Saturday, December 13, 2003

Irish POYs. Shouldn't be too much controversy here, unless I fell asleep and put someone at the wrong position.

QB: Brady Quinn. He's the future, and he showed he can be calm under pressure. Finally the Irish have a reliable passing attack. Runner up: Carlyle Holiday. Took the demotion with class, and tried to help the team any way he could.
HB: Monogram Club MVP Julius Jones. Duh. With strength and speed, he finally lived up to his potential and made the OLine better by giving them confidence.
FB: Knute Rockne Scholar-Athlete Josh Schmidt. In true Rockne style, went from interhall to the varsity, and showed the greatest hands out of the backfield. Runner Up: Rashon Powers-Neal. Started making catches towards the end of the season. Now all he needs to do is convince the coaching staff to run him up the middle on 3rd and 2, instead of going to the shotgun.
OL: Had a tough time with this one, and I wanted to give 1 award per OLine position, but instead I'll just go with these three guys (and feel free to ream me out on this one; unfortunately OLine guys normally go unnoticed unless they screw up or they're Jeff Faine): Ryan Harris of MTV and frosh All-America fame, Bob Morton who stepped up and stole the center job from Zach Giles, and Jim Molinaro, who must have done something right to have been named a captain.
TE: Antony Fasano. Looks like this award was going to Jared Clark, but Fasano actually finished ahead of Clark in catches. Another piece of the puzzle for this offense's future.
WR: Rhema McKnight. He can break the big one or go over the middle for a 3rd down conversion. A nice weapon for Quinn to have. Runner up: Captain Omar Jenkins. I considered giving this to Jeff Samardzija, since he'll probably be Quinn's go-to guy someday, but then I looked at the numbers and realized that Jenkins once had another Omar Jenkins season, quiet but great.
DT: In the shocking upset of this column, the award goes to the Moose Krause Chapter of the National Football Foundation and the Hall of Fame Lineman of the Year Cedric Hilliard. He blocked Mike's first ever Bookstore shot, and he also improved his fitness greatly, staying in the game longer and being able to move more to get to the ball. Close Runner Up: Captain Darrell Campbell, because I know him, and he's very large. Had another solid season, and did have to fight double teams most of the time. I'm not worried at all about his future, and I'm sure he'll take the Nick Pietrosante award (see article linked above) over a Kanka POY award any day. Both of these guys will do just fine in the NFL. Can't wait til draft day so I can order my Darrell custom NFL jersey.
DE: Justin Tuck. Wait, what? I actually like the guy now? He had a great year. Third on the team in tackles, and first in TFL, he's finally lived up to all the praise everyone's been throwing at him over the years. Keep up the good work. Runner Up: Westwood One/State Farm Student-Athlete of the Year Kyle Budinscak. Had a solid season cut short my injury, but he'll be back.
ILB: Senator Courtney Watson. Had another great year, although has he lost a step (the Syracuse interception)? He'll catch on somewhere in the NFL, even if he is "undersized."
OLB: Brandon Hoyte. You might not recognize him as a dominating linebacker by meeting him without pads on, but this run-stopper finished second to only Watson in tackles this year. Runner Up: Paul Green's freshman roommate Derek Curry was 4th on the team in tackles, and had 2 picks and 2 forced fumbles.
CB: Captain Vontez Duff. An off year for Vontez, but he proved he can shut down some good receivers.
S: Glenn Earl. Even though he missed half a season, he was still the best guy the secondary had, and still finished second in tackles by a DB to Quentin Burrell. He'll do well in the NFL, as he'll probably start off at special teams, where he can once again block and return every single kick and punt that comes his way. Runners Up: Burrell and Garron Bible. Both struggled, but finally got it together by the end of the year. The story of the season for the whole team.
K: Well, I'll give you a hint - it's someone Ellen LOOOVES. And no, it's not Chad, Toby, or me. It's DJ Fitzpatrick. For a walk on, he did a great job in his double-duty role. Sure, he wasn't hitting 50 yard punts, but this guy is a walk on - Nick Setta wasn't supposed to get hurt. DJ did a fine job, considering at most schools a backup kicker would be 2/15 in FGs with a 25 yard punt average. Runner Up: Setta. We were spoiled by the Setta/Joey Hildbold years. Let's hope this freshman punter can do enough that we don't have to miss those two too much.