Blog: Post Season "Software"

With the 2009 Duke Football season in the books, it is time to hand out the inaugural Ski Hat Awards.

With the 2009 Duke Football season in the books, it is time to hand out the inaugural Ski Hat Awards. These awards are mostly subjective in nature, hopefully highlighting the best of the season gone by. Since no actual trophies will be given out, these awards will be termed postseason software (as opposed to hardware).

Offensive MVP: WR Donovan Varner – If this were a career award, Thad Lewis would win hands down. However, this award is about the 2009 season, and the best player on the Blue Devil roster was the diminutive sophomore from Miami . Varner finished the year leading the conference in receptions, and finishing second in yardage and touchdowns. For his efforts, Varner was named first team all-ACC. Bad news for the rest of the ACC: Varner will be around for two more seasons. I for one will enjoy watching him try and repeat this fall's performance in 2010.

Defensive MVP: MLB Vincent Rey – Unlike Lewis on offense, Rey gets both the career award and the season award. For the 3rd straight year, he finished in the conference's top-5 in tackles. He also leaves Duke as the all-time leader in fumble recoveries and fumble returns for TDs. The Devils will be left with a gaping hole in the middle with Rey graduating.

Special Teams MVP: K Will Snyderwine – Who would have thought at the beginning of the year that Duke's place kicking would become a strength of the team by season's end? I sure did not. Snyderwine won the job almost by default with the early season struggles of former starter Nick Maggio. Once in the lineup, Snyderwine was kicking his way to second-team all-conference honors. The walk-on converted on 85% of his FG attempts (17-20) and was perfect on PATs.

Non-kicker Special Teams MVP: WR Tony Foster – One aspect of the special teams Duke did well was punt coverage. A big reason for this success was the play of Foster in the "gunner" role. It seemed every game, he would make at least one play where the returner would catch the ball and Foster would immediately drop him. Hopefully, Foster will graduate from punt gunner to challenging for PT in the wide receiver rotation. He will, however, continue to have a spot on the punt coverage teams.

Best unit: The wide receivers – After losing Eron Riley from the 2008 team, many were wondering who would step up and replace his production. Turns out, the burden was shared by four guys. Starters Varner, Austin Kelly, and Connor Vernon all finished the season with at least 54 receptions. 4th receiver Johnny Williams also snared 31 despite missing time with injuries. And to the delight of Blue Devil fans everywhere, all four players will be back next season. And even better, only Kelly will be a senior in 2010. Needless to say, this receiving corps will be fun to watch in the near future and could be among the ACC's best in 2010.

Rookie of the year: WR Connor Vernon – This pick might have been the easiest of all the selections. As a true freshman, Vernon hauled in 55 catches for 746 yards. All of this while missing the Kansas game and parts of a few others due to injury. Varner might have deserved the recognition this year, but Vernon is the guy to watch going forward. He will be a tough match-up for DBs in the ACC for the next three seasons.

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