Blue and Gold Illustrated

January 2015

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

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BY DOUGLAS FARMER J oe Schmidt has dreamt of many things. Playing for the Irish ranks high on that list — right next to owning a yacht in the Bahamas in his 60s — but he never dared dream of earning Notre Dame's MVP honors. Even though the senior linebacker ap- peared in only eight games this season, Irish head coach Brian Kelly named Schmidt just that at the annual football awards banquet Dec. 12, partly due to the four games Schmidt missed. "As coaches, when we sat down and looked at the most valuable football player for 2014, we looked at not just what he did on the field, but what our team did not have when he was not on the field," Kelly explained. "What we lacked was somebody that brought that leadership, that energy, that pas- sion that is needed in this game of football on a day-to-day basis." With Schmidt, Notre Dame started the season 7-1. After he dislocated and fractured his ankle against Navy Nov. 1, the Irish lost their final four games. That four-game losing streak may have underlined Schmidt's im- portance, but he would much rather it had rendered him a footnote. "I almost don't like to hear that," he said. "I really do want us to win every game. … All I've ever wanted to do was be what Notre Dame needed me to be. That's really been my goal all season, to be the player and the leader and the teammate that my teammates needed. "I'm still trying to do that today. I'm going to keep doing that for as long as I'm here." Schmidt's route to "here" is well- known. A former walk-on, he earned a scholarship heading into his junior season and was thrown into a starter's role late in the campaign due to inju- ries much akin to the way freshmen Nyles Morgan and Greer Martini were this year when he went down. Kelly acknowledged that movie-worthy path to MVP-status before telling a tale not as well-known about Schmidt. "I remember Joe making his decision [to attend Notre Dame]," Kelly said. "He called me on the phone to say he was coming to Notre Dame. … He was being recruited by one of those Pac-12 schools, and one of their angles was, 'Hey, if you come to our school, we have such pretty girls, and you'll be chasing those beautiful girls for four years.' Walk-On To MVP Notre Dame selected senior linebacker Joe Schmidt as its most valuable player this season

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