2015 ND Insider Notre Dame Football Awards


Mike Vorel
South Bend Tribune

Take away the fancy awards banquet, a physical trophy and any concrete sense of accomplishment gained from earning something valuable, and what do you get?

The 2015 ND Insider Notre Dame Football Awards, of course.

Before CFP and AP No. 8 Notre Dame gives out its annual season-ending awards at Echoes 15 inside the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center on Friday night, here are a few more awards for the 10-2 Irish.

Best Kelly-ism: Game-wrecker.

Game-wrecker (noun): a Notre Dame opponent that has the potential to wreck, damage, or destroy the Irish game plan.

OK, sure, but can you use it in a sentence, specifically referencing Clemson Heisman Finalist Deshaun Watson?

"We're going to have to play a better offense in all areas — offensive line, receivers, and then the quarterback obviously is the big threat here. He's a game-wrecker. We'll have to do a much better job than we did this past weekend."

Other notable game-wreckers: Virginia running back Taquan "Smoke" Mizzell, UMass wide receiver Tajae Sharpe, Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds, USC wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh wide receiver Tyler Boyd, Stanford running back/receiver/returner Christian McCaffrey.

Best Quote: DeShone Kizer, on Tom Brady and Michigan.

So, here's the backstory. When Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer first called Brian Kelly to verbally commit prior to his freshman season, Kelly was actually visiting the New England Patriots, sitting in the same room as star quarterback Tom Brady.

On Nov. 18, prior to Notre Dame's Shamrock Series game at Boston College in Fenway Park, a media member on the phone asked a question referencing this near-encounter.

Keep in mind, this was the last gasp of that particular press conference. It was the 27th of 29 questions, long after most reporters in attendance had shut off their video recorders and allowed their mind to wander.

Here was the exchange:

Q: When you called Coach Kelly to tell him that you were going to be coming to Notre Dame, I understand that Tom Brady was in the room when you made that call. If you had been aware of that, what would you have loved to ask Tom Brady?

A: That's a question that I could answer in a thousand ways. Why would he ever choose to head up north to a school like Michigan is probably the first question I want to ask him. (Laughter)

That's one of the best guys that ever played the position that I have, and to have an opportunity to sit down and have a conversation with him would be an ultimate dream.

Of course, when Michigan Twitter got wind of Kizer's lighthearted crack, it got spun, and spun, and spun into the stratosphere. In reality, this was little more than a throwaway joke at the end of a 20-minute interview. But it's also what the media can consistently appreciate about Kizer: he listens — really listens — to every question and provides a thoughtful, honest answer.

Sometimes at Michigan's expense.

Best Stiff Arm: Josh Adams

Technically, part of his award should also go to Wake Forest safety Ryan Janvion's head, because a lesser man's head would have ejected from its shoulders and caromed into the seats when Notre Dame freshman Josh Adams stiff-armed it into infinity.

The signature play in Notre Dame's 28-7 Senior Day victory over Wake Forest, Adams — making his first career start — took a hand off at his two-yard line, ran through a tackle, evacuated the hole and jammed his free hand into Janvion's face mask so forcefully that it's a miracle the face mask itself didn't disintegrate instantly into dust.

The result, of course, was a 98-yard touchdown run, the longest in school history. 


Notre Dame's Josh Adams (33) sprints past Wake Forest's Ryan Janvion (22) and Zach Dancel (9) on his way to a first half touchdown at Notre Dame Stadium, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, in South Bend. SBT Photo/BECKY MALEWITZ


Notre Dame’s Josh Adams (33) pushes past Wake Forest’s Ryan Janvion (22) on a 98-yard touchdown run during the Notre Dame-Wake Forest NCAA college football game on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend. SBT Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN

Best Failed Hurdle Attempt: DeShone Kizer

What goes up, must come down — sometimes, not so gracefully.

That was the case when the 6-foot-4, 230-pound Kizer attempted to hurdle 6-2 safety Marvell Tell III during Notre Dame's 41-31 victory over USC on Oct. 17. Thankfully, Kizer was uninjured, and he went on to pass for 227 yards and two touchdowns in a signature win.

Here's my series from Kizer's big fall/flip yesterday.

— Robert Franklin (@TheRobFranklin) October 18, 2015

Best Movie Soundtrack (according to Joe Schmidt): Rudy

At a captains press conference on Sept. 16, Schmidt — a former Notre Dame walk-on — was asked when he last watched the movie Rudy.

Here's the transcript, though the media's rebuttal didn't register on a microphone.

"Like two or three weeks ago we watched it, at the house. I think it's a great movie. It's kind of funny. But one of the greatest sound tracks of all time."


"As a movie sound track, you'll argue? Where are you going to go from there?"


"I don't know. Maybe I'm just a super Notre Dame fan, then."

(No further questions)

"Oh, we're going to end on that? I hear 'Rudy' coming out and these guys just go into a typing frenzy."

So, sorry, Star Wars. Sorry, Indiana Jones. Sorry, Last of the Mohicans. Sorry, Jurassic Park. Sorry, Titanic. Sorry, Jaws. Sorry, Frozen.

I'ma let you finish, but Rudy had one of the best movie soundtracks of all time (according to Joe)! 

Best Bowler: Jaylon Smith.

If Jaylon Smith went bowling on Saturday, that was bad news for the opponent. The 2015 Butkus Award winner racked up a team-leading 113 tackles this season, becoming the second Irish player in the Brian Kelly Era (after Manti Te'o) to eclipse 100 tackles in back-to-back seasons.

And after his biggest plays, the 6-3, 230-pound junior sprang into action, going through a bowling motion before watching those imaginary pins fall down.

But here's something you might not know: Smith also uses the bowling celebration ... after bowling.

Jerry Tillery and Jaylon Smith have very different bowling skill sets.

— Mike Vorel (@mikevorel) July 12, 2015

Did we just blow your mind?

Best Offensive Play Caller: Unknown.

Best Dancer: Jerry Tillery.

Don't argue. Just watch.

So, about last night...

— Mike Vorel (@mikevorel) October 18, 2015

Notre Dame's DeShone Kizer (14) pumps his fist as he is lifted up by teammates after running in his second touchdown during Notre Dame's 28-7 victory over Wake Forest, Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium (SBT Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN)