Senior cornerback Darrin Walls opened the 2010 season with seven tackles and an interception in a 23-12 in over Purdue.
And he was a game captain, along with receiver Michael Floyd.
Coach Brian Kelly said Walls deserved the game-day honor and has been impressed by the cornerback's work ethic.
"He's been as purposeful as any player in the program since I got here," Kelly said. "He's been so focused, and everything that he has done has been with a purpose. There is no wasted motion with him. He comes to work every day. He comes to meetings prepared. He has been a student-athlete, but he has been a professional in a sense in everything that he has done.
"We wanted to reward him for that, because it is a great measuring stick for our players in terms of how they go to work every day."
Walls wasn't the only player that impressed Kelly.
Freshman receiver TJ Jones exceed even the coach's expectations against Purdue.
Jones, who is the second Irish receiver to catch a touchdown in a season opener joining Floyd, had three catches for 41 yards and a 5-yard touchdown reception.
"He had a game that you won't think a true freshman could have," Kelly said. "I was worried about him maybe being a little starry-eyed out there, but he made a nice catch over the middle on a double move, obviously, the touchdown catch. All in all, a very good day for a true freshman in a spread offense."