2006 HoosierNation.com Football Awards

The Indiana football team has already officially handed out their season-end awards, but today HoosierNation.com takes its turn. We take a look at some of the key playmakers, biggest surprises, and most promising newcomers on the 2006 Hoosier squad.

The Indiana football team has already officially handed out their season-end awards, but today HoosierNation.com takes its turn. We take a look at some of the key playmakers, biggest surprises, and most promising newcomers on the 2006 Hoosier squad.

Offfensive MVP - Kellen Lewis. Lewis won the team's Anthony Thompson Most Valuable Player Award and there's really no arguing the decision. Without the added dimension Lewis brought to the Hoosiers offense there's little chance the Hoosiers would have achieved the 5-7 record they recorded this year. The Florida native showed maturity beyond his years this season and will be the catalyst of the IU offense for years to come.

Honorable Mention - James Hardy and Justin Frye

Defensive MVP - Greg Brown. We know this is a controversial pick somewhat, but this big sophomore was largely overlooked this season by many and deserves recognition. He was an absolute rock in the middle of the Hoosier defensive line. Brown didn't put up gaudy stats, but he brought all-out effort on every down and anchored the entire defensive line. He's an excellent run-stopper and is steadily improving at finding the backfield. Without Brown the Hoosiers rush defense would have been downright abysmal.

Honorable Mention - Will Meyers, Tracy Porter, Kenny Kendal

Special Teams MVP - Marcus Thigpen. There's no debate in this award. Thigpen turned around games against Ball State and Illinois single-handedly with his electric returns for touchdowns. Had the sophomore running back not hurt his ankle mid-season he could have completely re-written the single-season kick return records at IU.

Honorable Mention - Tyson Beattie

Offensive Playmaker Award - James Hardy. With 20 touchdowns in 20 career games, Hardy has established himself as one of the country's brightest young receivers. A two-game suspension cost him a lot this season, but he rebounded in a big way in the last part of the season. When IU needs a big play there's little doubt who they are going to turn to…No. 82.

Honorable Mention - Kellen Lewis

Defensive Playmaker Award - Will Meyers. The one-handed interception to seal the victory over Iowa is nearly enough in its own right to secure Meyers this award. The fact that he led the team in interceptions with five, in tackles with 78, and also added four tackles for a loss, four pass break-ups, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery make it a no-brainer.

Honorable Mention - Tracy Porter, Josh Bailey, Adam McClurg

True Freshman of the Year - Will Patterson. With all the great performances IU got from their freshman class it's a tough call, but Patterson wins in a squeaker. The 6-foot-1, 222 pound linebacker was the leading true freshman tackler with 41 stops, including 4.5 tackles for a loss of 19 yards. He showed up on campus looking like a Big Ten linebacker, quickly won a starting job, and won't be leaving the line-up anytime soon.

Honorable Mention - Rodger Saffold, Pete Saxon, Ray Fisher

Redshirt Freshman of the Year - Kellen Lewis. Lewis wins this award in a landslide and that's really an accomplishment when you look at those he was competing against for this award. The dual-threat QB was barely recruited to play quarterback, but he's been a godsend for the Hoosiers. He's the type of player you cater an entire offense around. More importantly, he has the leadership skills and maturity of an upperclassman.

Honorable Mention - Nick Polk, Demetrius McCray, Austin Thomas, Josh Bailey, Andrew Means

Most Improved Player Award - Adam McClurg. Many didn't know who the younger McClurg (older brother Eric is a safety) was entering this season, but now he's known as the team's solidly reliable middle linebacker. McClurg fought his way up the depth chart this off-season and then produced on the field for the Hoosiers this season. He was fourth in tackles with 58 stops and also recorded 5.5 tackles for a loss. He was very sound against the run and was a hard-nosed leader. Pretty good for a former walk-on.

Honorable Mention - Greg Brown, Josh Bailey, Kellen Lewis, Nick Polk

Mr. Reliable Award - Troy Grosfield. This former kicker has been such an essential part of the IU program over the years we had to make an award just for him. How many times was the barely 6-foot, 195 pound Grosfield the last man between the endzone and the ballcarrier and made the stop? Too many to count. He once again finished among the team's leading tacklers (second with 63) due to sound fundamental tackling in the open field. He's more valuable than you think to the IU defense.

Honorable Mention - Jahkeen Gilmore, Jake Powers, Tyson Beattie

Biggest Surprise - Austin Starr. Going into this season field goal kicking was a MAJOR concern for the Hoosiers. After attempting only a handful of field goals last year due to a lack of confidence in their kicker, many thought the Hoosiers wouldn't try a field goal outside the 20-yard line this year. Instead Starr stepped up his play to make good on 12-15 field goals, including an impressive 8-9 from kicks on 30+ yards. He won the Illinois game with a cold-blooded kick and generally showed himself as a reliable option.

Honorable Mention - Kellen Lewis, Andrew Means, Adam McClurg, Josh Bailey, Joe Kleinsmith

Player Leadership Award - Justin Frye. Not only did the fifth-year senior endure three different coaches, his father's death, his coach's brain surgeries, and more position switches than he could count, but he also shepherded a young offensive line through the Big Ten. It would have been enough for Frye just to endure the season, but instead he led his entire team with his tireless teaching and work off the field and positive mental attitude throughout. His time in Bloomington will be one of the big reasons IU gets their football program turned around in the future.

Honorable Mention - Lance Bennett, Graeme McFarland, Will Meyers, Chris Mangiero

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