Illini Honored at Annual Banquet

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The Fighting Illini football team, families and friends gathered to honor 15 seniors and the season's award winners at the 106th annual football banquet sponsored for the 88th straight year by the Rotary Club, Saturday night at the Illini Union.

The following are the Illini award winners from the 2006 Illinois Football Banquet:

Most Valuable Player: J. Leman, linebacker
Leman made himself a national name this year as the junior linebacker led the Big Ten in total tackles (152) and finished the season ranked second in the NCAA. He twice earned Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honors on his way to a first-team all-conference selection. This week he was named an honorable mention All-American by Sports lllustrated. In addition to his individual efforts, Leman led a defense that boasted an improvement of over 160 yards allowed from last season. His 19 tackles for loss ranked second in the league and 10th in the nation.

Most Improved Player: David Lindquist, defensive tackle
Lindquist quickly earned the nickname of "human fumble recovery." He scooped up four for the season, which ranked first in the Big Ten. From a year ago, Lindquist went from contributor to a three-man rotation at defensive tackle with Chris Norwell and Josh Norris. He wrapped up the season with 33 tackles, five for loss and two sacks.

Rookie of the Year: Vontae Davis, cornerback & Juice Williams, quarterback
Vontae Davis and Juice Williams share the honor this year after both athletes yielded performances worthy of Freshman All-America honors. Davis, a first-team All-American The Sporting News, finished the season with 52 tackles, one interception, 2.5 tackles for loss and six passes broken up, while starting 11 of 12 games. Williams broke school records for freshman passing yards (1,489) and season and career rushing yards by an Illini quarterback (576) as a nine-game starter. Williams was one of only five true-freshmen quarterbacks in Division I-A this season.

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