Playing on a team with two All-Americans (defensive end Will Smith and safety Will Allen), Jenkins was a surprise choice to some. But not to OSU head coach Jim Tressel.
"It was a clear vote," Tressel said. "Sometimes in those award things, you get nervous. You say, ‘Oh my, what do we do if it's 36-34.' Last year it was dead even between Chris (Gamble) and Craig (Krenzel). I think people really respected the fact he was able to jumpstart the special teams at a time we needed it. Everyone recognized that Iowa game as a turning point and that he was a guy everybody was rolling up and doubling.
"He still caught 50 balls and made big plays when we needed them. He's within 54 yards of being the all-time leading receiver in our school's history, so that is exciting for him. I think when players are voting for MVP, they're not just voting for what goes on on the field. They're voting about what that person did for the team on and off the field."
Jenkins admitted, though, he was surprised by his teammates' choice.
"Actually, I was surprised," Jenkins said. "It is a great accolade and an honor to have on an Ohio State team that was 10-2. It's a special feeling. I thought somebody else was a little more deserving. My stats weren't impressive, but I guess it was good enough for my teammates to vote me as the MVP.
"I just try to go to practice every day and work hard and do things to help our team win. I go out there and try to make a few good catches."
Approximately 800 people attended the luncheon and awards ceremony, where 26 seniors were recognized for their contributions this past year.
Jenkins led the Buckeyes in receiving during the regular season with 50 receptions for 738 yards and five touchdowns. He averaged 14.8 yards per catch and 61.5 receiving yards per game. Jenkins is just the third wide receiver in Ohio State history to win MVP honors. The other two were split end Cris Carter in 1986 and flanker Jeff Graham in 1990.
Jenkins heads into this year's bowl game with 2,802 career receiving yards on 160 career receptions, totals that rank him second and third, respectively, in the OSU records book. He needs 54 yards to surpass David Boston (2,855) as the school's all-time leader in receiving yardage.
"Michael is an unselfish leader and a great player, who constantly came up with the big play that made the difference for us on both offense and special teams this year," Tressel said of the Tampa, Fla., product. "He has had a great year and a great career as a Buckeye."
The 6-5 Jenkins also received the SAE Award as the Most Valuable Player in the Homecoming Game (Iowa). He returned a punt 52 yards for a touchdown against the Hawkeyes. It was his first career punt return.
The only other award voted on by the players, the Bo Rein Most Inspirational Award, went to senior safety Will Allen. Allen, a first-year starter from Dayton, Ohio, finished the regular season with 79 tackles, a personal high and the second highest figure on the team. Allen, who repeatedly came up with key defensive stops during the 2003 campaign, also received the Arnie Chonko outstanding defensive back award.
Tailback Maurice Hall received the John W. Galbreath Award for combined excellence in athletics and academics. Hall, a junior from Columbus, was a nominee for Academic All-American this year.
Senior quarterback Craig Krenzel received the Archie Griffin Award as the most valuable offensive player, while senior defensive end Will Smith was the Bill Willis Award winner as the most valuable defensive player.
Other award winners were:
Outstanding First-Year Offensive Player -- Santonio Holmes
Outstanding First-Year Defensive Player -- Nate Salley
Rex Kern Outstanding Back Award -- Lydell Ross
Paul Warfield Outstanding Receiver Award -- Ben Hartsock
Jim Parker Outstanding Offensive Lineman Award -- Shane Olivea
Jack Stephenson Outstanding Defensive Lineman Award -- Tim Anderson
Randy Gradishar Outstanding Linebacker Award -- Robert Reynolds
Ike Kelley Special Teams Award -- B.J. Sander