Two Notre Dame football players earn preseason recognition

South Bend Tribune

Two Notre Dame players earned recognition Tuesday with the announcement of the latest preseason watch lists. Senior Nick Martin is among the players up for the Rimington Trophy, which goes to the nation's most outstanding center while senior Ben Koyack is up for the Mackey Award, which is awarded to the country's top tight end.

Martin, who retains two seasons of eligibility, started 11 games last fall before suffering a season-ending knee injury in the Nov. 23 BYU game. Martin missed spring practice as he recovered but said this spring he expects to be fully ready to play this fall. Martin is the younger brother of former Irish offensive tackle Zack Martin, who this spring was a first-round draft choice of the Dallas Cowboys.

Koyack, who also earned a spot on last season's Mackey watch list, came to Notre Dame as one of the nation's top tight ends but caught just four passes combined over his first two seasons as 2012 Mackey winner Tyler Eifert and Troy Niklas caught the bulk of the balls thrown to ND's tight ends. Eifert was a first-round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2013 NFL Draft while Niklas went to the Arizona Cardinals in the second round of this year's draft.

Koyack began to emerge last season as he caught 10 passes, three of them touchdowns. With Niklas gone early to the NFL, Koyack is expected to become ND's top receiving option at the position.

Watch lists for the Lou Groza (top placekicker) and Ray Guy (top punter) awards will be announced Wednesday. Irish senior specialist Kyle Brindza is strong candidate to be included on both lists.

Notre Dame tight end Ben Koyack (18) celebrates after catching a deep catch, originally ruled a touchdown that was later overturned after review during an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013, at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. (SBT File Photo/JAMES BROSHER)
Notre Dame's Christian Lombard, left, and Nick Martin during the Notre Dame vs. Michigan game on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013, at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich. (SBT File Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN)