Drue Tranquill

Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Pac-12 defensive stars headline Lott IMPACT Trophy semi-finalists

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The semifinalists for this year’s Lott IMPACT Trophy have been announced, and it is quite an impressive short list of some of college football’s finest defensive talents. Among the semifinalists for the award are Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick and Iowa linebacker Josey Jewel. The Pac-12 leads all conferences with three semi-finalists.

The Lott IMPACT Trophy honors the nation’s best player that exhibits the qualities of former NFL All-Pro Ronnie Lott; integrity, maturity, performance, academics, community, and tenacity.

In addition to three players from the Pac-12, this year’s semifinalists include two players from the Big 12, and one player each from the ACC, Big Ten, and SEC. Notre Dame is also represented by safety Drue Tranquill. A Big Ten player has won the award each of the past two seasons with Penn State defensive end Carl Nassib winning the award in 2015 and Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers receiving the award last season.

The 2017 Lott IMPACT Trophy Semi-Finalists

Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama
Malik Jefferson, DE, Texas
Josey Jewell, LB, Iowa
Micah Kiser, LB, Virginia
Hercules Mata’afa, DL, Washington State
Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, LB, Oklahoma
Harrison Phillips, DL, Stanford
Cameron Smith, LB, USC
Drue Tranquill, S, Notre Dame

Irish lose another key player (Drue Tranquill) to season-ending injury

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Another week, another key Notre Dame player lost for the year. Sophomore safety Drue Tranquill, who was injured in Saturday’s victory over Georgia Tech while celebrating with his teammate son the field, has a torn ACL. His season is now cooked, as announced by Notre Dame today.

Tranquill underwent surgery for a torn ACL last November, but that surgery was on his left knee. This latest ACL injury is in his right knee.

At some point conventional wisdom would suggest the mounting injuries will catch up to Notre Dame somewhere along the way. If the Irish continue to pull out wins despite the injuries piling up, then Brian Kelly needs to be recognized for some tremendous coaching efforts this season.

Tranquill’s injury means Notre Dame has lost six players for the season to various injuries. Last week the Irish lost quarterback Malik Zaire and tight end Durham Smythe and running back Tarean Folston was lost following the season opener. Notre Dame also saw defensive back Shaun Crawford and defensive tackle Jarron Jones go down for the year in preseason camp.

C.J. Prosise powers No. 8 Notre Dame by No. 14 Georgia Tech

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It wasn’t supposed to be so easy. Not with so many key injuries to key players. Not with a young quarterback. Not against a Georgia Tech team that many feel will challenge for the ACC title, if not just the ACC Coastal Division.

But it was. For about 50 minutes at least.

No. 8 Notre Dame (3-0) defeated No. 14 Georgia Tech 30-22 Saturday in South Bend, with the Irish holding off a late surge from the visitors. The win will immediately leave many to validate Notre Dame as a worthy pick for the College Football Playoff, but it may be wiser to hold off on that for now. This Notre Dame team is good, and if Saturday was any indication there is a chance for them to be very good. But injuries have a way of catching up to a team eventually. They did not this time around, and head coach Brian Kelly should be respected for that. Kelly should feel fortunate to have C.J. Prosise running the football.

Prosise rushed for a game-high 198 yards and three touchdowns for the Irish. All three touchdowns came at perfect times for Notre Dame as well, with one late in the first half to give the Irish a 13-7 lead at halftime, and two more in the fourth quarter putting the game well out of reach for a Georgia Tech offense unable to get much going against Notre Dame’s solid defensive effort.

Georgia Tech did get the bulk of their yards on the ground, but the one-dimensional offense could not fool Notre Dame, who showed the kind of speed to keep up as Georgia Tech looked to spread the field on the ground.

Young quarterback DeShone Kizer showed the poise of a junior at times, completing 21 of 30 passes for 231 yards and a touchdown (he was picked off once).

It was not all happy times for Notre Dame though. Drue Tranquill’s injury after celebrating a touchdown led to him being stranded on the sideline sin the second half with the aid of crutches.

Notre Dame will host a feisty UMass squad next week. The Minutemen are an improved program this fall, but Notre Dame should be looking forward to taking a 4-0 record with them when they visit Clemson in a couple of weeks. After that comes rivalry games with Navy and USC in October.

Georgia Tech will look to get back in the win column next week in Durham, North Carolina against ACC Coastal foe Duke. Like Georgia Tech, Duke will be looking to bounce back after a loss. The Blue Devils lost at home earlier in the day to Northwestern.