Notre Dame Football 2021 Watch List Tracker: Who Earned Preseason Honors?
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Notre Dame Football 2021 Watch List Tracker: Who Earned Preseason Honors?

Nothing screams college football is right around the corner but not quite here yet like preseason watch list season. Throughout July, coaches and players will see their names pop up among individuals who are the best at what they do in the sport on watch lists for awards to be handed out at the end of the year.

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly kicked things off for the Irish on July 13 by being named one of 17 coaches on the preseason watch list for the Dodd Trophy, which is given annually to the top coach in college football.

BlueandGold.com will track the rest of the Irish’s representatives as they are announced.

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Notre Dame Fighting Irish football head coach Brian Kelly
Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly is on the preseason watch list for the Dodd Trophy, given annually to the top coach in college football. (USA Today)

Kyren Williams: The Maxwell Award (July 19), The Doak Walker Award (July 21), Paul Hornung Award (July 29), Walter Camp Player Of The Year (July 30)

It’s not the Heisman Trophy, but it’s not a bad consolation prize. The Maxwell Award is presented to the top player in college football — offense or defense. Notre Dame junior running back Kyren Williams was named to the watch list for the prestigious award.

Notre Dame has had seven all-time Maxwell Award winners — end Leon Hart (1949), running back Johnny Lattner (1952 and 1953), linebacker Jim Lynch (1966), defensive end Ross Browner (1977), quarterback Brady Quinn (2006) and Te’o (2012) — since it was first issued in 1937.

Williams was also named to the Doak Walker Award watch list on July 21. The Doak Walker Award goes to the best running back in college football. No Notre Dame running back has won it since it was first awarded in 1990. Williams has a solid shot at being the first.

He could also be the first Notre Dame player to win the Paul Hornung Award, which recognizes the most versatile player in the game. He appeared on that watch list on July 29.

Williams added to his long list of preseason accolades by being named to the Walter Camp Player of the Year watch list on July 30. As the name suggests, it's given to the top player in college football. Notre Dame has four all-time winners.

Williams only carried the ball four times as a true freshman. He broke out as a sophomore with 1,125 yards and 13 touchdowns on 211 attempts. Notre Dame could lean heavily on the NFL prospect in 2021 because of the Irish’s unproven wide receiver corps.

Kyle Hamilton: The Bednarik Award (July 19), The Lott IMPACT Trophy (July 19), Jim Thorpe Award (July 26), Bronko Nagurski Trophy (July 27), Walter Camp Player of the Year (July 30)

It doesn’t get much better than the Bednarik Award for defensive players; it’s given annually to the top defensive player in the country. Junior safety Kyle Hamilton can join former Irish linebacker Manti Te’o as the only Notre Dame players to win it. Te’o took it home in 2012 when he guided the Irish to the national title game against Alabama.

Hamilton also made the list for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, which is given to the top defensive player in the country as well. Te'o won that award, too, in his record-setting 2012 season. He's the only Notre Dame player to have ever won it.

Unsurprisingly, Te’o won the Lott IMPACT Trophy, which is also awarded to the top defensive player in the game, in 2012 as well. The Bednarik Award was first presented in 1995. The Lott Trophy has been around since 2004. Te’o is the only Notre Dame player to have won either. Hamilton has a chance to back him up if he has the season many are expecting.

No Notre Dame player has ever won the Jim Thorpe Award, given to the country's best defensive back. Hamilton made the watch list for that award and has a great chance of making Irish history by winning it too.

Hamilton became the first Notre Dame player to land on five different watch lists when he joined Williams on the Walter Camp Player of the Year list.

Hamilton led Notre Dame with 63 tackles last season and ranked third in passes defended with six. Hamilton has shown up on several preseason First-Team All-America lists, including Athlon Sports and Pro Football Focus.

Jay Bramblett: Ray Guy Award (July 28)

It is never a bad thing for a team’s punter to be one of its best players. As much as fans dislike seeing a punter trot onto the field because it is a sign of a failed offensive possession, flipping field position can always be critical in close games.

Notre Dame junior punter Jay Bramblett is on the watch list for the Ray Guy Award, given to the top punter in the country. Bramblett booted 43 punts for an average of 42.8 yards per kick last season. He had a long of 59 yards in the ACC Championship.

Notre Dame has never had a Ray Guy award winner.

Jarrett Patterson: Rimington Trophy (July 23), Outland Trophy (July 27)

Kelly has outwardly said senior Jarrett Patterson, Notre Dame's experienced returning offensive lineman, will make a move from center to another position on the line and cede the center spot to junior Zeke Correll.

If for some reason that does not happen, though, Patterson could end up winning the Rimington Trophy, given to the best center in the game. Patterson started 13 games as a sophomore and eight as a junior before he was lost for the season with an injury. When he's on the field, he's one of the most physically imposing centers in America.

If Patterson starts at guard instead of center, he's still got a chance to win an award. He was named to the Outland Trophy watch list. The Outland Trophy is given to the nation's best interior lineman — offense or defense.

Cain Madden: The Outland Trophy (July 27) 

Marshall graduate transfer Cain Madden joined Patterson on the Outland Trophy watch list. Notre Dame has had three all-time winners, but zero since defensive lineman Ross Browner took it home in 1976.

Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa: Bronko Nagurski Trophy (July 27), Wuerffel Trophy (July 29)

Senior defensive lineman Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa joined Hamilton on the Bronko Nagurski watch list. Tagovailoa-Amosa is making a switch from defensive tackle to end. He had 17 total tackles, including 5.5 for a loss, in 2020.

Tagovailoa-Amosa also appeared on the Wuerffel Trophy watch list. That is given to college football's most impactful leader in community service.

Michael Mayer: Biletnikoff Award (July 22), Mackey Award (July 23)

It says everything for a tight end to make the Biletnikoff Award watch list. The Biletnikoff Award is granted to the top pass catcher in college football. A tight end has never won the award since it was first given out in 1994.

Notre Dame has one winner in the award's history; Golden Tate in 2009. Mayer tied for the team lead in receptions (42) and finished second in receiving yards (450) as a true freshman in 2020.

It's no surprise Mayer is in the running for the Mackey Award, given to the top tight end in the nation. He might not have a good shot of winning the Biletnikoff, but he could be considered one of the favorites to win the Mackey.

Brian Kelly: The Dodd Trophy (July 13)

Kelly won the Dodd Trophy in 2018 after leading Notre Dame to a perfect 12-0 regular season before the Irish lost to Clemson in the College Football Playoff. He can become just the third coach to win the award twice since its inception in 1976. He’d join Kansas State’s Bill Snyder (1998 and 2012) and Penn State’s Joe Paterno (1981 and 2005).

Another undefeated regular season in 2021, which would be Notre Dame's second in a row and third in the last four seasons, could be Kelly's best coaching job in his 12 seasons in South Bend. The Irish are starting a new quarterback and four new starters on the offensive line and are expected by many to take a step back from last year's College Football Playoff status.

This story will be updated as more Notre Dame players land on watch lists.

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