Yesterday we took a look at some past Blue/Gold game stars and MVPs who couldn’t translate their success in the annual scrimmage into regular season success. Today we’re going to do a 180 and take a look at some past players who were able to translate their MVP performances into breakout seasons the following fall.
- 1999 – Anthony Denman (6 tackles, INT) – Prior to the 1999 game, Denman had not started two games in his career. In the ’99 season, Denman started every game and recorded 60 tackles with 9 of them for loss.
- 2002 – Ryan Grant (45 yards on 7 carries) – Grant’s numbers in the 2002 game were modest, but he still won offensive MVP honors. Prior to the spring of 2002, Grant carried the ball just 29 times as a true freshman. In 2002 Grant started every game and rushed for 1,085 yards and 9 touchdowns.
- 2003 – Justin Tuck (3 sacks) – Tuck recorded 3 sacks in the 2003 game after starting just one game in his career prior. He went on to set a Notre Dame single season record with 13.5 sacks in 2003 before setting the career mark in 2004.
- 2007 – David Bruton (4 tackles, INT, TD) – Bruton has been primarily special teams standout prior to the 2007 game. In the ’07 game Bruton returned an interception for a touchdown en route to defensive MVP honors and would end up starting every game at free safety for Notre Dame in 2007-2008.
- 2008 – Harrison Smith (INT, TD) – After not playing as a true freshman in 2007, Smith burst on to the scene in last year’s Blue and Gold game and ended up starting every game in 2008.
Unlike yesterday’s list, there isn’t a correlation to certain positions being more likely to have breakout performances. Rather, the only thing these players had in common was that they all entered the spring with some hype after either being effective in backup roles the previous season or tearing it up for the scout team in practice.
None of the players listed above started prior to their Blue/Gold MVP performances, but went on to have very good careers afterwards. Unlike the players we looked at yesterday though, big things were expected from these players – their performances didn’t come as a surprise to anyone. It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that these players then went on to have good careers and in the case of Grant an Tuck – success in the NFL.
This tells us that if a player comes out of nowhere in the spring to win an MVP award or have a good game, the chances of them falling back down the depth chart are pretty good. It also tells us to take the results from this weekend’s game with a grain of salt.
Tomorrow we’ll take a look at what players on the current roster could fall into the two categories of MVPs we have discussed so far.
Did we miss some other big Blue/Gold game performances that were followed by great seasons or careers? Post them in the comments below and let us know.