Football Regular Season Awards

With just three days remaining until Maryland faces Oregon State in the Emerald Bowl, let's take a look back at some of the year's superlatives. The players recognized in TurtleSportsReport's inaugural year-end awards will receive absolutely nothing, unless they want to print out a picture of the trophy to the left.

Most Valuable Player: Erin Henderson

Facing numerous injuries throughout the year, Erin Henderson was seldom at full strength. It sure didn't seem that way, though. Henderson, a first team All-ACC selection, led Maryland's defense with 122 tackles (11 for a loss) and four fumble recoveries.

Most Improved Player: Dre Moore

One of coach Ralph Friedgen's favorite stories to tell is that of Moore's progression here at Maryland. Early in his career, Moore was raw, somewhat undisciplined and lacked motivation. He had the physical talent but it took him a while to mold into a productive defensive tackle.

Moore, the strongest player on the team, now has another honor: first team All-ACC. Everything finally culminated in a sensational senior season for Moore, who led the team with 6 sacks. He also had 8.5 tackles for a loss and an interception of Matt Ryan. He will likely be selected in the 2008 NFL Draft.

Biggest Surprise: Obi Egekeze

It's pretty safe to say that nobody expected what Egekeze did this year. He had been hampered by injuries and had a disappointing 2006, when he lost the kicking job to Dan Ennis. He was still inconsistent during last spring's practice, but improved during fall camp, beating out Travis Baltz for the place kicking nod.

Egekeze, who won't win style points with his kicks, did all that matters: put the ball through the uprights. He made 17-of-22 field goals, with three of those misses coming in one game. He nailed three 40-plus yard field goals and was 34-of-34 on extra points.

Breakout player: Dave Philistin

After recording 26 tackles in a reserve roll in 2006, Philistin exploded with 121 tackles in 2007. Philistin solidified his spot at the SAM linebacker position and as the best Maryland football player from New Hampshire (we think).

He appears to be next in the line of standout linebackers under Friedgen, a couple of years ahead of…

Freshman of the Year: Adrian Moten

When the injury bug hit the linebacker core this year, Moten was forced to learn all three positions on the fly. That's not easy for any player, let alone a redshirt freshman. But Moten shocked everybody, including Friedgen, with his versatility and nose for the football. When the unit started to heal, Moten tried his hand at pass rushing. Well, he's good at that too—he finished third on the team with 3.5 sacks.

Coach of the Year: Ray Rychleski

Rychleski's departure at the end of this year is a huge loss for Maryland. An original member of Friedgen's staff here, Rychleski guided an exceptional special teams unit year after year. This season, he took freshman Travis Baltz and molded him into an above-average punter--already. Egekeze's success was documented above. Maryland led the nation in kickoff return defense and hasn't had a punt blocked in seven years.

Runner-up goes to offensive line coach Tom Brattan, who managed to patch together a servicable offensive line despite an inconceivable amount of injuries.

First-Time Starter of the Year: Chris Turner

We all know what Turner has done for this team. He opened the season third on the depth chart, quickly became the back-up after Josh Portis was ruled ineligible, and was just as quickly under center, on the road, needing to lead a comeback against a top-10 team. And he did. Turner has started ever since, and done exceptionally well considering the circumstances. His best game was against Boston College, when he outplayed the ACC's best quarterback—Matt Ryan—and led Maryland to another win over a team ranked in the top 10.

Best Individual Performance: Dave Philistin vs. Georgia Tech

He didn't even know about it until a reporter read him the stats after the game: 22 tackles. With Henderson out, Philistin picked up the slack and recorded the most tackles by a Maryland player since Eric Barton had 22 against North Carolina in 1998.

Mr. Steady(s): Lance Ball and Keon Lattimore

Or Leon Baltimore. Maryland was one of just four teams in college football to have two rushers over 750 yards—Lattimore had 789 yards and Ball had 763 yards. The senior backfield duo combined for over a hundred rushing yards in nine of Maryland's 12 games. They were also the second duo in school history to have more than 10 touchdowns each.

Unsung Hero(s) Award: Brendan McDermond and Dewey Schmitt

McDermond, the snapper for field goals, and Schmitt, the long snapper for punts, had a flawless season. McDermond was awarded a scholarship at the beginning of the year and led a unit that didn't allow a blocked kick. Schmitt, whose brother Kyle is a graduate assistant, hasn't had an errant snap in his three full seasons at long snapper.

Warrior Award: Scott Burley

Burley always had a nagging injury, and towards the end of the year, he could have easily sat on the sidelines with an ankle injury. Burley could barely practice during the week, but played in the game anyway and added some stability to the ravaged offensive line as Maryland made its bowl push.

Comeback Player of the Year: Jermaine Lemons

Lemons could barely move at winter workouts last year. He severely injured his knee in summer workouts last year and was advised by Friedgen not to come back. Lemons, who had quit the team briefly as a redshirt freshman, defied the odds and worked his way back this fall. His story nearly brought Friedgen to tears earlier in the year.

Play of the Year: LaQuan Williams catch against Rutgers

Observe: YouTube link

Next Big Thing: Da'Rel Scott

A nagging ankle injury kept him in a limited role for much of the year, but Scott showed glimpses of his explosive nature. He averaged over 10 yards per rush and his lone catch was a 57-yard touchdown scamper against Boston College. He will likely be the featured running back next year.

The Incidental Touchdown Award: Turner to Jason Goode against Georgia Tech

The longest pass play of the season wasn't meant to be, at least according to Turner. Facing a third-and-4, Turner threw for Isaiah Williams. But Goode cut in front, caught the pass instead and ran 78 yards untouched for the touchdown.

Consummate Professional Award: Jordan Steffy

As soon as Josh Portis transferred to Maryland, Steffy took a back seat to the more exciting signal caller in the program. When he won the starting job this fall, fans objected. When he struggled early, fans grew impatient, despite those early games being his first starts. When he got knocked out with a concussion for a month—and in the process lost his starting spot—he never complained or showed any ill-will. Instead he continued to help Turner and mentored him through the rest of the season.

The thing Friedgen said every week:

Some variation of "We can be a very good team if we can be consistent. We'll have a great period in practice, and then the very next period will be bad. We need to be more focused."

Or, simply, as Friedgen would say: "It is what it is."

Mr. Popular Award: Christian Varner

Varner, the talkative and humorous safety, always has something on his mind and is always given a medium to say it. He is the most frequent request for interviews after practice and is a regular at media days.

Most Quotable: Isaiah Gardner

When a lively quote or unusual anecdote is needed, Gardner is the guy to go to. He has that "757" Tidewater swagger and will never shy away from a recorder. Both him and Varner want to be television sports commentators, and them two together in the booth would certainly draw me in.

The "Did That Game Happen?" Award: The Florida International game

Did that game actually happen? Apparently it did. Maryland won.

The "Scott McBrien supposedly helping to defeat former team" Award: Kevin Lempa

The first-year Maryland defensive backs coach spent the past four seasons at Boston College under Tom O'Brien, currently at N.C. State. So what happens against the BC secondary, of which most of its players Lempa coached? Chris Turner throws for 337 yards and Maryland puts up 42 points. What happens when Maryland faces N.C. State with O'Brien and his offensive coordinator holdover from BC? Maryland shuts out the Wolfpack.

Busiest Person Award: Head Team Physician Dr. Craig Bennett

It's no secret this has been a fluke year for injuries—the most Friedgen has encountered in his 39 years of coaching, he often pointed out. Who do all the injured players see? Dr. Bennett, an orthopedic surgeon by trade who serves as the head team physician for football. Friedgen has said numerous times he should buy stock in MRIs, a quip at the frequency at which the test has been administered this season.

The Patrick Stevens Honorary Stat of the Year:

Stevens, the Washington Times beat writer who is oftentimes more of a resource than the media guide with his sports encyclopedia for a brain, writes in his story on Rychleski's departure:

The Terps were 7-for-7 on tying or game-winning field goal attempts in the final minute and overtime in the last seven years, while opponents were 1-for-6 in those situations.

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