Scout Team Player of the Year-Defense: Presented to walk-on cornerback Joe Romano last year, look for newly-minted varsity defensive end Jay Hayes to take home the award for 2014.
Newcomer of the Year-Offense: Freshman RB Tarean Folston was the obvious choice for 2013. Pending the staff's definition of "newcomer" (senior Jonas Gray won this award in 2011), sophomore Will Fuller is the no-doubt choice.
Newcomer of the Year-Defense: Won in a landslide last December by then-freshman linebacker Jaylon Smith, the 2014 season boasts candidates aplenty. My choice is sophomore defensive end Isaac Rochell. 5th-year senior CB Cody Riggs would have won in a landslide had he not missed most of November. Actually, check that -- Riggs will win, my choice is Rochell for 12-game efforts.
“Irish Around The Bend” Award for Community Service/Involvement: 5th-year senior Tyler Stockton won last season. In a category difficult to predict, I'll take a shot with senior Joe Schmidt, who was instrumental in the The Notre Dame chapter of Uplifting Athletes.
Father Lange Iron Cross Award for Strength and Conditioning: 5th-year senior Carlo Calabrese earned the honor last season. It's a bad sign that I can't pinpoint a candidate for 2014 -- I'll go with senior tight end Ben Koyack on a (senior) hunch.
Special Teams Player of the Year: Triple-threat K/P/Kickoff Specialist Kyle Brindza won last season and had it locked up through the first half of 2014, but it would be disingenuous to present him with the honor after a trying November. Look for (senior) kick returner Amir Carlisle to win an award for his efforts. (Sophomore James Onwualu is my choice with C.J. Prosise second.)
Nick Pietrosante Award (Teammate who best exemplifies courage, loyalty, teamwork, pride, and dedication): Chris Watt and Dan Fox shared the program's top off-field honor last fall. I'll walk home if 5th-year senior Austin Collinsworth doesn't win in 2014.
Moose Krause Lineman of the Year-Defense: Junior Stephon Tuitt won last year, (sardonically referred to at the time by media in attendance as the "Please don't leave us!" award). Sheldon Day is the obvious choice for 2014. If anyone else wins (Jarron Jones, Isaac Rochell), it's because Day wins Team MVP and they didn't want to double-up.
Guardian Life Insurance Guardian of the Year-Offense: Zack Martin won for a record fourth straight time last season. There was no Zack Martin to be found among the 2014 blockers but my guess is Martin's replacement, Ronnie Stanley, earns the honor.
Rockne Student Athlete Award: Linebacker Jarrett Grace won the award in 2013 -- I'll assume he's a candidate again, though it would appear First Team Academic All-American selection Corey Robinson has this award on lock down.
Next Man In Award: Senior Kona Schwenke won for his efforts replacing Louis Nix in 2013. The obvious (only?) choice this fall is standout sophomore cornerback Cole Luke, who became one of the team's top 8-10 overall players after taking over for suspended junior Keivarae Russell.
Offensive Player of the Year: Tommy Rees won in 2013. This year's candidates would appear to be Will Fuller and Everett Golson. Assuming Fuller wins "Newcomer of the Year" this will likely go to Golson.
Defensive Player of the Year: Prince Shembo earned the honor last fall. Look for another linebacker to take home the trophy this fall, sophomore Jaylon Smith.
Most Valuable Player: T.J. Jones was honored with the program's high-profile award in 2013. My choice is Sheldon Day, despite his crippling two-game absence due to a knee sprain at season's end. Golson and Fuller will both be listed as candidates during the video segment, as could be Smith.