The first annual football banquet of the Brian Kelly era at Notre Dame featured a different format than years past. Notre Dame handed out its traditional awards, but a few new ones were handed out during an upbeat night capping off the 2010 season.
Here’s a quick recap of all of the awards that were handed out Saturday night:
- Offensive Scout Team Player of the Year: Cameron Roberson – Roberson got rave reviews from Kelly throughout the year and on Signing Day last year so this shouldn’t be a big surprise. A lot will be expected of Roberson next year with the graduation of Armando Allen and Robert Hughes.
- Defensive Scout Team Player of the Year: Kendall Moore - Moore was singled out by Kelly during bowl prep when a lot of the younger players got reps in scrimmage environments. Moore displayed some nice sideline to sideline movement in the video that was shown.
- Offensive Newcomer of the Year: Tyler Eifert - This award could have gone to Cierre Wood as well as Wood was thrust into more of a prominent role because of injuries, but Eifert was clearly deserving of the honor. Eifert showed that he has all of the makings of being a dynamic receiving threat from the tight end position.
- Defensive Newcomer of the Year: Prince Shembo - Shembo was a pleasant surprise this year for the Irish defense. He showed great pass rush skills off the edge and is expected to step in to Kerry Neal’s starting spot. He’ll have to fight off Steve Filer, Dan Fox and Ishaq Williams among others, but the spot will likely be his to lose.
- Special Teams Player of the Year: Bennett Jackson – This award probably came as a shock to some, but the award was based on a scoring system developed to grade special teams play and Jackson had the most points at the end of the season. Jackson was an excellent gunner on the kick coverage units and showed some promise as a return man.
- Nick Pietrosante Award (Most Inspirational Player): Robert Hughes – Hughes had a very up and down career, but he went out on a major high note by scoring the game winning touchdown against USC to snap the Trojans streak of 8 straight wins over the Irish. Hughes didn’t play much in the beginning of the season, but was a major reason for Notre Dame’s late season surge.
- Moose Krause Award (Lineman of the Year): Ian Williams – Even though Williams missed the final three games of the regular season, Williams was hands down the best defensive lineman, maybe even the best defender regardless of position, on the team in 2010.
- Guardian of the Year (OL of the Year): Zack Martin - Martin emerged as one of the best linemen on the team in spring camp and went on to be the most consistent lineman on the team in 2010. With three years of eligibility left, Martin has a very bright future and should lock down the left tackle position for Notre Dame for at least the next two seasons.
- Rockne Student Athlete Award: David Ruffer – Ruffer misses getting A’s in his classes about as often as he misses field goals with a cumulative 3.92 GPA including 3 semester (out of 5) with a 4.0 GPA. Ruffer was also awarded a scholarship for the 2011 season so it was a pretty good weekend for the Irish kicker.
- Next Man In Award: Tommy Rees – This is a new award and was a no-brainer. Rees played about as well as anyone could have expected after Dyne Crist went down with his injury against Tulsa. As a starter, Rees went 4-0 and nearly led the Irish to a win over Tulsa after stepping in when Crist ruptured his patella tendon.
- MVP: Michael Floyd - This one was a no-brainer as well. Floyd was a major reason Rees was able to lead the Irish to four straight wins to cap off the season. Floyd made huge strides in his game this year and became a complete receiver in year 1 under Brian Kelly. Hopefully Floyd becomes a back to back winner next year with a monster senior season in 2011.