When Oklahoma State sends out captains for the coin toss at the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1, 2016 it will be the official team captains for the 2015 season. Those were announced Sunday night at the Cowboys annual Team and Senior Football Banquet held at the Wes Watkins Center on the Oklahoma State campus.
Defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah, quarterback J.W. Walsh, cornerback Kevin Peterson, inside receiver David Glidden, and special teams standout and cornerback Miketavius Jones are the five players that will forever be recognized as the captains of the 2015 Cowboys as voted on by their teammates.
Captain is one of the highest honors that you can receive, but not the only honor passed out by the OSU coaching staff and head coach Mike Gundy. All of the 18 recognized seniors were honored, and that included both Ogbah, who is a fourth-year junior who is eligible to declare for the NFL Draft and likely will do so, and Walsh, who is expected through the OSU athletic compliance office to request a sixth-year of eligibility from the NCAA dues to lost time from injuries.
In fact, Gundy commented that OSU may have the only pair of quarterbacks that have finished games after breaking or cracking some bone in the knee or foot. Walsh played most of a game against Iowa State in 2012 with a cracked knee cap while Mason Rudolph this season played the Baylor game with a broken bone in his foot suffered in the second quarter.
Other award winners on the night included senior special teams player and holder Bryant Reber, winner of the Dr. L.L. Boger Award for Academic Achievement with the highest senior grade-point average on the team.
The Vernon Grant Spirit Award for contributing to the team through leadership and keeping spirit and attitude high went to four different players, two on each side of the ball. Quarterback J.W. Walsh and offensive tackle Zach Crabtree were honored on the offense and two absolute outstanding leaders that both suffered season-ending injuries in middle linebacker Ryan Simmons and defensive end Jimmy Bean were honored from the defensive side.
Walsh, by the way, as the package score zone and short-yardage quarterback and in his one start against OU had 285 yards and 11 touchdowns rushing with 48-of-71 passing for 663 yards and 13 touchdowns and just one interception.
I've never quite figured out why this award is named after Barry Sanders but it is the award for the most contributions made with the least amount of recognition and it was given to a pair of the Cowboy backs in senior Jeremy Seaton and junior Blake Jarwin. Both were injured in the Iowa State game but both are expected to return for the Sugar Bowl. Seaton had six receptions for 70 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while Jarwin had 14 catches for 190 yards and also a pair of touchdowns. Both also do a lot of blocking and contribute on special teams.
The Russell Okung Award goes to the outstanding freshmen and was presented to inside receiver and punt returner Jalen McCleskey for the offense and defensive tackle Darrion Daniels claimed it for the defense. McCleskey caught 26 passes and three for touchdowns while taking back a punt for a critical touchdown at Texas Tech. Daniels had 15 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, and a half a sack playing in critical snaps at defensive tackle.
The top special teams players were Miketavius Jones and super senior transfer from Indiana Michael Hunter Jr., as Jones played on virtually all the special team units and had a blocked punt scooped and scored with against Kansas. Hunter also played on virtually every special team and along with Jones was one of the leading tacklers on special teams.
The Leslie O'Neal Award for MVP performance on defense went to a pair of players on the back end of the defense in Peterson and safety Jordan Sterns. Peterson wasn't thrown at as much because of the respect opposing players and coaches have for him and presenter and defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer let the audience in on the fact that Peterson played so much of the season hurt with multiple injuries.
Peterson had 37 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, an interception, six pass break ups, and fumble recovery. Sterns, who is a big hitter had a team leading 103 tackles, two interceptions, a fumble caused, and a fumble recovery.
The Thurman Thomas Award for MVP performance on offense went to a pair of receivers in senior David Glidden and sophomore James Washington. Washington caught 52 passes for 1,077 yards and an outstanding 20.7 yards per reception average. He also had 10 touchdowns. Glidden caught 52 passes for 807 yards and three touchdowns.
Finally, the Bob Fenimore Award for team MVP performance went to Ogbah and starting quarterback Mason Rudolph. Gundy gave the award to the pair and earlier in the evening he had reiterated that Rudolph, currently on crutches, would be ready to play in the Sugar Bowl. Gundy said he should practice some in Stillwater even before the team gathers in New Orleans.
Rudolph completed 246-of-393 passing for 63 percent completion and 3,591 yards with 21 touchdowns and just 9 interceptions. Ogbah, who really deserves All-American honors and is a finalist for the Ted Hendricks Award for the top college defensive end, finished the season with 13.0 sacks and 17.5 tackles for losses both numbers lead the Big 12. He also had 61 total tackles, the most of any defensive lineman in the Big 12.