Providing the official close to the 2007 season, the annual football banquet was held this past weekend. The mood was a bit more subdued and the crowd a bit smaller than in years past, as one might expect following a 3-9 campaign. Still, while the team as a whole had a rough year, the banquet provided a good opportunity to honor some of the individual standouts on the team. Here is a list of the award winners from the event.
Team MVP: Trevor Laws Knute Rockne Student-Athlete Award: Trevor LawsNo real surprises there with Laws and Carlson getting most of the awards. I'm sure some might raise an eyebrow at Sullivan winning the OL of the year award and Kuntz winning the Lineman of the Year award. I'm guessing the later was to recognize the yeoman's work that Kuntz did in the middle of the line absorbing the most punishment and helping to free things up for guys like Laws. Sullivan as OL of the year doesn't bother me because, frankly, all of the offensive lineman had their faults this year. If you're not sure what the Nick Pietrosante Award is for, it is defined as the "student-athlete who best exemplified the courage, loyalty, teamwork, dedication and pride of the late Irish All-America fullback."
Nick Pietrosante Award: John Carlson
Westwood One/State Farm Student-Athlete of the Year: John Carlson
Guardian of Year Award (for best OL): John Sullivan
Lineman of the Year: Pat Kuntz
The highlight of the night was the speech by former All-American and fellow blogger Aaron Taylor. You can watch the speech, along with Coach Weis's speech on und.com's All-Access. Taylor was honest and passionate about his time at ND. He also, like Coach Weis, spent time talking about the promise of the future as well as congratulating the current team and outgoing seniors.
"The answer to getting this program back on track," he told the underclassmen, "is you."Charlie, as per usual, was a little more blunt when it came to laying out what the younger players can do.
“Your season just started on Monday,” Weis said to his players in attendance. “If you want to do something about it, it all starts in the weight room. For the next of months, your season has already started.”Speaking of the future, it wasn't all that long ago when the annual end of the season banquet was the big recruiting day of the year. The team would gather to celebrate the end of yet another successful season and in the next issue of Blue and Gold Illustrated we found out about a new crop of recently committed recruits who pulled the trigger while attending the banquet.
The whole recruiting cycle has been accelerated and this year instead of trying to gain commits, ND was working to keep them. Fourteen publicly committed players were in attendance at the banquet as well as uncommitted offensive lineman Trevor Robinson. With various coaches undoubtedly bashing ND in an attempt to pry a few loose, it was good to see a bulk of the incoming class meeting and spending the weekend together. Really, one of the amazing things about this year isn't so much the caliber of the players in the current recruiting class but the fact that they all seem to still be fully committed and excited to turn things around.
One final note: ndnation poster RocketShark has a few pictures of the event including those of Taylor, Charlie, Trevor, and Carlson.