The College Football Week 7 All-Heart Team

Brian Leigh@@BLeighDATFeatured ColumnistOctober 19, 2015

The College Football Week 7 All-Heart Team

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    Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

    The Week 7 All-Heart Team features college football players who made tremendous effort plays and showed tremendous hustle in big moments.

    There was one insanely obvious inclusion—the picture above should give it away—but all around the country, players wore their hearts on their sleeves.

    Priority was given to power-conference players in high-profile games, since part of making this list includes playing well on the biggest stage. However, if the moment of performance was special enough, players from any-size FBS school were eligible to make the team.

    Sound off below and let us know whom we missed!

RB Dalvin Cook, Florida State

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    Mark Wallheiser/Associated Press

    Dalvin Cook carried his team to victory, and he did so on a bum hamstring.

    The sophomore rushed 22 times for 163 yards and two touchdowns and also caught four passes for 60 yards. Almost all of that production came in the second half when Florida State, which trailed 7-6 at halftime, scored 35 points to pull away from Louisville.

    Cook left the game twice in the first half to tend to his hamstring, but he was still the best player on the field. He said he feels like he will "be healthy in a few weeks," per Brendan Sonnone of the Orlando Sentinel, but he still had the will to keep his team undefeated.

    That's a good way to make the All-Heart Team.

QB Eric Dungey, Syracuse

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    Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey, a true freshman whom injuries forced into the lineup, did everything he could to lead the Orange to a road win at Virginia.

    He came up just short in triple overtime, but the heart he showed in getting there, leading Cuse to 38 points, was impressive.

    His signature play came at the end of the first half, when he dashed up the middle toward the end zone. All-ACC safety Quin Blanding had him targeted, but Dungey hurdled the 6'2" sophomore, took a big, defenseless shot once he landed and bounced past the goal line for six.

    "When I was recruiting him, I told him, 'No more jumping over people,'" head coach Scott Shafer said before halftime. "But he said, 'Screw it, I'm doing it.'"

    Dungey finished with 150 passing yards and 85 rushing yards in the loss.

Interim HC Shawn Elliott, South Carolina

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    Richard Shiro/Associated Press

    The Vinesplural—of South Carolina interim head coach Shawn Elliott speak for themselves.

    In his first game leading the Gamecocks after Steve Spurrier retired Monday, Elliott was 1,000 percent heart.

    His emotions carried over to his players, who scrapped and clawed and fought for a 19-10 win over Vanderbilt.

    Elliott told reporters after the game the words he shared with his team:

    I told our guys, 'You had your back against, you had your backs against the wall all week,’ they never batted an eye, they kept fighting, they kept playing and they did everything we asked of them. I said it's just like this great state. You have the tragedies here, the floods and you see people rebuild, helping one another, fighting to get back what they had and that’s exactly what we did today.

    Overdramatic? Maybe. But you can tell Elliott's words come from the heart.

    You can tell his players got the message, too.

LBs Kyler Fackrell and Nick Vigil, Utah State

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    Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

    We've narrowed this down to Utah State's best two players, but we really could have named its entire defense.

    The Aggies forced seven turnovers in the first half against No. 21 Boise Stateeight in the gameand coasted to a 52-26 win.

    Linebackers Kyler Fackrell and Nick Vigil, a pair of sneaky NFL prospects, led the charge for the Aggies defense. Together they finished with 25 tackles, five tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, two sacks and four QB hurries.

    "The juice and the energy felt from the fans affected our players," Utah State head coach Matt Wells told reporters. "It was an unbelievable night, I don’t know if I have ever seen anything like that first half."

    This was truly an inspired performance.

CB KeiVarae Russell, Notre Dame

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    Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    Notre Dame cornerback KeiVarae Russell made the play that saved the game against USC, intercepting Cody Kessler on a deep ball in the fourth quarter.

    The Irish led 38-31 when Kessler targeted Biletnikoff Award candidate JuJu Smith-Schuster, but Russell soared from behind to make the pick.

    Smith-Schuster roasted the Notre Dame secondary for a touchdown earlier in the game, but Russell responded to adversity and made a big play when his team most needed it. He then launched into an epic postgame monologue, as transcribed by Inside the Irish's Keith Arnold:

    The times they threw at me in the fourth quarter, they didn't have a completed pass, because I started really challenging the receiver. I started playing the ball more. I mentally took on myself. 'Be the athlete you are. Be the player everybody knows you can be, and the player you know you can be. Start making more plays.'

    I had to turn it on. It's the fourth quarter, and the game is close. We keep talking about making the big play on defense, but we haven't made it. I always make plays against S.C. I said, 'I'm going to make a play. I always make plays against USC.' I told the staff, 'I'm going to make a play against USC.' That's what I do. I find a way.

    He also found a way onto the All-Heart Team.

DB Jalen Watts-Jackson, Michigan State

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    Jalen Watts-Jackson made the undisputed play of the weekend, scooping a fumbled punt on the final play against Michigan, then weaving up the sideline and barreling into the end zone as time expired.

    The redshirt freshman from Dearborn, Michigan, had barely made an impact all season, but he refused to be denied at the buzzer.

    More than that, he suffered a serious injury on the final play and was carted off the field as teammates celebrated. Per head coach Mark Dantonio, Watts-Jackson dislocated his hip and suffered a fracture at the end of the run, which has since led to season-ending surgery.

    "He told me it happened on the tackle, as he was being tackled, is when it happened," Dantonio said, per Matt Charboneau of the Detroit News. "And on the film you can see him in pain, so that's when it happened."

    Say hi to college football's newest legend.

RB De'Andre Mann, Kansas

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    Kansas played its first competitive Big 12 game of the season against Texas Tech, nearly gutting out the upset before losing 30-20.

    No play better encapsulated its effort than De'Andre Mann's recovered fumble in the end zone. The Red Raiders stripped quarterback Ryan Willis and had a chance to recover for a touchdown, but after two defenders knocked the ball away from each other, Mann scooped it up and rushed it out to the 11-yard line.

    That play was a microcosm for Saturday's entire game. The headline will read "Texas Tech struggles," but at the same time, Kansas showed heart.

    "From what I've seen, Kansas has actually played well," Travis Haney of tweeted. "Not just a miserable effort by Texas Tech."

    First-year head coach David Beaty should be proud of his players—Mann in particular. The senior finished with 107 yards on 15 carries.


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