This is the first annual "Double-T Nation's Post Season Awards". The categories which the DTN community will be nominating and voting are as follows: Offensive Rookie of the Year; Defensive Rookie of the Year; Most Improved Offensive Player; Most Improved Defensive Player; Special Teams Player of the Year; Offensive Player of the Year; Defensive Player of the Year; and Most Valuable Player.
I'd also ask that you not vote for Leach. I appreciate your loyalty, but I was trying to do something for the players. There are 20 different posts where you can discuss how pissed you are, but you'd be doing me a solid if you could play along.
DTN Post Season Award Winners:
- Offensive Rookie of the Year: WR Alexander Torres
- Defensive Rookie of the Year: S Cody Davis
- Offensive Most Improved Player: WR Lyle Leong
- Defensive Most Improved Player: DE Brandon Sharpe
Now we're getting down to the most valuable players for each unit, which is where I hope we have a ton of good discussion about who's earned a most valuable player designation.
Since special teams can be a tough thing to measure, especially since I don't know of any website that tracks special teams tackles, this vote is going to keep to the returners and kickers.
It's really not fair not to start with one freshman over another, but I think it's imperative to discuss both KR Eric Stephens and P Ryan Erxleben in the same breath. We've mentioned before about how Erxleben took over for Jonathan LaCour, who was suspended the first four games, and a struggling Donnie Carona, to average 40.8 yards per punt, pinning 17 inside the 20 yard line, 4 over 50 yards and no blocked punts. Erxleben's 40.8 average was good for 7th in the Big 12.
Kickoff returner Eric Stephens was nothing short of electric on kickoff returns, averaging 25.72 yards per return, good for 3rd in the Big 12. Stephens didn't take over the job until after the Rice game (Stephens had a 54 yard return and another long return that was called back in a blowout win) and it was his job from that point forward.
Redshirt freshman punt returner Austin Zouzalik wasn't spectacular, and his 9.57 yards per punt return wasn't lighting the world on fire, but he was solid the entire year and I cannot recall a time that he fumbled a punt. Despite what seems like low numbers, Zouzalike still finished 5th in the Big 12 in punt returns.
Kicker Matthew Williams wasn't spectacular, but he wasn't bad either. Perhaps the best thing about Williams wasn't that he made 11 of 14 field goals, good for 78.6% and 4th in the Big 12, but rather that you didn't even think about him missing an extra point the entire year (although he did miss 1 in that blowout win over Rice). Peace of mind is a good thing when it comes to extra points, especially when you consider how difficult 2008 was until Williams kicked himself onto the team.