Blue and Gold Illustrated

January 2021

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

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10 JANUARY 2021 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED UNDER THE DOME AD JACK SWARBRICK WINS JOHN TONER AWARD On Dec. 17, 13th-year Notre Dame di- rector of athletics Jack Swarbrick was named the recipient of the National Foot- ball Foundation's John L. Toner Award. The honor is presented annually to an athletics director who has demon- strated superior administrative abili- ties and particularly shown outstanding dedication to college football. Swarbrick's leadership amidst the COVID-19 pandemic has been credited by multiple outlets for helping make a 2020 college football season possible. "I am humbled to be added to such a distinguished list of prior recipients, in- cluding many athletic directors who I have counted among my mentors and close friends over the years," Swarbrick said of the award that has been presented annu- ally since 1997. "I especially appreciate that this year's award recognizes the hard work that our staff at Notre Dame put in to ensure that our student-athletes had the opportunity to pursue their athletic dreams during a year in which so many thought that would not be possible." — Lou Somogyi For the first time since 1993, five Notre Dame players were represented on the Associated Press' three 2020 All-America units: • Senior rover Jeremiah Owusu-Kora- moah and senior left guard Aaron Banks were named to the AP first team. Owusu-Koramoah became the third Notre Dame player in the last nine years to earn the Butkus Award, which honors the nation's top linebacker. He joined Manti Te'o (2012) and Jaylon Smith (2015) in that group. He also was feted as the ACC Defensive Player of the Year. Meanwhile, Banks also was named to the first team by Pro Football Focus be- cause he was the lone Power Five con- ference left guard (65 teams total) who earned a pass- and run-blocking grade above 80.0. • Fifth-year senior left tackle Liam Eichenberg made the AP's second unit. He has a chance to become the fourth straight Notre Dame left tackle selected in the first round of the NFL Draft, joining Zack Martin (2014), Ronnie Stanley (2016) and Mike McGlinchey (2018). Eichenberg has started every game the past three seasons, is one of three finalists for the Outland Tro- phy (winner to be announced Jan. 7), was the recipient of the ACC's Jacobs Blocking Trophy, and joined Owusu on the 2020 Sporting News All-America first team. • Named to the third unit were fifth- year senior right guard Tommy Kraemer and sophomore safety Kyle Hamilton. Kraemer has started 38 games dat- ing back to 2017, despite missing the final six in 2019 because of a knee in- jury. With Kraemer on the team as well, it marked the first time since football went to two platoons in 1964 that three different Notre Dame offensive linemen were named to the top three AP All- American teams in the same year. A Freshman All-American last season, the rangy Hamilton is Notre Dame's first AP All-America safety since Tom Zbikowski made the third team in 2006. The 11-1 team in 1993 was the last to have five AP All-Americans: offensive tackle Aaron Taylor and cor- nerback Jeff Burris on the first team, center Tim Ruddy and defensive lineman Bryant Young on the second unit, and cornerback Bobby Taylor on the third group. — Lou Somogyi Five Notre Dame Players Earn Associated Press All-America Notice From a knee injury that wiped out the final six games of his senior season in 2019, to emergency appendectomy surgery that forced starting Irish right guard Tommy Kraemer to sit out the game at North Carolina Nov. 27, this valuable fifth-year senior enjoyed a career at Notre Dame that always trended in the right direction, but didn't necessarily always stay on script. After coming from Cincinnati Elder High School and redshirting as a freshman at Notre Dame in 2016, Kraemer made his Irish debut in 2017 as a sophomore with 13 co-starts at right tackle and became an important cog on a Notre Dame offensive line that claimed the Joe Moore Award that season as the best in the country — an honor the Irish have a chance at reclaiming this year. Through the 38 starts and 44 appearances that Kraemer made at Notre Dame, he became one of the most versatile and productive players within this talented position group, and ultimately put himself in position to be selected in the 2021 NFL Draft this spring. Blue & Gold Illustrated caught up with Kraemer to discuss a long Irish career and what his time at Notre Dame has meant. BGI: You were playing great football when the appendectomy surgery set you back. What were those couple weeks of recovery like? Kraemer: "It was really weird. I felt like I got to a point in the season where I was really rolling, and I was feeling really good. Then all of the sudden it just kind of hit, and then after [the surgery], it was really challenging to just get some core strength back because they had to go in through my stomach." BGI: Pandemic protocols this year made your fifth season as an Irish player unlike any of the previous four. Did you miss anything in particular playing under the 2020 COVID cloud? Kraemer: "Probably the camaraderie and brotherhood. It's not a traditional offseason where you could hang out all the time, or have barbecues, or go over to coach's house. It just didn't work like that. "You built brotherhood through work. It was a different offseason … so the brotherhood really had to be built on the field and in the facility." BGI: The Irish line suffered a hit in game eight against Boston College when it lost talented starting center Jarrett Patterson for the remainder of the season. What did you veterans have to do to help the inexperienced backups improve while at the same time you're playing ranked teams al- most every week? Kraemer: "I think the main thing is just over-communicate, just pointing out things, helping them in any way we can. And then off the field, watch- ing extra film with them. The guards and tackles, everyone is kind of getting together and honing down the communication aspect, making sure we are all going to the right place and seeing everything through one set of eyes." BGI: You arrived at Notre Dame in 2016. What did your time as a student- athlete at the university mean to you? Kraemer: "My time has been just phenomenal. These past five years, I have built some of the best friendships and met some of the best people that I ever could have imagined, so it has been very special." BGI: And finally, what else stands out about your Notre Dame experience as you prepare to move on? Kraemer: "To represent this great university and the great people that I've met throughout my time here is special, and something you can't take lightly. There's a lot of people who made me who I am, that watch me on Saturdays, so I'm always really excited go out there for them. — Todd D. Burlage Five Questions With … FIFTH-YEAR SENIOR RIGHT GUARD TOMMY KRAEMER Kraemer earned first-team All-ACC and third-team AP All-America honors in 2020 despite missing one game after an emergency appendectomy. PHOTO BY MIKE MILLER The Fighting Irish landed five players on the three AP All-America units — including senior left guard Aaron Banks on the first team — for the first time in 27 years. PHOTO COURTESY ND ATHLETICS

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