Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton named a Bednarik Award finalist

Eric Hansen
ND Insider
Notre Dame  safety Kyle Hamilton (14) during ND's 31-16 victory over USC before suffering a knee injury in that game, Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021, at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend.

A half a season of Kyle Hamilton was enough to convince the Bednarik Award voters.

The Notre Dame junior All-America free safety on Tuesday was named one of four finalists for the Bednarik, given annually to college football’s Defensive Player of the Year. The winner will be announced Dec. 9 during the Home Depot College Awards Show (7 p.m. EST, on ESPN).

Alabama outside linebacker Will Anderson, Jr., Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis and Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux are also in the running.

Hamilton suffered a knee injury in the first quarter of a 31-16 Irish victory over USC on Oct. 23 and hasn’t played or practiced since. The recovery timeline for Hamilton’s fat pad impingement injury, per head coach Brian Kelly, was six weeks from the date of the injury.

So, there’s a chance he would be available for a playoff game or bowl game.

The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Atlanta product has 35 tackles, including two for loss, this season. He has four pass breakups and is still tied for the team lead in interceptions (3) for an Irish squad that ranks fifth nationally in that statistical category, with 15.

In a 27-13 win over Purdue on Sept. 18, Hamilton helped limit Biletnikoff Award finalist David Bell to 64 receiving yards, roughly half his average output (120.7), which ranks fourth nationally.

Linebacker Manti Te’o in 2012 is the only previous Notre Dame player to win the award since its inception in 1995.

The list of finalists for all the individual awards under the Home Depot Awards umbrella were announced Tuesday, with no other Irish players on those lists. Among the notable omissions was Notre Dame sophomore tight end Michael Mayer from the Mackey Award finalist group.

Not all individual awards are included in the Home Depot Group. Irish junior running back Kyren Williams was previously announced as one of five finalists for the Paul Hornung Award.

That goes annually to the nation’s most versatile college football player. The winner will be announced on Dec. 8.

A panel of 17 voters will help select the winner, with an 18th ballot compiled from an online vote among fans. Fan voting for the winner continues through Dec. 6 at www.paulhornungaward.com.

Follow ND Insider Eric Hansen on Twitter: @EHansenNDI