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Monday, December 22, 2008

2nd Annual OC Domer Player of the Year Award

The ballots are in. The results have been tabulated. It's time to announce recipient of the 2008 "OC Domer Player of the Year Award." The OC Domer Player of the Year Award is intended to recognize the Notre Dame football player or players who played the best when it mattered the most. The award is based on a horrendously complex and intricate scoring system that would take too long to explain and that you wouldn't understand anyway. Suffice it to say that the primary criterion was a consistently high level of play, with significant bonus points awarded for exceeding expectations.

Last year, the winner of the first ever OC Domer Player of the Year Award was David Bruton. Congratulations to David for having another terrific season in 2008, and good luck to him in the upcoming NFL draft. I look forward to watching him play on Sundays for many years to come.

The OC Domer Player of the Year for the 2008 football season goes to: Michael Floyd.

The freshman wide receiver from St. Paul, Minnesota came to Notre Dame as a highly regarded prospect. From his Notre Dame bio page:

Gatorade Player of the Year for Minnesota as a junior and senior ... named Minnesota Player of the Year as a junior and senior by the Associated Press ... named first-team All-American by USA Today following his senior season ... placed on Parade All-America team as one of the 58 best players in the country and one of four all-purpose players ... one of 30 players named to the EA Sports All-America first team ... named a second-team All-American by Scout.com ... earned first-team all-state accolades from the Minnesota Associated Press as a junior and senior ... recipient of 2007 Minnesota Mr. Football award ... named the state's Player of the Year by St. Paul Pioneer Press ... ranked the top wide receiver and the third-best player on the Detroit Free Press' Best of the Midwest Top 20 list ... rated the 15th-best player in the nation by Tom Lemming and CSTV ... Scout.com ranked him as the 16th-best prospect in the country ... touted as the 27th-best player in the country by Rivals.com ... ranked No. 28 by Sports Illustrated/TAKKLE.com ... rated the 29th-best player on the ESPN 150 list ... labeled by Scout.com as the top player in Minnesota and the fifth-best wide receiver in the country ... Rivals.com considered him the top player in Minnesota and sixth-best wide receiver in the nation.
But, quite frankly, I've seen recruits arrive in South Bend year after year with impressive accolades and lofty expectations only to watch them get mired in the depth chart, or lost in the crowd, or hurt, or to just fizzle out once they get onto the field. Can anybody say "whooosh!"? So I was hopeful that Mike Floyd would inject some talent into the roster at wide receiver, and that he might actually push for playing time in 2008.

I had no idea that he would absolutely blow up the depth chart and establish himself as one of the top 2 Irish receivers before there was even a hint of Autumn cool in the air in South Bend. Yet that is what he did, as he set about re-writing the record books for Notre Dame freshman receivers. He scored a touchdown on his first catch for the Irish in the first game of the year, against San Diego State. Welcome to Notre Dame!

Floyd absolutely transformed the Notre Dame offense.

Pre-Floyd, the Irish had one real threat at the receiver position, Golden Tate, who could be taken out of the game fairly easily with one good cornerback and a little safety help. The other Notre Dame receivers did not strike fear in any defensive coordinators, as they lacked the speed to stretch the field or run away from coverage. The result was that opposing defenses were confident in their ability to defend the Irish down the field with minimal manpower, thus freeing up defenders to play run defense at the line of scrimmage or to blitz Jimmy Clausen. But once Floyd took the field, the game changed. You can't double team everyone, and both Tate and Floyd are talented enough to make any single defender look really bad on the instant replay. If you choose to focus on either of them, the other will kill you. Both guys can score from anywhere on the field. If you try to taken them both away with safety help, TE Kyle Rudolph will exploit the seam in the middle of the field. The bottom line is that having both Tate and Floyd in the lineup causes major headaches for opposing defenses, presenting them a lot of tough choices. The obvious choice is to respect Notre Dame's passing game a lot more by committing more defenders to the secondary, which frees up the ground game for guys like Armando Allen, Robert Hughes and James Aldridge.

Although only a freshman, Michael Floyd changed the personality of the Irish offense from a dink-and-dunk attack with a pedestrian running game to a dynamic quick-strike attack that could score touchdowns from anywhere on the field. In essentially a nine-game season (he was injured very early in the 10th game, against Navy), Floyd broke Notre Dame's single-season receiving records by a freshman with 46 catches for 702 yards (15.3 yards per catch) and seven touchdowns. Floyd has earned all-freshman second team honors from Sporting News, CollegeFootballNews.com, Rivals.com and Phil Steele.

Congratulations to Michael Floyd on a great freshman campaign and on being named the 2008 OC Domer Player of the Year. I look forward to seeing Michael back on the field for the Irish against Hawaii on Christmas Eve
, and for the next three full football seasons.

OC Domer Player of the Year Runner-up was: Golden Tate. When I asked for input from OC Domer readers about who the Player of the Year should be, Golden was right there with Michael Floyd as a vote-getter. Golden had a great year and he should be congratulated and thanked for his terrific play. In the end, a key factor in choosing the OC Domer Player of the Year is the degree to which a player surprises the voters (i.e., me) by far exceeding expectations. Golden was outstanding this year, but for the most part he was expected to be very good. Thus he didn't garner as many points for exceeding expectations as Floyd.

OC Domer Player of Year Honorable Mentions go to: Mike Anello and Brandon Walker.


Who are your Notre Dame Players of the Year? I'd love to hear from you.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Golden Tate....the man comes to play. He's there when you need something special.