2013 Texas Tech Football Awards

There was no shortage of stellar play throughout the roller coaster ride of a 2013 season, which ended triumphantly with a 37-23 victory over heavily favored Arizona State in the Holiday Bowl. Sophomore linebacker Pete Robertson (pictured) is our pick for Most Improved Player.

In the first year of Kliff Kingsbury's reign as head coach of the Texas Tech Red Raiders, there was quite a bit of turmoil and tumult. Before the season even began, an injury threw the all important quarterback position into disarray. Then, as defensive injuries mounted up, Tech went into a late-season tailspin with five straight losses following a 7-0 start and top 10 ranking. The Red Raiders were next extended an invitation to the Holiday Bowl to battle the No. 14 Arizona State Sun Devils. It looked like the pain would continue. But the Red Raiders pulled a rabbit out of the hat and handed ASU their keister, pulling off a 37-23 shocker.

There were obviously several Red Raider players and coaches who had great seasons and helped Tech finish the season in sterling fashion. We'll now dole out the postseason awards to those individuals.

Most Improved Player: Pete Robertson The Red Raider defense had its fair share of struggles, but sophomore linebacker Pete Robertson was a pretty consistent playmaker, and a much improved player. As a freshman he didn't start a game, registered 20 tackles and one tackle for loss as a backup. In 2013 Robertson tripled his tackle total, notched nine tackles for loss, recorded 2.5 sacks and five passes defended. Robertson will be a critical player for the Red Raiders next season.

Most Surprising Player: Tanner Jacobson The unknown, undersized walkon freshman from Southlake Carroll was pressed into duty when injury shelved starter J. J. Gaines. Jacobson responded by finishing eighth on the team in tackles with 47. He also forced a pair of fumbles. There were occasions when Jacobson appeared overmatched, but more often than not he was up to the job and played far beyond his fame and experience.

Newcomer of the Year: Davis Webb If there was any doubt who would win this award a week ago, Davis Webb erased it with his sparkling performance in Tech's upset victory over Arizona State in the Holiday Bowl. In that game, he played like an All American. And his body of work over the course of the season wasn't bad either. Webb passed for 2,718 yards, completed 63 percent of his passes, and tossed 20 touchdown passes. He will go into 2014 the odds-on favorite to win the starting berth.

Assistant Coach of the Year: Matt Wallerstedt – There is room to debate just how much progress Tech's defense made under first-year coordinator Matt Wallerstedt, but there can be no doubt about how the inside linebackers performed under his supervision. Will Smith was average at best as a junior, but blossomed into a truly excellent linebacker in his senior campaign. And fellow inside ‘backer Sam Eguavoen equaled Smith in terms of improvement. Eguavoen had 18 more tackles, five more tackles for loss and three more quarterback hurries than he had in 2012, and really developed into a solid player, particularly against the run. Wallerstedt got the most out of Smith and Eguavoen, and oversaw increased productivity from backup Micah Awe as well.

Offensive MVP: Eric Ward Texas Tech has had several superstars in the receiving corps over the last decade or so. Wes Welker, Michael Crabtree and Jace Amaro leap immediately to mind. But rarely has this unit had a more quietly productive workhorse than Eric Ward. The senior from Wichita Falls was not an All American. He didn't even receive a great deal of All Big 12 press. But few bettered Ward for dependability. And his senior campaign was a microcosm of his Tech career. Ward hauled in 83 passes for 947 yards and recorded eight touchdowns while playing with three different quarterbacks. Ward ends his Tech career with the second most receptions in school history.

Defensive MVP: Will Smith – The previous coaching staff praised JUCO transfer Will Smith to the high heavens, but Smith largely failed to validate the hosannas. In 2013, however, Smith emerged as the player many coaches and observers expected him to be. Smith recorded 120 tackles in 2013, an astounding 44 more than second place Tre' Porter. Additionally, he was second on the team in tackles for loss with 10.5, tallied 4.5 sacks, three quarterback hurries and a fumble recovery. And he may have saved his best for last, winning Defensive MVP honors in the Holiday Bowl.

Team MVP: Jace Amaro – Texas Tech has produced two All American tight ends, Andre Tillman and Jace Amaro. The latter had statistically the greatest single season of any tight end in college football history. Had he elected to return for his senior season, he may well have gone down as the greatest college football tight end ever. As it is, he will still be known as one of the truly great ones and will move on to more lucrative activities very shortly. Amaro was a classic chain-mover who did most of his work over the middle where he absorbed fearful punishment. But he was also a superlative blocker, and it is that skill that separates him from practically every other tight end in captivity, regardless of level.

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