Huskers hand out awards at banquet

Lincoln - The Nebraska football program honored its 29-member senior class on Saturday night at the Huskers' annual team banquet at the Embassy Suites in Lincoln . Eight Husker players were also presented with awards as part of the evening's program.

As part of the banquet program, the winners of the 2007 Offensive, Defensive and Special Teams MVP were announced, as well as the Scout Team Players of the Year. Those five award winners were chosen by a vote of their teammates.

In addition, three traditional Nebraska senior awards were presented, as the winners of the Chamberlin Trophy, Novak Trophy and the Fischer Native Son Award were announced. The Chamberlin and Novak awards were voted on by media members, while the Native Son Award was chosen by members of the 2007 Nebraska coaching staff.

The winners of the MVP awards for 2007 are senior wide receiver Maurice Purify (offense), senior linebacker Steve Octavien (defense) and sophomore safety Rickey Thenarse (special teams.)

Maurice Purify

Steve Octavien

Rickey Thenarse


Purify captured the offensive award after an outstanding 2007 season in which he caught 57 passes for 814 yards and nine touchdowns. The 57 catches and the nine touchdowns were both the second-most in school history, while his 814 receiving yards rank third on the single-season charts. The 6-4, 220-pound Purify finished his two-year Husker career with 91 receptions and 16 touchdowns.

Ben Eisenhart

A native of Naples , Fla. , Octavien rebounded from two-injury plagued seasons to lead the Husker defense in 2007. Octavien finished the year with a team-high 92 tackles, including 56 solo stops. The 6-0, 240-pound WILL linebacker also led the Huskers with 15 tackles for loss totaling 52 yards and a team-high nine quarterback hurries.

Thenarse has been selected as the winner of the special teams award for the second straight year. Thenarse excelled on nearly every Nebraska special teams unit, while also playing a key role in the secondary. He finished the year with 28 total tackles, many of which came on special teams. His play helped Nebraska rank among the Big 12's best units in punt and kickoff return coverage.

Senior cornerback Cortney Grixby was honored with this year's Tom Novak Trophy. The Novak Trophy is presented to the senior who "best exemplifies courage and determination despite all odds in the manner of Nebraska All-America center Tom Novak." The 5-9, 170-pound Grixby was a three-year starter and two-time honorable-mention All-Big 12 selection who finished sixth in school history with 32 career pass breakups.

Linebacker Bo Ruud was awared the Guy Chamberlin Trophy, which is presented annually to the senior player who has shown by the play and contributions to the betterment of the University of Nebraska football squad that he has the qualities and dedication of Guy Chamberlin to the great Cornhusker tradition. Ruud has been among Nebraska 's top defenders each of the past three years, and finished his senior season with 54 tackles and a pair of interception returns for touchdowns. Ruud's older brother, Barrett, was the 2004 recipient of the Chamberlin Trophy.

Bo Ruud

The Huskers' third senior award, the Cletus Fischer Native Son Award, was presented to safety Ben Eisenhart, a native of Culbertson. The award is presented annually to the senior player selected by the Husker coaches, who best exemplifies the following qualities: good work ethic, competitiveness, leadership, forthrightness, sense of humor, pride, loyalty and love of Nebraska . Eisenhart has been a special teams standout throughout his Nebraska career, and played an increased role in the secondary this fall. Originally a walk-on, Eisenhart earned a scholarship in 2006. He finished his senior season with 41 tackles.

The offensive scout team MVP was quarterback Zac Lee, who engineered the scout team offense throughout the fall. Lee's selection marks the second straight year a quarterback has won the award after Sam Keller was last year's winner. Lee has three seasons of eligibility left with the Huskers. The defensive scout team MVP was senior defensive end Thomas Rice. The Lincoln native has been a scout team leader throughout his career. Rice made the most of his opportunity to play against Kansas State this fall, making an unassisted tackle on one of his first snaps.

Nebraska academic award winners were also honored at the banquet, led by J.B. Phillips who earned first-team CoSIDA Academic All-District VII honoree. Junior student manager Jeff Dannehl was also presented the Tom and Terri Burnell Student Manager Scholarship.

Approximately 400 people attended the Saturday night banquet. The winners of the Chamberlin and Novak trophies and the Cletus Fischer Native Son Award will also be honored as part of the Outland Trophy Banquet in Omaha on Jan. 10.

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