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Three Notre Dame football players named 2023 FWAA All-Americans

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The names Joe Alt, Xavier Watts and Howard Cross III are littering All-America releases this month. That Notre Dame trio ended up on another list Monday.

The Football Writers Association of America named first- and second-team All-Americans this morning. Alt, the Irish’s junior left tackle, and Watts, a senior safety, were named to the FWAA’s First Team. Cross was a Second Team selection.

Alt and Watts are now 2-for-2 on being named first-team choices by outlets that decide consensus and unanimous All-American status. The Walter Camp Football Foundation also put that duo on its own First Team last week. All they need is one of the Associated Press, the Sporting News or the American Football Coaches Association to put them on the First Team for consensus status. If the trend continues and they are first-team choices by all three of those outlets, they will be unanimous All-Americans.

Notre Dame has had 35 unanimous All-Americans in the program’s illustrious history. That ranks third all-time behind Alabama (41) and Ohio State (37). Linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah was the Irish’s most recent unanimous All-America selection in 2020.

Quarterback Frank Carideo was the first ever unanimous All-American from Notre Dame back in 1929. The Irish have also boasted household names like Johnny Lujack, Leon Hart, Johnny Lattner, Ross Browner, Bob Golic, Tim Brown, Chris Zorich, Manti Te’o and many others as unanimous AAs.

The pair certainly has a good case for unanimous inclusion. Alt is widely considered the best offensive tackle in the country. He was a finalist for both the Lombardi Award and the Outland Trophy, two honors bestowed upon elite linemen in college football. He lost both to players on the defensive side of the ball. UCLA edge rusher Laiatu Latu won the Lombardi. Texas tackle T’Vondre Sweat won the Outland.

Watts, meanwhile, won the Nagurski Trophy as the most outstanding defensive player in college football. He led the FBS with seven regular season interceptions.

Cross isn’t a surefire first-team choice like Alt and Watts, but he was still a highly productive player for Notre Dame in 2023. He was one of very few tackles in the FBS with 60-plus tackles this season. He’s been one of the Irish’s best defensive players in each of the last two seasons, and Sunday he announced he’s running it back for a sixth season in South Bend even though he had likely made himself NFL Draft ready with the way he performed the last two years.

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