Awards Show Preview

Tonight's Notre Dame's post-season Awards Ceremony, the "Echoes," will honor more than 15 Irish lettermen for their efforts during the 2013 season.

Five committed players and three prospects are expected among the attendees tonight at Notre Dame's 93rd annual post-season banquet, a ceremony now in the format of a fast-paced awards show thanks to the 2010 innovation of then first-year head coach, Brian Kelly.

While most of tonight's team awards date back to the dawn of the Kelly era, others have been part of the program for more than four decades, with past winners including revered names such as Hanratty, Theismann, Casper, and Browner.

Below are my best guesses for tonight's 2013 Irish honorees. My own opinion is noted when it differs from the predicted winner.

Scout Team Player of the Year: Offense

Likely nominees include freshman Rashad Kinlaw (CB/QB), senior walk-on QB Will Cronin, and freshman WR Torii Hunter

Predicted Winner: Kinlaw, a freshman and future cornerback who served as a scout team quarterback to help prepare the Irish vs. the myriad dual-threat, mobile quarterbacks the defense faced in 2013.

Kelly Era Winners: Cam Roberson (2010), Everett Golson (2011), walk-on Nick Fitzpatrick (2012)

Scout Team Player of the Year: Defense

Previous winners include Kendall Moore (2010), Brandon Newman (2011) and Tyler Stockton (2012).

Prime 2013 Candidates: Senior OL/DL Bruce Heggie, junior defensive end Anthony Rabasa, and freshman LB Michael Deeb

Predicted Winner: Deeb

Offensive Newcomer of the Year

In 2010, the team's top newcomer was a redshirt-freshman tight end named Tyler Eifert. In 2011, senior Jonas Gray took home the well-deserved honor (and likely fell an injury and two games short of team MVP). Last season, the choice was obvious, with redshirt-freshman quarterback Everett Golson guiding the squad to a BCS Championship berth.

2013 Prime Candidates: TE Ben Koyack, RB Cam McDaniel, C Nick Martin

Predicted Winner and my choice: Martin

Defensive Newcomer of the Year

Former winners include freshman Prince Shembo (2010), junior Dan Fox (2011), and freshman Keivarae Russell (2012).

2013 Prime Candidates: Freshman Jaylon Smith, redshirt-freshman Jarron Jones

No-doubt winner: Smith

Irish Around the Bend Award

In its second season, the award recognizes the student-athlete's work in the community and on campus.

2012 Winner: Mike Golic, Jr.

2013 Prime Candidates: LB Joe Schmidt and TE Troy Niklas

Predicted 2013 Winner: They'll share the honor

Father Lange Iron Cross Award

Also in its second season, the award recognizes strength & conditioning excellence. The late Father Bernard Lange was the first unofficial strength coach at Notre Dame (for Ara Parseghian).

2012 Winner: Braxston Cave

2013 Prime Candidates: Ben Councell, Jarrett Grace, Carlo Calabrese, Chris Watt,

Predicted Winner: Watt

Special Teams Player of the Year

Each special teams contributor accrues points toward the honor, making any outside prediction difficult. But in this case, if 2012 winner Kyle Brindza doesn't repeat, they should discontinue the award.

Other Candidates: George Atkinson, T.J. Jones, Joe Schmidt. Brindza will win…

Nick Pietrosante Award (Inspirational Leadership)

First presented in 1988 to captain Andy Heck, the award recognizes the Notre Dame player who best exemplifies the courage, loyalty, teamwork, dedication and pride of the late Irish All-America fullback. Kelly-era winners include Robert Hughes (2010), Harrison Smith (2011), and John Goodman/Robby Toma (2012).

2013 Prime Candidates: Bennett Jackson, Zack Martin, Tommy Rees and Danny Spond

Predicted Winner: Spond, potentially shared with Rees.

Moose Krause Lineman of the Year

An award likely to shared for the second straight season. Previous Kelly-era winners include Ian Williams (2010), Darius Fleming (2011 -- he also won under Charlie Weis in 2009), and last season, Stephon Tuitt and Louis Nix.

2013 Candidates: Tuitt and Nix

Predicted Winners: Tuitt and Nix (or just Tuitt if Nix takes home MVP)

Guardian of the Year (top OL)

Kelly era winners include Zack Martin (2010), Zack Martin (2011), and Zack Martin (2012).

Prime Candidates: Martin and Chris Watt

Predicted Winner: Martin

Rockne Student-Athlete

I'll assume a repeat winner from 2012. Previous Kelly winners include K David Ruffer (2010), LB Manti Te'o (2011), and LB Danny Spond (2012).

Prime Candidates: Spond, Andrew Hendrix and likely plenty I'm missing

Predicted Winner: Spond

Next Man In

Previous winners include Tommy Rees (2010 and 2012) and Robby Toma (2011).

Prime 2013 Candidates: Senior DL Kona Schwenke, LB Dan Fox, freshman OL Steve Elmer, OL Conor Hanratty, DL Jarron Jones, and technically Rees again

Predicted Winner and my choice: Schwenke

Offensive MVP

Senior tight end Tyler Eifert was the inaugural winner in 2012.

2013 Prime Candidates: TJ Jones, Tommy Rees, Zack Martin

Predicted Winner: Jones

Defensive MVP

Senior safety Zeke Motta won the inaugural award last fall.

2013 Prime Candidates: Louis Nix, Stephon Tuitt, Dan Fox, Jaylon Smith

Predicted Winner: Nix

My Choice: Smith

Monogram Club MVP

An easy choice in previous seasons of the Kelly era, tonight's winner could be any of four, if not five choices. (Michael Floyd won in 2010 and 2011; Manti Te'o last season).

Prime Candidates: Louis Nix, TJ Jones, Zack Martin, and Tommy Rees

Predicted Winner: Rees

My Choice: Jones Top Stories