The ballots are in. Actually, they've been in for a while, collecting dust as I've been too busy/distracted to count them. But the results have finally been tabulated. It's time to announce recipient of the 2009 "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.
Past winners of this prestigious award are David Bruton (2007) and Michael Floyd (2008). Bruton is now playing on Sundays for the Denver Broncos, while Floyd had another amazing year for Notre Dame, finishing second on the team in both receptions (44) and receiving yards (795) despite missing (only) five games with a broken collar bone. Hopefully Michael will get himself squared away after his recent off-field embarrassment and will have a truly monster 2010 season in Brian Kelly's high-revving spread offense.
The OC Domer Player of the Year for the 2009 football season is: Golden Tate.
Expectations for Golden Tate coming into the 2009 season could hardly have been higher. He was expected to team up with mates Michael Floyd, Kyle Rudolph, and Jimmy Clausen as part of a prodigious offense that would lead the Fighting Irish to a 10-win (or better) season, a BCS Bowl berth, and maybe if everything fell right a chance at playing for a National Championship. Given the importance of "exceeding expectations" in the the judging for OC Domer Player of the Year, Tate had to be considered a long shot for this honor, since he was expected to be an All-American. But he didn't just play great. He amazed us. And when Michael Floyd was out with a broken collar bone and quarterback Jimmy Clausen was hobbled by "turf toe" that turns out to have really been "torn-ligaments-toe", Golden Tate carried his football team on his back. He played wide receiver, running back, quarterback, and more while willing his team to nail-biting wins with highlight-reel catches and runs to rival any in the history of Notre Dame football. Speaking of highlight reels, here is the Golden reel from 2009:
How amazing was 2009 for Golden Tate? Here's an excerpt from a recent Notre Dame press release recognizing his selection as an All-American:
Congratulations to OC Domer 2009 Player of the Year Golden Tate! And thank you Golden for giving everything you had for Notre Dame over the past three seasons. Good luck in the NFL!
The 2009 Biletnikoff Award winner, Tate recently capped off the best receiving season in Notre Dame football history. He finished with 93 receptions for 1,496 yards and 15 receiving touchdowns in 2009. Tate added two rushing touchdowns, one punt return for a score and totaled 1,915 all-purpose yards, second most in Irish single-season history.
Tate equaled or surpassed eight school records this year, including most catches and receiving yards in a season, tied for most touchdown catches in a season, most receiving yards in a career, most 100-yard receiving games in a season and career, most receiving yards per game in a season and tied for most consecutive games with a touchdown reception.Tate ranks in the top eight nationally in nine different statistical categories and no wide receiver had more games with at least 100 receiving yards this year than Tate's nine. He also scored at least one touchdown in each of the final 11 contests for Notre Dame.
Tate, who recently declared his intention to enter the 2010 NFL draft, departs as the most prolific receiver in Notre Dame history. He recorded 2,707 receiving yards on 157 receptions with 26 touchdowns. Tate ranks second in career touchdown receptions and is tied for third in career receptions.
OC Domer Player of the Year Runner-up is: Jimmy Clausen. Jimmy just completed his best season at Notre Dame, completing 68 percent of his passes for 3,722 yards with 28 TDs and only four interceptions in 2009. He set a school record by passing for at least 300 yards in seven games and his four fourth-quarter comebacks for victories are the most in a season by an Irish quarterback. Clausen is ranked first or second in 32 passing categories at Notre Dame, including tops in career completion percentage, completions per game for a career and tied for first in lowest interception percentage over a career. He completed 695 of 1,110 pass attempts for 8,148 yards with 60 touchdowns and 27 interceptions while starting 34 of 35 games played for the Irish. Jimmy is expected to be a first round pick in the upcoming NFL Draft, although his ranking by various draft pundits is quite variable. However it plays out, I hope JC's surgically repaired toe heals well and quickly, and I hope he represents Notre Dame with distinction in "The League."
OC Domer Player of Year Honorable Mention goes to: Manti Te'o. Although he arrived a little too late to save Charlie's job, Manti was easily the most highly decorated defensive player to come to Notre Dame in the Charlie Weis era (Named 2008 High School Athlete of the Year by Sporting News. Defensive player of the year by USA Today. Inaugural high school recipient of the Butkus Award, given to the best linebacker in the country. Two-time recipient of Hawaii Gatorade Player-of-the-Year award in 2007 and 2008. Sporting News rated him the top defensive player in the nation and second-best player in the country. Rated second-best overall prospect in the ESPNU150 and best linebacker according to ESPN. Et cetera, et cetera). Expectations were high for Manti, but I was surprised by how much impact he had as a true freshman. He ranked fourth on the team with 63 tackles including 5.5 tackles for loss, one sack and added one pass breakup. He played in all 12 games and started nine contests. His 63 tackles were the most by a Notre Dame freshman since 1975 and the third most all time by an Irish freshman. Te'o became a full-time starter for Notre Dame in the fifth game of the season against Washington and he ranked second on the Irish with 57 tackles over the final eight games. Te'o is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and he recently announced that he will be delaying his traditional mission trip for at least one year and possibly until later in his life, which means he will continue at Notre Dame during his sophomore year and will be a member of the Irish football team in 2010. And there was much joy throughout the land.
Who are your Notre Dame Players of the Year? I'd love to hear from you.