One of the best things about the 2017 football season for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish was its offensive line play, and in particular, Quenton Nelson. With Nelson and his partner to the left of him, Mike McGlinchey, the Irish running game saw a renaissance up front. Eventually the unit won the Joe Moore Award for the best offensive line in college football, but lacked individual awards.
Quenton Nelson was a unanimous All-American (Mike McGlinchey was a consensus All-American) but that was it for individual praise - for one of the greatest players in Notre Dame history. That ain’t hyperbole, that’s an honest opinion statement.
The Lombardi Award took a pass on Nelson, but they haven’t awarded an offensive linemen since Orlando Pace of the Ohio State Buckeyes won it in 1995 and 1996. The Outland Trophy took another hard pass and gave their award to Ed Oliver of the Houston Cougars (because that American Conference is known to have brutal offensive lines to go up against Oliver).
How was that even possible?
Quenton Nelson is one of the most talked about players in the upcoming NFL Draft, and has been hailed as quite possibly the best player in the entire draft. All season long, fans and media alike have salivated on clips of Nelson’s blocks. A handful of them were so incredible, that they are still being viewed daily with people freaking out at how awesome they are.
BLOCKS ON THE OFFENSIVE LINE! Not some crazy crackback on a sweep or on a kick return, just Quenton Nelson doing his job better than anyone at any position in college football were doing theirs.
Did we fail Quenton Nelson? Did we as fans and media members fail to properly hype Nelson as the best player in college football?
The answer is an emphatic YES.
So much so, that we should be ashamed that Nelson wasn’t even given a proper Heisman push. I’m dead serious. We were all so wrapped up in 33 Trucking, that we failed to really hype the proper horse/big rig. Am I insane? Am I really writing an article that suggests it’s OUR fault that an offensive guard didn’t get invired to New York for the Heisman ceremony?
Back in 1996, offensive lineman Orlando Pace was given the full support of the Ohio State community for a Heisman and finished 4th. He had the advantage of following the 1995 Heisman winner, Eddie George, as well as being on a team that was one trip to Ann Arbor short of winning the national championship.
How was this not the same type push that Notre Dame gave for Nelson (which was none)? How is Nelson not brewing tea with #56 teabags for his Heisman promo?
Of course this feels like some sort of childish rant - mainly because it is, but it’s also a way to vent about the loss of Nelson. How does he leave Notre Dame without at least the Outland Trophy?
We failed him, and he probably doesn’t even care. I take some solace in imagining that if Nelson returned for a fifth year, he would most certainly do all that I’m going apeshit about.