Masoli, James, Ducks' MVPs

EUGENE – Junior quarterback Jeremiah Masoli and redshirt freshman running back LaMichael James were honored as the University of Oregon's Most Outstanding Players while senior defenders Walter Thurmond III and Will Tukuafu were named co-recipients of the team's Most Inspirational Player award at the Ducks' annual football awards banquet Sunday afternoon at the Eugene Hilton.

Recipients for both awards are determined by a vote by the Oregon players.

Tukuafu also was named the recipient of the Joe Schaffeld Award as the team's outstanding defensive lineman.

It marks the first time that two players have shared the Ducks' Most Outstanding Player award since quarterback Joey Harrington and linebacker Matt Smith did so at the conclusion of the 2000 season, while James becomes the team's first freshman on record ever to earn a share of the team's top honor.

Masoli leads the Pacific-10 Conference (t14th nationally) in points responsible for (14.73 avg.), in addition to ranking second in the conference (36th nationally) in total offense (247.7 avg.) and third in passing efficiency. He has completed 168 of 285 passes for 2,066 yards and 15 touchdowns, while Oregon's second-leading rusher ran for 659 yards and 12 more scores. He moved into ninth on the school's single-season (2,725) and career (5,187) total offensive yards lists.

James, who set the Pac-10 freshman rushing record with 1,476 yards on the ground, tied school records with his ninth 100-yard rushing effort of the season as well as seven in a row. The league's second-leading rusher (123.0 avg.) and eighth-best in the country also ranks fifth in the conference in all-purpose yards (138.5 avg.) and 10th in scoring (7.0 avg.). Ranking second on Oregon's single-season rushing ledger, he is averaging 139.8 yards per game in 10 games as a starter.

Additional team award winners honored at the banquet included senior defensive tackle Blake Ferras as the recipient of the Dudley Clarke Memorial Award as the Ducks' most improved player; seniors Titus Jackson and Rory Cavaille with the Elmer Sahlstrom Award in recognition for academics and attitude; junior wide receiver Jeff Maehl with the Duane Cargill Award as the team's impact player as determined by the coaching staff; junior offensive tackle Bo Thran with the Ed Moshofsky Award as Oregon's outstanding offensive lineman, and the Bob Officer Award as the player who excels despite physical adversity; junior Jordan Holmes with the Pancake Club Award for knocking the most opposing defensive linemen to the ground; junior Marvin Johnson with the Gordon E. Wilson Award as the Ducks' special teams player of the year; freshman linebacker Michael Clay with the Len Casanova Award as the first-year player who best exemplifies ideals of competitiveness, team inspiration and outstanding performance; and junior cornerback Talmadge Jackson III as the first recipient of the Todd Doxey Award, given to the player who best exemplifies the spirituality and dedication associated with the Ducks' former defensive back who drowned prior to the start of the 2008 season.

Thurmond was lost for the season with a knee injury while returning the opening kickoff in the fourth game of the year vs. California. Prior to his injury, the standout cornerback and kick returner had returned an interception for a touchdown (the third of his career) against Purdue before running back a punt 78 yards for a score vs. Utah. He had ranked second in the Pac-10 in kickoff (30.2 avg.) and punt returns (15.0 avg.) in addition to accumulating 17 tackles in his first three games of the year.

Tukuafu has accumulated 32 tackles (20 unassisted), including 6.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 quarterback sacks, in addition to forcing one fumble and recovering another.

Oregon captured its eighth conference championship (third this decade) and its fifth Rose Bowl berth with Thursday's 37-33 win over Oregon State, improving its record to 10-2.

In addition, freshman Brian Teague (offense), senior Pono Kam (defense), freshman Anthony Anderson (defense), and freshman Garrett Davis (special teams) were acknowledged as the year's top scout team contributors.

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