team Player of the Year (Tristen Hoge), Defensive Scout Team Player of the Year (Asmar Bilal), Irish Around the Bend Award (Joe Schmidt) and Father Lange Iron Cross Award (Romeo Okwara).

Award Winners
Scout Team Player of the Year: Offense – Tristen Hoge
Scout Team Player of the Year: Defense – Asmar Bilal
Newcomer of the Year: Offense – DeShone Kizer
Newcomer of the Year: Defense – Jerry Tillery
Special Teams Player of the Year – Matthias Farley
Offensive Lineman of the Year – Nick Martin
Irish Around the Bend – Joe Schmidt
Moose Krause Lineman of the Year – Sheldon Day
Father Lange Iron Cross – Romeo Okwara
Pietrosante Award – Chris Brown
Rockne Student-Athlete – Jarrett Grace
Offensive Player of the Year – Ronnie Stanley
Defensive Player of the Year – Jaylon Smith
Next Man In – C.J. Prosise
Most Valuable Player – Will Fuller