Brian Kelly and his Notre Dame players are hoping Monday night brings the biggest prize of them all. Until then, they will have to make do with some individual honors.
Kelly won the Liberty Mutual FBS coach of the year award and was named one of five finalists for the Bobby Bowden national collegiate coach of the year award. Manti Te'o won the Senior CLASS Award, and KeiVarae Russell was named an FWAA freshman All-American.
The Liberty Mutual award is the fifth different coach of the year honor Kelly has won this season, adding to the Walter Camp, Associated Press, Eddie Robinson and Home Depot coach of the year awards. Joining him as finalists for the Bowden award are Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, Bill Snyder and Kevin Sumlin.
Te'o won the Senior CLASS award as the most outstanding senior student-athlete in the FBS, excelling in the classroom, in the community, in his character and in competition. The CLASS acronym stands for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School.
Russell marks Notre Dame's second freshman All-American in as many seasons, joining Aaron Lynch, who transferred to South Florida last spring.