Notebook: Outland Trophy names Notre Dame OL Liam Eichenberg a finalist

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

Only two players stand in Liam Eichenberg’s path to winning the Outland Trophy.

Notre Dame’s starting left tackle for the last 37 games was named Tuesday as one of three finalists for the annual award given to college football’s best interior lineman on offense or defense. He was joined on the list by Alabama left tackle Alex Leatherwood and Iowa defensive tackle Daviyon Nixon.

Eichenberg became the first Outland Trophy finalist for the Irish since left guard Quenton Nelson in 2017, who was beat out by Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver. Only three Notre Dame players have won the Outland Trophy since its inception in 1946: tackle George Connor (1946), guard Bill Fischer (1948) and defensive end Ross Browner (1976).

The All-America Committee of the Football Writers Association of America selected the three Outland Trophy finalists.

The 6-foot-6, 302-pound Eichenberg added some hardware from the ACC earlier Tuesday when he was named the winner of the Jacobs Blocking Trophy. A poll of the ACC’s head coaches and defensive coordinators resulted in Eichenberg receiving the award given to the most outstanding blocker in the conference.

Eichenberg was named ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week twice this season for his blocking efforts against Pittsburgh and North Carolina.

More Owusu-Koramoah

A day after winning the Butkus Award as college football’s top linebacker, Notre Dame rover Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah was named Tuesday as one of three finalists for the Bednarik Award.

The title of best defensive player in college football, as deemed by Maxwell Football Club members, college head coaches, sports information directors and selected national media, will be given to Owusu-Koramoah, Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain II or Tulsa linebacker Zaven Collins.

Owusu-Koramoah recorded 56 tackles, 11 tackles for a loss, three forced fumbles, three pass breakups, two recovered fumbles, two quarterback hurries, 1.5 sacks and one interception in Notre Dame’s 11 games this season.

Coaching honors

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly was recognized as one of the top college football coaches in the country in multiple ways Tuesday.

He was selected as one of eight finalists for the Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of the Year Award after being named ACC Coach of the Year by the same committee. The other seven finalists up for the honor include Indiana’s Tom Allen, Iowa State’s Matt Campbell, Coastal Carolina’s Jamey Chadwell, Oregon’s Mario Cristobal, Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher, Alabama’s Nick Saban and Clemson’s Dabo Swinney.

Kelly was also named one of five finalists for the Dodd Trophy, which recognizes the country’s top head coach who exhibits the qualities of integrity, leadership and scholarship. Kelly was joined as a finalist by Allen, Campbell, Cincinnati’s Luke Fickell, and Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald.

Kelly won the Dodd Trophy in 2018.

All-ACC honors

If Notre Dame linebacker Drew White needs any extra motivation, he can look to the All-ACC honors announced by the conference Tuesday. Of the 15 Notre Dame players who have started at least 10 games on offense or defense this season, White was the only one to not receive at least honorable mention from the conference.

The Irish landed five players on the first team, three players on the second team, four players on the third team and six others on honorable mention.

Both Clemson and Notre Dame received 12 spots on the first, second and third teams, which were voted on by 49 media members and the conference’s 15 head coaches. No other team had more than seven.

• First team: OT Liam Eichenberg, OG Aaron Banks, OG Tommy Kraemer, LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, S Kyle Hamilton

• Second team: RB Kyren Williams, OT Robert Hainsey, DT Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa

• Third team: QB Ian Book, TE Michael Mayer, C Jarrett Patterson, CB Nick McCloud

• Honorable mention: WR Javon McKinley, TE Tommy Tremble, DE Daelin Hayes, DE Adetokunbo Ogundeji, DT Kurt Hinish, S Shaun Crawford

Former Notre Dame left tackle Liam Eichenberg (74) wants those who doubt his athleticism to turn on his film to evaluate his play.