Tate will finish his career as one of the best runners in Auburn history when the Tigers take on Northwestern in the Outback Bowl in Tampa on New Year's Day. Tate said for him the day will be bittersweet.
"It is mixed feelings," Tate said. "It's kind of sad that I'm leaving, but at the same time I'm kind of happy too because I'm opening the next door. I'm getting ready to move on to hopefully a NFL career or whatever happens after college. It's an up and down deal."
Ben Tate (right) poses with Gene Chizik on Saturday night.
Getting into the game despite being one of six SEC teams with a 7-5 record, Auburn has a chance to play on Jan. 1 and set the tone for next season's team. Tate said that he's happy to have the chance to show what kind of program Auburn is building under Coach Gene Chizik.
"I was very happy," Tate said. "It just shows that Auburn has a lot of respect, even more than I thought we had. A bunch of teams were 7-5 and they picked us to go to the Outback Bowl instead of the games before it. I was surprised and at the same time I was happy."
On the defensive side of the ball the the MVP honors were shared by senior Antonio Coleman and junior Craig Stevens. Fighting through injuries for much of the year, Coleman had 45 tackles, nine sacks, and 15.5 tackles for losses this season.
Playing almost every snap on defense as well as most special teams, Stevens finished second on the team with 89 tackles. He also added seven tackles for losses and one interception for a touchdown.
Coleman was also named a team captain along with fellow senior Chris Todd. Todd had a huge senior year coming back from an injury. He set a school record with 21 touchdown passes while throwing for 2,377 yards.
Auburn's special teams MVP was easy to choose. Junior kicker Wes Byrum had one of the best years in school history for a kicker. He made 14-15 field goals in 2009 with his only miss coming from 46 yards and was perfect on extra-point attempts.