Blue and Gold Illustrated

January 2020

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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20 JANUARY 2020 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY ANDREW MENTOCK N otre Dame senior wide re- c e i v e r C h a s e C l a y p o o l claimed Most Valuable Player honors Dec. 13 at Echoes 2019, this year's version of the pro- gram's annual awards banquet. In order to accomplish this feat, Claypool had to beat out reigning MVP Ian Book, who took home the hardware in 2018 as a junior. Claypool, who said afterward that he was surprised to receive the award, always had the talent to put together a MVP-type season, but he needed four years of growth and ma- turity to get to this point. "I always knew that in my fresh- man, sophomore and junior year that I could be a lot better because I saw the growth over the years, even from high school," Claypool said after the Echoes. "I knew that I was going to improve, but I didn't know I was go- ing to receive something like this for my improvement." With the bowl game remaining, he has already had a historic season for a Fighting Irish wide receiver. Clay- pool is tied for sixth all time in Notre Dame annals for touchdown catches in a single season with 12. He would need to catch three touchdowns against Iowa State in the Camping World Bowl to tie the record of 15, which is shared by Will Fuller (2014), Golden Tate (2009), Rhema McKnight (2006) and Jeff Samardzija (2005). His season was highlighted by a four-touchdown performance against Navy, which tied former Notre Dame wide receiver Maurice Stovall for touchdown catches in a single game. Stovall set the record in 2005 against BYU. Three of Claypool's touchdowns against Navy came in the first half. This was the first time a Notre Dame player accomplished that feat since 1950. "His competitive spirit has got- ten him to where he is today," Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said on stage. "If he had a weakness, he worked on it, whatever it was. That's why he's such a great player. "I think Chris Finke said it the best, 'He works as hard as anyone that we have on this football team.' And the great players do. They work at it." Claypool has caught 59 passes for 891 yards so far this season. The lat- ter total is 409 yards more than the next highest Irish pass catcher. His production this season has lifted him to 10th all time for career touch- downs by a wide receiver with 18. Claypool also surpassed the 2,000- yard mark with 2,013 yards over his four-year career. "Being from Canada, I don't know if Chase took it as carrying a chip on his shoulder," Kelly said, "but he wanted to prove to everybody that you can come down here and domi- nate, and he did." OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: IAN BOOK While it could be construed as a step back for Book to go from team MVP to Offensive Player of the Year, no one in the audience seemed to feel that way, especially when it came to his ability to get the ball into the end zone. Book went from averaging 2.55 touchdowns per game — both pass- ing and throwing — in 2018 to 3.08 touchdowns per game in 2019. His 33 touchdown passes in 2019 are second only to Brady Quinn in 2006 when it comes to touchdown passes by a Notre Dame quarterback in a single season. Through 12 games this year, he's thrown six interceptions compared to nine last year in nine games. Another impressive feat for Book this season was his ability to run the ball. He was second on the team in terms of total rushing yards with 516. FOUR YEARS IN THE MAKING Senior wide receiver Chase Claypool tabbed as the Team MVP after a 12-touchdown season

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