Most Improved: Alex Bars
Offensive lineman Alex Bars had only made two starts in 2015 before his redshirt freshman season ended with an injury. This year, Bars moved from guard to tackle, where he started the entire season and helped anchor the offensive line.
"The Holtzman": Deshone Kizer
The Holtzman: Notre Dame’s version of the Heisman for Most Outstanding Player. Redshirt sophomore quarterback DeShone Kizer accounted for 34 touchdowns in his final season at the helm of the Irish offense. He started every game and finished the season with 2,925 passing yards and 644 rushing yards. Despite his failure to lead the Irish to a winning season this fall, Kizer concluded a stellar career and will seek to join the ranks of NFL quarterbacks next season.
Defensive MVP: Nyle Morgan
Junior linebacker Nyles Morgan led the struggling Irish defense with 94 total tackles. He will return to anchor the 2017 defensive unit with hopes to build upon his experience as the primary run-stopper.
Offensive MVP: Equanimeous St. Brown
Sophomore wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown shined in his sophomore season as one of the brightest stars on a relatively bleak Irish offense, catching nine touchdowns and recording 961 receiving yards. Look for him to be one of quarterback Brandon Wimbush’s top targets next season.
Rudy Award: Josh Anderson
Josh Anderson, a graduate student walk-on, received a scholarship last fall for being a model student-athlete as he “modeled” the 2015 Shamrock Series uniforms.
Offensive FR of the Year: Kevin Stepherson
Wide receiver Kevin Stepherson amassed 462 yards on 25 receptions, starting three games and appearing in all 12. The shifty freshman averaged 18.5 yards per catch, the highest on the team.
Defensive FR of the Year: Devin Studstill
Safety Devin Studstill appeared in every game this season and recorded one interception, returning it for 30 yards. He bolstered a depleted Irish secondary, proving himself to be a solid defensive back with real potential to lead next year’s unit.
Rising Star: Brandon Wimbush
Brandon Wimbush will have the opportunity to become the starting quarterback in 2017. Coming off a redshirt season, he will undoubtedly be the key to the team’s success.
Mike Golic Award (Unsung Hero): Scott Daly
Scott Daly, a fifth-year long-snapper, has appeared in every game from 2013 to 2016. The man has been a reliable presence in an otherwise shaky year for Irish special teams.
Comeback Player of the Year: Drue Tranquill
Junior Drue Tranquill returned from two consecutive seasons ended by ACL injury to become the defense’s second leading tackler. He energized the Irish secondary with strong support in both run and pass defense.