2001 HawkTalkOnline.com Post-Season Awards
Season MVP: Ladell Betts
After a disappointing, injury-filled first month of the season, Ladell had a solid Big 10 campaign, and excelled against Indiana and Iowa State. He once again hit the 1,000-yard mark, with 1,056 yards rushing, and was a solid runner, often breaking tackles or dragging defenders for extra yards. Replacing the 2nd-best rusher in Iowa history will be a tall task next year.
Runner-Up: Aaron Kampman
Kampman finally developed into the defensive star everyone waited for him to become this year. He posted an incredible 92 tackles from his post at defensive end, including 17 tackles for a loss. His 9 sacks led the team, and he was even tied for second in interceptions. He constantly disrupted the quarterback in the pocket, and still managed to be a very effective run defender.
Special Teams MVP: Nate Kaeding
"Kaedo" turned in yet another fine performance as a kicker this season, connecting on 8 of 11 field goal attempts. Making his stats even better is the fact that one miss came on a block, and another after he slipped on the wet Iowa State turf. He hit 48 of 49 extra points, which led to his spot as the Hawkeyes' leading scorer, with 72 points. Furthermore, he made life tough for opposing returners, causing touchbacks on a routine basis.
Runner-Up: Kahill Hill
Kahlil was his usual electrifying self on special teams this year, averaging 26 yards per kick return and almost 12 per punt return. Although he never found the end zone, his 76-yard return to start the Penn State game set the tone for the first half, as Iowa jumped out to a 24-6 halftime lead. He has been nominated for Special Teams Player of the Year in the NCAA.
Newcomer of the Year: Dallas Clark
Who would have ever thought that this walk-on who played linebacker last season could contribute like this? Easily overtaking Erik Jensen and Tony Jackson as starting tight end, Dallas made moves that most people never expect from a tight end, running around and through defenders on a regular basis. He was the team's second-leading receiver, with 509 yards and 4 touchdowns. Barring catastrophic injury, he will most likely be mentioned in the same breath as Scott Slutzker and Marv Cook before his Iowa career is over.
Runner-Up: CJ Jones
After a relatively slow start, CJ Jones turned into an explosive threat for the Hawkeyes, using his speed and athleticism to turn normal pass plays into huge gains. The Hawkeye faithful will be delighted as he likely takes over the reins of being the primary receiver next year.
Best Play of the Year: CJ Jones's Reverse
After a disheartening finish to the first half, the Hawkeyes needed a big play to get the game's momentum back in their favor, and CJ delivered in a simply huge way, catching the Michigan punt coverage by surprise and electrifying the crowd.
Runner-Up: Dallas Clark Rumbles Against Minnesota
In quite possibly the most unbelievable play of the year, six Gopher defenders were needed to bring Dallas Clark down. He made the catch around 10 yards downfield, juked one, then another defender. Then, three more defenders came and stopped him in his tracks, and the play seemed over... until he easily broke through the attempt to strip the ball, ran over another player, and simply carried the last defender on his back for roughly 20 more yards until another Gopher finally undercut him. The play epitomized Iowa's physical domination of Minnesota that day.
Most Likely to Break-out Next Season: CJ Jones
CJ seems like a perfect candidate for breakout player of the year. With seniors accounting for 111 catches this year, including 53 by Kahlil Hill, Jones will be the most experienced receiver left on the roster. Also, he will likely be the first option on special teams, where he excelled in a limited role.
Runner-Up: Aaron Greving/Fred Russell Tandem
As Ladell Betts sat on the bench last year, either due to injury or 51-point leads for the Hawkeyes, Greving and Russell excelled at the tailback roles. Greving rolled up 218 yards and an astonishing 6 touchdowns in just 35 carries. Russell showed terrific moves and elusiveness reminiscent of Barry Sanders in his limited time at tailback, and has a bright future on the field.
Best Game of the Year: Minnesota
Sure, Iowa only won by a count of 42-24, but anybody who saw this game knew that Iowa completely dominated the Gophers. Dallas Clark flattened whoever wanted to tackle him. The Minnesota running backs ran for their lives until being brought down for a loss. The Iowa quarterbacks completed all but one pass, where Kyle McCann was forced to throw the ball away. Ladell Betts ran at will. It was painfully obvious to Iowa's neighbors to the north that the Hawkeyes were the better team.
Yes, Michigan won. But both teams gave everything they could in this game. It was one of the most exciting in recent memory, as the teams traded turns making big plays, culminating in Marquise Walker's one-handed grab to give Michigan the lead. Iowa had not played a team of Michigan's caliber so well in years. In the postgame, Lloyd Carr was impressed with the Hawkeyes. "My hat is off to the Iowa football team," he said. "They played really hard. That defense of Iowa's - that the best defense we have played against."
Hardest Hit of the Year: Shane Hall's Knockout Blow
Shane Hall most likely erased 3 and a half seasons' worth of frustrations with one crushing blow on Michigan's Ronald Seymour, knocking him out briefly. When Seymour came to after a few seconds, he probably wasn't sure where he was. The hit was a prime example of the effort the Hawkeyes put into that game.
Runner-Up: Bob Sanders Takes Off McCoo's Head
Penn State running back Eric McCoo was the unfortunate recipient of one of Bob's hits, and his helmet bore the unfortunate brunt of the attack. While trying to navigate through a pile during a short gain, McCoo was stuck by Sanders, and his helmet flew into the air, where Jerry Montgomery would "recover" it 5 yards away. The play sent Hawkeye fans into a frenzy and made McCoo think twice about carrying the ball around Sanders again.
* The voting members consisted of Josh Clark, 0044, Adam Jacobi, Dan Cagley, and special guest Marc Morehouse.