Phillips Named Most Outstanding Player

EUGENE – Senior linebacker Blair Phillips was honored as the University of Oregon's Most Outstanding Player while linebacker Brent Haberly and free safety J.D. Nelson were voted the Most Inspirational Players at the football team's annual awards banquet Saturday afternoon at the Eugene Hilton.

The recipients of the top two team awards were voted on by their teammates and represents the first time in three years that an Oregon linebacker has received the team's most outstanding honor. Kevin Mitchell was the recipient of the award in 2003 as it marks the second consecutive season that a defensive player has been bestowed the honor after defensive tackle Haloti Ngata was named MVP a year ago.

Phillips led Oregon with 98 tackles in 2006, including 53 unassisted stops, despite missing the majority of Friday's 30-28 loss to Oregon State due to a knee injury. In addition, the Alexandria, La., product was credited with a blocked field goal earlier in the year to preserve a 34-33 win over Oklahoma and returned an interception 36 yards at USC.

Included among Phillips' season highlights were a career-high 14 tackles against the Sooners and Washington State as he led the team in tackles in five of 12 games.

Haberly finished the regular season with 16 tackles after missing seven games with a broken forearm suffered against Oklahoma. He returned to play in the Ducks' home finale vs. Arizona as well as Friday's game at Oregon State.

Nelson stands as Oregon's second-leading tackler, with 39 of his 77 stops unassisted. Included were a career-high 15 tackles at Washington State in addition to forcing a fumble against the Cougars, recovering a loose football vs. Portland State and intercepting a pass at USC.

In addition to taking part in 48 games throughout his collegiate career, Nelson also was awarded this year's Bob Officer Award as the individual who has played despite physical adversity.

Additional honorees included redshirt freshman cornerback Jairus Byrd as recipient of the Len Casanova Award (first-year player who best exemplifies the ideals of competitiveness, team inspiration and outstanding performance); Jordan Kent as the team's most improved (Clarke Award); Dante Rosario and Jon Pope as Oregon's outstanding special teams players (Gordon Wilson Award); Max Unger as Oregon's top offensive lineman (Ed Moshofsky Award); Matt Toeaina as the top defensive lineman (Joe Schaffeld Award); Jaison Williams for impact by a skilled position player as determined by the coaching staff (Duane Cargill Award); and Drew Larson as the senior academic/attitude award (Elmer Sahlstrom Award).

In addition, true freshmen Remene Alston and Marvin Johnson, as well as sophomore Erik Elshire, were acknowledged as the program's top scout team contributors.

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