Four Notre Dame players appear on Bednarik, Maxwell Award watch lists

IRISH STEW

Mike Vorel
South Bend Tribune

Four Notre Dame players appeared on the Bednarik and Maxwell Award preseason watch lists, which were released on Tuesday.

Junior quarterback Malik Zaire is the only Irish player on the watch list for the Maxwell Award, which is given annually to college football's player of the year. Zaire, who is set to enter his first season as Notre Dame's starting quarterback, has passed for 266 yards and a touchdown and ran for 187 yards and two scores thus far in his collegiate career.

Three Irish standouts — defensive tackle Sheldon Day, cornerback KeiVarae Russell and linebacker Jaylon Smith — made the watch list for the Bednarik Award, which honors the defensive player of the year. A 6-foot-2, 285-pound senior, Day racked up 40 tackles and 7.5 tackles for loss last season. Smith, the team's leading tackler in 2014, produced 112 tackles, nine tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks last season.

Russell missed the 2014 season because of an academic suspension, but returns to the Irish secondary this fall.

Notre Dame sophomore Jaylon Smith was named a First Team Preseason All-American by Phil Steele. (SBT Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN)