We handed out our own awards on Friday, but the official Notre Dame awards banquet – The Echoes – was held Friday night and it featured a lot of hardware. Notre Dame celebrated their 12-0 regular season with the annual gala and made sure that everyone who played a major role in that perfect record was was recognized. Here’s a quick recap.
Team MVP, Ian Book
Greg handed out the Team MVP Award to Drue Tranquill in the UHND awards, but it was Notre Dame’s new QB1 that took home the official Team MVP Award last night. Book’s meteoric rise this year is just another reason why college football is so great. Book went from being the backup to Wimbush who most felt would fall to 3rd on the depth chart to incoming freshman Phil Jurkovec to leading the Irish to the college football playoff as one of the most accurate and efficient quarterbacks in the country.
2017 Winner: Quenton Nelson
Defensive Player of the Year, Tevon Coney
Part of the reason Notre Dame was able to finish the regular season undefeated was the decision of Coney along with Jerry Tillery and Drue Tranquill to return for their senior seasons. Coney had another 100 tackle season this year and enhanced his NFL Draft stock in the process by improving his coverage skills. Greg had Julian Love as the defensive MVP and it is very easy to make the case for Love here too, but Coney is a more than deserving recipient as well.
2017 Winner: Nyles Morgan
Offensive Player of the Year, Miles Boykin
A year ago at this time if you told someone that Boykin would be Notre Dame’s offensive player of the year, they’d have looked at you like you were crazy. Boykin was an afterthought on the Irish roster a year ago. That was until his miraculous touchdown against LSU in the Citrus Bowl propelled him up the Notre Dame depth chart. Boykin was Notre Dame’s leading receiver and Ian Book’s most dependable target. He is eligible for a 5th year and there is talk he could leave early but that would be a bit surprising as Boykin’s draft stock might not be that high currently.
2017 Winner: Josh Adams
New Man In, Brandon Wimbush
This one is a no brainer. No one on the Irish roster exemplifies the idea of being the next man in more than Brandon Wimbush. After losing the starting quarterback position to Book in week four, Wimbush was a role model teammate. Sure enough, his number was called again in 2018 when Book missed Senior Day with a rib injury. Wimbush stepped in and led the Irish to a 42-13 win in what was likely his last game in Notre Dame Stadium.
2017 Winner: Andrew Trumbetti
Walk-on Players Union Award, Chris Finke
Another no-brainer, but we really need to stop associating Finke with being a former walk-on. He is a legit college receiver and he could even have a NFL future with his ability to play in the slot – a position with some renewed importance in the pros. Like Boykin, Finke can come back for a 5th year. Finke and Book are developing their chemistry still and had the chance for a few more big plays this year that they couldn’t connect on. With more time playing together they will connect on more of them.
2017 Winner: Robert Regan
Newcomer of the Year Offense, Dexter Williams
This one was probably a stretch since Williams has seen action in each of the last three seasons although he was relied upon as a feature running back for the first time in his career. Williams struggled in pass protection over his first three years, but once he came back into the lineup after his four game suspension, he showed markable improvement in that department. Williams is going to be collecting a nice NFL paycheck next year.
2017 Winner: Brandon Wimbush
Newcomer of the Year Defense, Alohi Gilamn
Last year Gilman was stuck on the scout team thanks to the NCAA’s ruling that he could not be granted a transfer waiver. He made the most of that time by being named Scout Team Player of the year. A year later, Gilman was unleashed on the Notre Dame defense and made as big of an impact as everyone had hoped he would. Gilman was a monster at safety and looks to have a very bright future for Notre Dame with two years of eligibility remaining.
2017 Winner: Jonathan Bonner
Back of the Year, Julian Love
This was a new award this year and this too might have been a stretch in that they wanted to make sure that Love got an award this year and Coney got the Defensive MVP. Love is a future 1st round pick – possibly as soon as this spring – and the best cornerback to play for the Irish since the early 90’s.
2017 Winner: New award for 2018
Lineman of the Year, Jerry Tillery
Jerry Tillery repeated as the Lineman of the Year for the Irish this year. Next year there will be some serious competition for this award between Khalid Kareem, Julian Okwara, and Daelin Hayes – assuming all three return as they are expected to. For this year, Tillery was the veteran leader. His play did quiet down a bit after his monster performance against Stanford, but he too will be collecting a nice NFL playcheck.
2017 Winner: Jerry Tillery
Offensive Lineman of the Year, Sam Mustipher
This would have been an interesting battle this year had Alex Bars not gotten hurt. With Bars out for the year since week five though, Mustipher was the obvious choice. Last year Mike McGlinchey took home the honors while Quenton Nelson was named MVP.
2017 Winner: Mike McGlinchey
Impact Player of the Year Offense, Chase Claypool
Last year there was just one “Impact Player of the Year” but this year they split the award up between offense and defense. Claypool had a very slow start to his season but really started to come into his own in the second half of the year. When Wimbush was running the offense Claypool was not nearly as effective as he was once Book took over. Claypool still has a lot of room to grow and get better as well. Hopefully some of that happens in the next three weeks.
2017 Winner: New award for 2018
Impact Player of the Year Defense, Julian Okwara
Impact Player is a very adept description of Julian Okwara. He was an impactful player all season long. His stat sheet didn’t really start to fill out sack wise until the end of the year, but even early on, Okwara was piling up pressures and hurries. Eventually the sacks came as well. Assuming he comes back next year for his senior year and packs on a few more lbs this off-season, he could be a real nightmare on the edge for the Notre Dame defense.
2017 Winner: Tevon Coney (In 2017 there was only one Impact Award winner)
- Nick Pietrosante Award, Tyler Newsome (2017 Winner: Austin Webster)
- Special Teams Player of the Year, Justin Yoon (2017 Winner: Greer Martini)
- Scout Team Player of the Year Defense, Ovie Oghoufu (2017 Winner: Alohi Gilman)
- Scout Team Player of the Year Offense, Mick Assaf (2017 Winner: Dillan Gibbons)
- Father Lange Irish Cross Award, Alex Bars (2017 Winner: Durham Smythe)
- Around the Bend Award, Nic Weishar (2017 Winner: Nic Weishar)
- Humble and Hungry Award, Jonathan Bonner (2017 Winner: New award in 2018)