Keivarae Russell Overlooked by Thorpe Award

Keivarae Russell shown here recording an interception against USC in 2012 is being overlooked this summer.  (Photo: Larry Placido/Icon SMI)
Keivarae Russell shown here recording an interception against USC in 2012 is being overlooked this summer. (Photo: Larry Placido/Icon SMI)

Pre-season award watch list season is officially upon us and while Notre Dame has been well represented thus far, one player who might just be one of the best players on the 2014 roster – Keivarae Russell – was overlooked for the Jim Thorpe Award watch list.

Earlier this week, Russell, one of Notre Dame’s defensive leaders for 2014, was listed as a candidate for both the Chuck Bednarik and Bronco Nagurski Awards – both given out to the best overall defensive player in the country – but was curiously absent from the 39 member watch list for the Thorpe Award which is handed out to the nation’s defensive back.

While being absent from the Thorpe Watch list certainly won’t prevent the junior corner from being eligible for the award this season, it seems a bit absurd that Russell was not included.   Phil Steele tabbed Russell as a 4th team All-American in his pre-season publication and both the Nagurski and Bednarik committees which have a much larger pool of players to select from included Russell on their watch lists.

Hopefully for the sake of Notre Dame’s defense Russell uses the snub as motivation this fall because winning the award is one of the former wide receivers goals for the season as stated during Spring practice.  Russell told the South Bend Tribune’s Tyler James, “I want to win it this year. That’s a big goal for me, to win the Thorpe this year. I think I really I can. The biggest thing for me is perfecting my craft and becoming a true lockdown corner.  I know I can.”

A year ago Russell experienced a few growing pains in just his second full season playing on the defensive side of the ball, but by the end of the season, Russell was playing at a very high level which has raised expectations.

Russell will be the leader of what figures to be one of the better secondaries Notre Dame has fielded in a while.  At corner, Russell will be paired with either sophomore Cole Luke or 5th year senior transfer Cody Riggs most likely.  Senior Matthias Farley made the switch to corner in the spring as well and figures to be in the mix too. The emergence of Max Redfield at safety this spring figures to only further solidify the Irish secondary.

While Russell was left of the Thorpe list, several of his teammates were named to other watch lists throughout the week.

  • Ben Koyack as on the Mackey Award watch List.
  • Sophomore linebacker Jaylon Smith found himself on both the Bednarik and Nagurski watch lists like Russell.
  • Smith and Day’s defensive teammate Sheldon Day was on the Outland watch list (best interior lineman).
  • Center Nick Martin was on the Remington Watch list (best C)
  • Kicker/punter Kyle Brindza landed on the Lou Groza (best K) watch list but missed the cut for the Ray Guy (best P) watch list.
  • Quarterback Everett Golson was a member of the Maxwell Watch list (best QB)

There will be more watch lists to come out this week including the Biletnikof Award and Doak Walker Award lists.  It will be interesting to see if Davaris Daniels makes the first Biletnikof list after missing the spring and if any Irish running back will make the Walker list.

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  1. ron burgundy the moron that must reply to everyone due to his be a low life drunken to try and prove he knows something about ND football. Have another one.

    1. Obviously you are the drunk one. He’s Ron and I’m Ron Burgundy! You my friend are a smelly pirate hooker. Why don’t you go back to your house on whore island?

      1. So Clubgitmo you never answered the question? If Shumate steps up it would be great but if he doesn’t is it really the end?

      2. Your wasting your time, he has no clue. The best part of gitty ran down the crack of his mamma’s arse and ended up as a brown stain on the mattress.

  2. Russell will have a great year and with the new system it will be necessary.
    If the defense surprises this will be a great year.

  3. Awards are great. Victories are better. If Russell contributes as he sometimes can? If it is on a consistent basis? ND may pick up additional victories.

  4. i think this is approriate. i love russell, but he did not play well at all last year. he had a couple of good games but that doesn’t warrant him to be on this list of premier defenders. nobody outside of south bend has any clue who this guy is….let’s see if me makes a name for himself b/c of a chip on his shoulder or if he just fades away like last year.

  5. I hope Russell doesn’t win it. I hope he has a spectacular season and finishes third among NOTRE DAME defensive backs, behind Cody Riggs and Max Redfield in the Thorpe voting. Opposing coordinators will study game film from last year and game plan and practice for a Farley clone. Except they get Maximum Max!

    Farley will see a few minutes, and will be an example of a player who in previous years would have gotten a fifth year but is a casualty of the studs in the 2015 recruiting class. No room for Farley—–and a few others.

    Russell will flower in the new defensive system. Even though he was raw and inexperienced as a frosh, he was a warrior, albeit a penalized one, against USC in the Coliseum as a frosh. Ask Robert Woods.

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