WR Chase Claypool named Notre Dame football's Most Valuable Player for 2019 season

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND — An unstoppable November led into an award-winning December for Chase Claypool.

On Friday night, the Notre Dame football program named the Irish senior as its 2019 Most Valuable Player at its annual awards show known as the Echoes.

In November alone, the Irish wide receiver caught 30 passes for 455 yards and eight touchdowns in five games. In that stretch, Claypool recorded more touchdown receptions than any other Irish teammate for the entire season, more receiving yards than all but one teammate (482 for tight end Cole Kmet) and more receptions than all but two teammates (Kmet’s 41 and wide receiver Chris Finke’s 35).

“I wish the season started in November,” Claypool joked. “That's fine. It's just the chemistry that me and (quarterback Ian) Book kind of accumulate over the year."

The 6-foot-5, 229-pound Claypool finished the regular season with 59 catches for 891 yards and 12 touchdowns. He currently sits in 10th place in program history for career touchdown catches for a wide receiver with 18.

Claypool isn’t worried that his hot streak with Book from November will cool off before the CFP No. 15 Irish (10-2) play Iowa State (7-5) in the Camping World Bowl in Orlando, Fla., on Dec. 28 (noon EST on ABC). Notre Dame will hold its first bowl practice on campus Saturday.

"I don't think something like that goes away after a couple weeks,” Claypool said, “so I think we'll be all right.”

Claypool was one of 21 Notre Dame players to win awards Friday night at the ceremony held inside the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center. Former Notre Dame offensive lineman and current Irish radio analyst Ryan Harris hosted the awards show.

Harris started the show with a roast of sorts by handing out superlatives to some Notre Dame players and coaches. The most clever included defensive end Khalid Kareem being named most likely to twist his ankle during the Echoes and head coach Brian Kelly named most likely to recover an onside kick for being on the field during USC’s onside kick attempt in the 30-27 Irish victory in October.

Senior quarterback Ian Book, who was the team’s MVP last season, was named the 2019 Offensive Player of the Year. Book became the first Irish player to surpass 2,500 passing yards, 500 rushing yards and 30 touchdown passes in a season.

Book fielded questions about former Notre Dame offensive coordinator Chip Long, who mutually parted ways with the Irish earlier this week. Long served as the Irish coordinator for all 22 of Book’s career starts in the last three seasons.

“He's the one that gave me my opportunity,” Book said. “I haven't played a game here without him. I couldn't thank him enough. When he's the one that gave you your shot, your lifelong dream to play college football, you can't short that at all.”

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly is scheduled to speak with reporters following Saturday’s practice. He’ll be asked how the Irish will move forward at offensive coordinator for the Camping World Bowl and beyond.

Notre Dame quarterbacks coach Tommy Rees would likely be an in-house candidate for a promotion. Book, who said everything he’s learned has come from Rees, would love to see Rees become an offensive coordinator.

“It would be a huge step for him,” Book said. “I know he obviously wants be an OC and head coach one day. It's one of his dreams. I believe in him wholeheartedly. No doubt about it. I'd be extremely excited about it. I know coach Kelly, whatever he does, will put us in the right situation. You guys all know how I feel about coach Rees."

Defensive end Khalid Kareem won his first Echo award when he was given the Defensive Player of the Year award. The senior tallied 45 tackles, 5.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery this season.

Despite missing the first two games of the season with a broken collarbone, Kmet was named the Impact Player on Offense. The junior tight end caught 41 passes for 482 yards and six touchdowns in 10 games.

On the defensive side, senior safety Alohi Gilman received the Impact Player award. Gilman notched 66 tackles, three tackles for a loss, two forced fumbles, one sack, one interception and one fumble recovery. Gilman won an Echo award in each of his three seasons at Notre Dame since transferring from Navy. He was given the Defensive Scout Team Player of the Year in 2017 and Defensive Newcomer of the Year in 2018.

Gilman said he still hasn’t decided if he will return to Notre Dame next season or pursue the NFL Draft.

“There are a lot of factors that play into this,” Gilman said. “Everyone’s situation is different. I think it’s kind of a personal thing, you have to look within yourself. Obviously, you’re going to get NFL (evaluations) and all that, but you have to look within yourself, see where you’re at within your career, look at what you’ve done and make a decision that’s best for you.”

Graduate student cornerback Shaun Crawford, who won the Pietrosante Award recognizing courage, loyalty, teamwork, dedication and team pride, has recently started to consider a possible return to Notre Dame as well. Because he missed two complete seasons because of injuries, Crawford could ask the NCAA for a medical hardship waiver that would grant him a sixth year of eligibility.

Crawford previously balked at the idea of returning for another season. Now he wants to talk to Notre Dame’s coaches and his family before making a decision.

“Just going through a season here,” Crawford said of rethinking the possibility of a sixth year. “It’s like no other. The memories, the opportunities. Earlier in the season, I wasn’t thinking about that. I was just thinking about being here for five years already, just ready to move on and things like that.

“But throughout the season, just memories we’ve created, the opportunities that were presented. It’s something you just can’t move on from and so you just definitely want to take thought in the next step, and I definitely will.”

Senior defensive end Julian Okwara, who needed to use crutches on stage as he recovers from his broken fibula, was named the Moose Krause Defensive Lineman of the Year. Junior offensive tackle Robert Hainsey, also injured with a broken ankle, received the Offensive Lineman of the Year award.

On offense, sophomore center Jarrett Patterson earned the Newcomer of the Year award. Junior linebacker Drew White and freshman safety Kyle Hamilton were named Co-Defensive Newcomers of the Year.

Senior running back Tony Jones Jr., who finished the regular season as the team’s leading rusher with 133 carries for 743 yards and five touchdowns, was selected as the Back of the Year.

For his play on multiple special teams units, linebacker Bo Bauer was given the Special Teams Player of the Year award.

Award Winners

Most Valuable Player: Chase Claypool

Offensive Player of the Year: Ian Book

Defensive Player of the Year: Khalid Kareem

Special Teams Player of the Year: Bo Bauer

Impact Player on Offense: Cole Kmet

Impact Player on Defense: Alohi Gilman

Offensive Newcomer of the Year: Jarrett Patterson

Co-Defensive Newcomers of the Year: Drew White and Kyle Hamilton

Offensive Lineman of the Year: Robert Hainsey

Moose Krause Lineman of the Year: Julian Okwara

Back of the Year: Tony Jones Jr.

Next Man In: Jamir Jones

Father Lange Iron Cross: Asmar Bilal

Rockne Student-Athlete: Chris Finke

Irish Around the Bend: Jalen Elliott

Pietrosante Award: Shaun Crawford

Humble & Hungry Award: Trevor Ruhland

WOPU Player of the Year: Mick Assaf

Offensive Scout Team Player of the Year: Brendon Clark

Defensive Scout Team Player of the Year: Isaiah Foskey

Notre Dame wide receiver Chase Claypool celebrates one of his 12 touchdown catches of the 2019 regular season.