Nov. 25, 2012
The University of Minnesota football team and the Goal Line Club celebrated the 2012 season at the annual Golden Gopher Football Banquet Sunday afternoon at the Hilton Minneapolis.
The highlight of the program was the announcement of the team's annual awards. Senior MarQueis Gray was honored with the Bronko Nagurski Award, which is given annually to the team's most valuable player. Gray also received the award last year and is the first Gopher to be recognized in consecutive years since Laurence Maroney in 2004 and 2005. Maroney shared the 2004 award with Marion Barber III and the 2005 award with Greg Eslinger.
Gray was also bestowed with the Paul Giel Award, which goes to the player deemed to have the most unselfishness and most concern about the University of Minnesota.
Running back Donnell Kirkwood received the Bruce Smith Award as the team's outstanding offensive player, while defensive back Mike Carter was honored with the Carl Eller Award as the Gophers' outstanding defensive player. Michael Carter's cousin, Tyrone Carter, won the Carl Eller Award in 1998 and 1999.
Punter Christian Eldred received the Bobby Bell Award as the team's outstanding special teams player.
The Tony Dungy Character and Community Service Award was given to Connor Cosgrove, while Aaron Hill repeated as the Butch Nash Award winner. Hill is the first player to be recognized with the Butch Nash Award winner, which honors a player for being competitive on the field and in the classroom, since Parc Williams in 1997-98.
Mike Rallis earned the Neil Fredenburg Award, which is given annually to the player who has the most courage and love of the game.
This year was also the first time that the Gary Tinsley Award was handed out. The award, named for the late Gary Tinsley, who played for the Gophers from 2008-11 and passed away in April 2012, will be given annually to a player who best embraced Tinsley's underdog persona. The inaugural Gary Tinsley Award was presented to Keanon Cooper.
In addition to those honors, the following awards were also handed out Sunday:
Offensive Lineman of the Year - Zac Epping
Offensive Back of the Year - Donnell Kirkwood
Wide Receiver of the Year - Isaac Fruechte
Defensive Lineman of the Year - D.L. Wilhite
Linebacker of the Year - Mike Rallis
Defensive Back of the Year - Mike Carter
Outstanding Offensive Freshman of the Year - Philip Nelson and Rodrick Williams
Outstanding Defensive Freshman of the Year - Scott Ekpe
Offensive Work Team Player of the Year - Cole Banham and Mitch Leidner
Defensive Work Team Player of the Year - Matt Garin and Jack Lynn
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Wolitarsky Winnipeg Bound
Former Minnesota receiver Drew Wolitarsky was selected by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the CFL supplemental draft.