The University of Minnesota football team and the Goal Line Club celebrated the 2016 regular season at the annual Golden Gopher Football Banquet on Sunday afternoon at the Hilton Minneapolis.
The highlight of the program was the announcement of the team's annual awards. Sophomore running back Rodney Smith was honored with the Bronko Nagurski Award, which is given annually to the team's most valuable player.
Smith also received the Bruce Smith Award (outstanding offensive player) and was named the Bob McNamara Offensive Back of the Year.
Damarius Travis also garnered three awards. He received the Carl Eller Award (outstanding defensive player), was named defensive back of the year and was acknowledged with the Tony Dungy Character and Community Service Award (great character on and off the field).
Kicker Emmit Carpenter won the Bobby Bell Award (outstanding special teams player) after finishing the season with 104 points.
Linebacker Blake Cashman received the Gary Tinsley Award for best embracing the underdog persona of Gary Tinsley, who played for the Gophers from 2008-11 and passed away in April 2012.
Quarterback Mitch Leidner collected two awards, as he was honored with the Paul Giel Award (unselfishness and most concern for Minnesota) and the Neil Fredenburg Award (love of the game). Leidner shared the Neil Fredenburg Award with Nick Rallis and Jack Lynn.
Senior defensive lineman Scott Ekpe was honored with the Butch Nash Award (competitive on the field and in the classroom).
Senior wide receiver Drew Wolitarsky was voted Wide Receiver of the Year and Nate Wozniak received the Tight End of the Year award.
Jonah Pirsig was named Offensive Lineman of the Year for the second straight season, while Steven Richardson collected Defensive Lineman of the Year honors. Jonathan Celestin was feted with Linebacker of the Year honors.
Antoine Winfield Jr. earned Outstanding Defensive Freshman of the Year accolades, while Tyler Johnson was recognized as Outstanding Offensive Freshman of the Year.
The Offensive Work Team Player of the Year was Seth Green, while Gary Moore repeated as Defensive Work Team Player of the Year.
2016 GOLDEN GOPHER FOOTBALL BANQUET AWARD WINNERS
Bronko Nagurski Award (Team MVP) – Rodney Smith
Bruce Smith Award (Outstanding Offensive Player) – Rodney Smith
Carl Eller Award (Outstanding Defensive Player) – Damarius Travis
Bobby Bell Award (Outstanding Special Teams Player) – Emmit Carpenter
Gary Tinsley Award – Blake Cashman
Neil Fredenburg Award – Mitch Leidner, Nick Rallis and Jack Lynn
Paul Giel Award – Mitch Leidner
Butch Nash Award – Scott Ekpe
Tony Dungy Award – Damarius Travis
Offensive Lineman of the Year – Jonah Pirsig
Bob McNamara Offensive Back of the Year – Rodney Smith
Wide Receiver of the Year – Drew Wolitarsky
Tight End of the Year – Nate Wozniak
Defensive Lineman of the Year – Steven Richardson
Linebacker of the Year – Jonathan Celestin
Defensive Back of the Year – Damarius Travis
Outstanding Offensive Freshman of the Year – Tyler Johnson
Outstanding Defensive Freshman of the Year – Antoine Winfield Jr.
Offensive Work Team Player of the Year – Seth Green
Defensive Work Team Player of the Year – Gary Moore
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