OFFENSIVE POST-SEASON AWARDS
Most Valuable Player - Not Returning: Cory Ross
This is easily Cory Ross' award this year. Statistically this wasn't the year that many were expecting that he might have. I am sure that "The Chop" would have wanted to have better numbers and a better record. Bottom line though is that without Cory this year a lot of things don't go our way. He was the most complete back on the team this year and will leave some very big shoes to fill.
Most Valuable Player - Returning: Zac Taylor
I became a real big Taylor fan this year. The way that he would stay in the pocket as you watched it crumble around him and the way he would come back the next down, do it again and make a key play. You saw his game evolve too. He isn't what people would call a mobile quarterback by any means, but when Taylor saw the holes he showed the ability and the toughness to tuck it and run. He will play a critical role next year as Nebraska makes another run at the Big 12 North.
Most Surprising Player: Nate Swift
There are a number of guys that I contemplated putting here like Todd Peterson, Matt Slauson, Lydon Murtha, Chris Patrick or even another award for Zac Taylor, but Nate Swift was "the other guy" from Hutchinson, Minn. until this year. He had the type of year that brought back thoughts of Irving Fryar and Jon Bostick. A clutch receiver with good speed and above all height and toughness.
Time To Show Up on Offense: Andrew Christensen
This list had some other players all narrowly missing this list like Marlon Lucky, Chris Brooks, Matt Herian, and Frantz Hardy. All have their reasons for not being a bigger part of this team this past year. With Andrew it was simply a case of bad luck. In fall camp Andrew suffered a shoulder injury which required surgery. At the time he was practicing with the 1's on offense and his loss could be seen about every time Taylor dropped back to pass.
Now It's On: Jordan Picou
This award goes to my most anticipated player who will be coming off of a redshirt year who should have the biggest impact next year. The most versatile player on the offensive line next year could be Jordan Picou. He has seen his time at guard so far this year, but expect him to move outside. "Hot Sauce" has the best feet of any lineman on the team and should come in and make an immediate impact on the offensive line next year."
It's tough to give the nod over either of the junior college tackles. Haines comes in at semester and will get a jump on learning the offense and can stake an early claim at playing time or a starting position. Nicks on the other hand comes in a little more heralded and a little more suited to play left OT while Haines has playing right OT this past year. It should be interesting and an improvement over any other situation last year involving the depth at the tackle position. Maurice Purify and Tyrell Spain just missed this award.
DEFENSIVE POST-SEASON AWARDS
Most Valuable Player - Not Returning: Le Kevin Smith
LeKevin made a wise choice and came back to Lincoln this past year to show that he can be a disruptive force in the middle. You may have missed his name in a lot of box scores or didn't hear it a lot when sacks were brought up, but quietly Smith had a very solid senior year. Smith had 10 tackles for loss which resulted in 50 lost yards and five sacks for a loss of 33 yards. Smith might be remembered by some for the interception and fumble versus Texas Tech, but I will remember a disruptive force inside.
Most Valuable Player - Returning: Corey McKeon
Going into the season there wasn't a player that I anticipated seeing more than Steve Octavien and he might have made this list had he stayed healthy, but the person that really made the headlines this year was Corey McKeon. Whether if it was his athleticism on the field, his knack for being where the ball is or his outrageous post-game/practice interviews, Corey was the man on defense this year. I never would have figured him to be a factor this year, but in the end he gets the MVP.
Most Surprising Player - Corey McKeon
Again, I never figured that Corey would have had to have been anything more than solid when flanked by Stewart Bradley and Steve Octavien, but he was nothing short of spectacular. McKeon was able to endure the early loss of Octavien by his side and then Bradley to still put together solid numbers and lead the team in total tackles.
Time To Show Up On Defense - Zach Bowman
Bowman, as I understand it, dealt with some leg injuries for a good portion of the year. Beyond that though, you never got to see the highly anticipated, lock-down corner that we all expected. Out of unofficial summer practice and fall camp reports, Bowman was making plays. Bowman did nab one interception and had nine pass break ups, but bigger things are to be expected from Bowman next year.
Now it's on: Nick Covey
Nebraska pretty much played their entire defensive recruiting class except for Covey. Covey, however, should be something to look forward to for next year. Covey has a bit of a wild side in him and beyond that has speed and toughness that should get him on the field playing linebacker and definitely in on special teams.
There is not another corps out there that has received as big of a facelift as the defensive secondary has this past two seasons. First, they were decimated by graduation or players leaving early for the NFL. This year they lose their top two safeties and are still looking for some consistency at cornerback. Enter Ashlee Palmer and Andre Jones. Both bring big play potential and the promise of two new faces in the secondary next season. Steve Allen and Brandon Johnson just missed this award.
Most Valuable Award - Not Returning: Sam Koch
We are again putting another punter into the league next year with Koch being a senior this year. His strong leg came up in clutch times this year to bail out an offense that just couldn't keep drives alive at times. Koch rarely disappointed this year and showed why he will follow Larson into the NFL.
Most Valuable Award - Returning: Jordan Congdon
I was tempted, very tempted, to put in a shocker here with Brandon Rigoni. Rigoni needs to have something said about him and here it is, no one plays with more intensity and heart on this football team, period. There, now this award doesn't surprise me at all going to Congdon who really impressed me on his high school film and in San Antonio last year at the U.S. Army All-American Game.