Minnesota Gophers Honored at Awards Banquet

Numerous team awards were handed out Sunday afternoon at the Minnesota Football Senior Day Banquet, held at the Metropolitan. Thirteen seniors who will be playing their final game at the Insight Bowl on Dec. 31 were recognized, as well as the team's 2008 award winners. Minnesota head coach Tim Brewster congratulated his team and its seniors for all they have accomplished this year.

Minnesota head coach Tim Brewster also reminded his team that there was one more game to be played.

"We're going to the Insight Bowl to win," Brewster said. "I don't have any desire to just be part of the Insight Bowl. Our goal is to win the game and represent the University of Minnesota and the state of Minnesota well."

The award program began with 31 Gopher football players who were awarded their Minnesota letter jackets as first-time letter winners. Other award winners who were recognized included Minnesota's 27 Academic All-Big Ten honorees. Eric Decker and Jeff Tow-Arnett were recognized for their Academic All-District awards, as were Willie VanDeSteeg, Joel Monroe and Adam Weber for various player of the week honors.

The following is a list of the awards and their winners:

Outstanding First-Year Special Forces Player – Kick returner Troy Stoudermire

Outstanding First-Year Offensive Player – Running back DeLeon Eskridge

Outstanding First-Year Defensive Player – Linebacker Simoni Lawrence

Outstanding Scout Team Defensive Player – Defensive back Kim Royston

Outstanding Scout Team Offensive Player – Offensive lineman Matt Carufel

Neil Fredenburg Award (Courage, Love of the Game) – Offense: Jack Simmons; Defense: Kyle Theret

Paul Giel Award (Unselfish Play, Concern for the U of M) – Offense: Tony Mortensen: Defense: Eric Small

Butch Nash Award (Competitive on the field and in the classroom) – Offense: Jeff Tow-Arnett; Defense: Marcus Sherels

Tony Dungy Character and Community Service Award – Deon Hightower

Bobby Bell Outstanding Special Forces Award – Nate Triplett

Carl Eller Outstanding Defensive Player Award – Garrett Brown, Lee Campbell

Bruce Smith Outstanding Offensive Player Award – Adam Weber, Eric Decker

Bronko Nagurski Most Valuable Player Award – Willie VanDeSteeg

The Senior Day Banquet also featured remarks from former Minnesota great Judge Dickson. The event wrapped up with the Passing of the Torch Ceremony, which saw every former and current Gopher captain in attendance pass a torch, as underclassman captains Eric Decker and Adam Weber received it at the end of the ceremony.

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