Monday, December 14, 2009

UConn presents team awards

STORRS, Conn. (December 14, 2009) – The University of Connecticut football team held its annual awards ceremony at a team dinner on Sunday night at The Burton Family Football Complex.

Senior tailback Andre Dixon (New Brunswick, N.J.) received two team awards on the night, the Team Most Valuable Player award and the newly created Jasper T. Howard Play-Every-Play Award. Howard’s award is presented to a strong team player who best exemplifies a “battle-to-the-end” spirit during every game through every play as Jazz did in his short time at UConn. Howard’s life was cut short in the early morning hours of October 18, 2009 following a career day against Louisville on Homecoming where he is quoted as saying “You gotta play every play like it’s the last play you’ll ever play.” Dixon was the epitome of this quote rushing for 967 yards on 206 attempts, registering 14 touchdowns including the game-winner in double overtime at Notre Dame that helped UConn to their first victory since the passing of Howard and shifted the momentum of the Huskies’ season.

His counterpart, sophomore Jordan Todman (North Dartmouth, Mass.), who became the 11th UConn running back to rush for over 1,000 yards in a single season was named the team’s Offensive Player of the Year. Todman has racked up 1,152 rushing yards, 184 receiving yards, and scored a team-best 14 touchdowns this season.

The team’s Defensive Player of the Year was junior linebacker Lawrence Wilson (Tuscaloosa, Ala.), who led the BIG EAST in tackles for the majority of the season. Wilson finished the year with 136 tackles, 10 tackles for a loss of 39 yards and four sacks totaling 27 yards lost. He also forced three fumbles on the year, recovering two. Wilson earned All-BIG EAST First Team honors already this season.

The Special Teams Player of the Year award was given to one of the captains, junior Anthony Sherman (North Attleboro, Mass.). Sherman contributed on both sides of the ball in special teams play running back a kick return for 10 yards while also tackling 21 returners throughout the course of the season.

The Brian Kozlowski Award was given to another one of the four captains, senior Robert McClain (Lusby, Md.). This award is designated for a courageous, hard working and productive person. The award is named for the former Husky tight end, later a 13-year NFL veteran, who through relentless hard work, effort and dedication was able to have a lengthy NFL career. McClain was stellar in all aspects of the game this year contributing on both defense and special teams. He finished the year with 60 tackles, four interceptions, three pass breakups and a fumble recovery on defense. McClain stepped in as the punt returner halfway through the season running back 15 punts for a BIG EAST leading 222 yards and a touchdown.

Senior captain Desi Cullen (Louisville, Ky.) was awarded the Kendall Madison Award which is presented to a strong team player whose dedication, hard work, positive attitude and outstanding citizenship best exemplifies the proud spirit of the UConn Huskies. The award is named for the former Husky who was tragically killed in the mid 1990s while being a good Samaritan in his attempt to break up an altercation. Cullen was a leader on and off the field for the Huskies. He finished the year with 57 punts for 2,457 yards, an average of 43.1 yards per punt, third best in the BIG EAST.

The Football Alumni Award was given to senior Marcus Easley (Stratford, Conn.), a player who has demonstrated leadership, dedication, and is recognized by the coaches and his teammates as the ultimate team player. A former walk-on, turned scholarship player, Easley has worked hard for a career season this year grabbing a team best 44 receptions for 853 yards and eight touchdowns also setting blocks for Todman and Dixon and helping them to career seasons.

The John L. Toner Scholar-Athlete Award was given to senior Brad Kanuch (Johnstown, Pa.). This award was designed to honor a senior member of the football program who has demonstrated outstanding academic performance and citizenship while making a significant contribution to the overall success of the team. Selected by the Football CPIA Staff, the award is named after the former UConn athletic director and football coach and NCAA President. The senior sports and leisure major has nabbed 27 passes for 325 yards this season scoring a touchdown. Earlier in the season he was named to the CoSIDA District 1 Academic All-District First Team after maintaining a 3.67 GPA through his first six semesters at the university.

Finally, the Joseph M. Giannelli Unsung Hero Award was given to a player who doesn’t get a lot of credit at his position, senior offensive tackle Mike Hicks (Seymour, Conn.). The award is presented to a University of Connecticut Football Player, selected by the coaching staff, who by his effort, dedication and steady performance without notice or acclaim has made a significant contribution to the University of Connecticut Football Program. Hicks has made some key blocks this season helping his running backs, Todman and Dixon, to rush for over a combined 2,000 yards.


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