Kelly to give keynote speech, receive award

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With a bit of time to breath between the end of recruiting and spring practice, Brian Kelly has decided to fill his social calendar.

Kelly will deliver the keynote address at the grand opening of the Eddie Robinson Museum in Grambling, Louisiana this weekend.

This from the official release:

“Everybody knows about the incredible number of games that Coach
Robinson won, but it’s how he did it that always impressed me,” Kelly
said. “The class he consistently displayed and his integrity are only a
couple items I was always impressed with.

“As the head coach at Notre Dame, I was only too excited to be
invited to be part of an event that we believe recognizes one of the
finest men in our coaching professions’ history. We like to think the
values he instilled in his players are cornerstones of our program as

Notre Dame’s first-year head coach ranks as the
sixth-winningest active coach in the NCAA football bowl subdivision in
terms of winning percentage and only three coaches have won more games
over the past three seasons than Kelly’s 33 victories. He helped
Cincinnati earn consecutive BIG EAST titles in 2008 and 2009 and led
Grand Valley State to NCAA Division II national championships in 2002
and 2003.

“We are extremely honored to have Coach Kelly join us in opening the
Eddie G. Robinson Museum,” said John Belton, Chairman of the Louisiana
governor-appointed Eddie G. Robinson Museum Commission. “Coach Kelly is
someone of whom Coach Robinson would have been extremely proud, knowing
the hard work, dedication, and commitment it takes to move up the
coaching ranks from a small Division II school to his dream job at
Notre Dame.”

I’m struggling to find the connection between Brian Kelly and Eddie Robinson, but it’s an incredible honor to be joined alongside Super Bowl winning head coach Mike Tomlin as one of two keynote speakers for the grand opening.

Meanwhile, the Columbus Dispatch has named Kelly the Ohio College Football Coach of the Year for the second straight year (presumably the last for a while), recognizing his undefeated record and his job guiding the Bearcats to the Sugar Bowl.

Kelly received 10 of the 20 first place votes for the award, more than doubling Jim Tressel at Ohio State.

It’s always interesting reading a different perspective on a coach or football program, and with Kelly’s departure such a acrimonious affair, it’s pretty telling that Ohio media would still find him head and shoulders above the rest of his contemporaries. The Sunday feature on Kelly portrayed the coach as a beat-the-odds type, paralleling his unlikely college football career at D-III Assumption to his ascension from graduate assistant to head coach of Grand Valley State in four quick years, at the young age of 28.

Running backs coach Tim Hinton even supplies a quote that describes Kelly as having the ultimate “players mentality.”

“The energy comes from someone who is so competitive,” Hinton said. “He understands when it’s
time to push, push and push. What he did at Cincinnati was unparalleled. Brian had a concise and
clear plan and doesn’t have a lot of buyer’s remorse. He knows the environment, recognizes his
strength and weaknesses and gets the job done.”

While the award probably won’t get equal billing on the Kelly family mantel with other national awards he took home, it gives another unique insight into the man tapped to lead the Irish back to greatness. 

Kizer named MVP at annual ECHOES awards

@NDFootball Twitter

DeShone Kizer was named the Monogram Club’s Most Valuable Player for the 2016 season at the 96th annual Notre Dame football awards banquet. Kizer was voted team MVP by his teammates, after throwing for 2,925 yards and 26 touchdowns and rushing for 472 yards and eight scores.

He was one of 15 players honored with an award at the “ECHOES,” with the following accolades being given:

Equanimeous St. Brown, Offensive Player of the Year.
James Onwualu, Defensive Player of the Year
Greer Martini, Next Man In award
Drue Tranquill, Rockne Student-Athlete Award
Cole Luke, Nick Pietrosante Award
Isaac Rochell, Lineman of the Year
Quenton Nelson, Offensive Lineman of the Year
Scott Daly, Special Teams Player of the Year
Alex Bars, Newcomer of the Year, Offense
Nyles Morgan, Newcomer of the Year, Defense
Ben Stuttman, Scout Team Player of the Year, Offense
Jonathan Jones, Scout Team Player of the Year, Defense
Mark Harrell, Father Lange Iron Cross
Tyler Newsome, Irish Around the Bend



Notre Dame names 7 captains for 2017 team

SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 17: Quenton Nelson #56 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrates after a 10-yard touchdown reception by Corey Robinson against the USC Trojans in the fourth quarter of the game at Notre Dame Stadium on October 17, 2015 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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Notre Dame named seven captains for the 2017 season, the most to wear the ‘C’ in school history. Quarterback DeShone Kizer, linebackers Greer Martini and Nyles Morgan, offensive linemen Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson, safety Drue Tranquill and walk-on receiver Austin Webster were all given the honor.

McGlinchey returns in the role, the 22nd different two-time captain in the program’s history. New to the job are the rest, including Kizer, who has yet to make a decision on if he’ll return for 2017 yet.

After worries about the team’s leadership heading into the 2016, the naming of captains in the immediate aftermath of the season is a change—Brian Kelly not naming his team’s official leaders into August training camp last year. It’s not an unprecedented move for Kelly (he named Harrison Smith and Michael Floyd team captains at the banquet following the 2010 season), though it points to some changes—some subtle, others not—that’ll likely take hold after a four-loss season.

Webster, a rising senior reserve wide receiver from California who has yet to register a stat in a Notre Dame uniform, made his debut as a sophomore in 2015 against UMass, is the first active walk-on to receive the honor.


Irish land blue-chip OL Aaron Banks

Tom Loy, Irish 247

Notre Dame received the commitment of 4-star offensive tackle Aaron Banks on Friday afternoon. Picking the Irish over a national offer list that included Michigan, Tennessee, and local programs USC and UCLA, the 6-foot-7, 335-pound Banks reminded all that even if the Irish only won four games this season, Harry Hiestand is still one of the premier offensive line coaches in the country.

Banks made the commitment from a ceremony at his high school in El Cerrito, California. And when he picked the Irish, he added to Notre Dame’s impressive offensive line haul, joining Dillan Gibbons, Joshua Lugg and Robert Hainsey — a key piece of the puzzle moving forward.

Banks is a consensus 4-star recruit and a Top 200 prospect. He took an official visit to Michigan in November, but has been a long-time target of Hiestand’s, visiting South Bend in September and welcoming Brian Kelly and Hiestand into his home after the USC game.

As a big recruiting weekend gets started at Notre Dame, the annual Echoes Awards will serve as the beginning of an important home stretch for a program without a bowl game. As Kelly still looks to lock in a defensive coordinator, not to mention other staff changes still in the air, Banks takes back some of the lost momentum, a key commitment heading into a holiday dead period before a furious finish leading into the first Wednesday in February.

Banks is No. 18 in the Irish recruiting class. He’s an early-enrollee, ready to hit campus within weeks and compete on the interior of the offensive line during spring ball.

Zaire says thank you to Notre Dame

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - SEPTEMBER 12: Quarterback Malik Zaire #8 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish rushes past defensive end Mike Moore #32 of the Virginia Cavaliers in the third quarter at Scott Stadium on September 12, 2015 in Charlottesville, Virginia. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish won, 34-27. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Big week for The Observer. Not just for its advertising revenues, but for the classy gesture that outgoing senior quarterback Malik Zaire made this week.

Thursday’s edition included a letter to the editor from Zaire, who took to the student newspaper not to make headlines around the internet, but rather to thank the university for his experience in South Bend.

While Zaire’s time at Notre Dame is drawing to a close, he will leave as a proud alum. So while he’ll play football next season at another university, Zaire wrote the following in Thursday’s issue:

Dear Notre Dame students and staff,

My life changed for the better the moment I stepped onto the University of Notre Dame’s beautiful campus. The one goal I had set in my mind to achieve was to become a better man, a Notre Dame man. After growing through many trials and triumphs, the thing I’ve learned most from my experience was that if you don’t believe in yourself first, then no one else will. I believed in becoming a better man and succeeding through any circumstance, and I can say that I’ve truly accomplished that. I often refer to the famous quote from the movie “Catch Me If You Can” that was well put by Frank Abagnale:

“Two little mice fell in a bucket of cream. The first mouse quickly gave up and drowned. The second mouse wouldn’t quit. He struggled so hard that eventually he churned that cream into butter and crawled out.”

I’ve put my heart, soul and passion into the University, the football program, the South Bend community and the Irish community worldwide. I have the unbelievable honor to represent this University to the fullest as a student and soon-to-be alumni. Thank you to the amazing students and staff that I’ve met through the years for helping me grow into the person I’ve always wanted to be. I love the Irish and will always be an Irish alum no matter where I go! I look forward to keeping in touch. Let’s change the world!

Go Irish!

Malik Zaire

Dec. 7

Zaire is expected to compete for a starting quarterback job next year as a graduate transfer. He’s reportedly taken a visit to Wisconsin and plans to visit North Carolina as well, just two of several programs on the radar as Zaire looks to step in and win a starting Power 5 job.