Gopher Tight End Matt Spaeth Wins John Mackey Award
The Nassau County Sports Commission (NCSC) and the ESPN Home Depot College Football Awards Show have announced that Gopher senior Matt Spaeth is the recipient of the 2006 John Mackey Award, given to the nation’s top tight end. Spaeth becomes the third Big Ten player to earn the award and the first Gopher since the award’s inception in 2000.

“I am honored to be named the recipient of the John Mackey Award. This is truly unbelievable and a moment that I will never forget,” said Spaeth. “For me, this has been the most memorable season of my career because of the way we hung together as a team and being recognized as the top tight end in the nation only adds to that. I would like to thank my family, coaches and teammates for all their support, and I couldn’t be happier to accept this award on behalf of the University of Minnesota. ”    

The St. Michael, Minn., native is the sixth player at Minnesota to win a major national award. This is also the second consecutive season in which a Gopher football player has won a national award. Former Gopher center Greg Eslinger won both the 2005 Outland Trophy and Rimington Trophy last season. Spaeth also joins Bruce Smith (Heisman Trophy, 1941), Tom Brown (Outland Trophy, 1960), Bobby Bell (Outland Trophy, 1962) and Tyrone Carter (Thorpe Award, 1999) as Gopher national award winners.

Spaeth was named first-team All-Big Ten by both the media and the coaches for the second consecutive season in 2006. Spaeth was also selected as one of the honorees for this year’s Big Ten Sportsmanship Award. Spaeth received honorable-mention recognition by both the coaches and media in 2004, his sophomore season.

In 2006 Spaeth became the school’s all-time leader in career receptions (109) and receiving yards (1,293) by a tight end, surpassing current Indianapolis Colt Ben Utecht in both categories. He also ranks ninth all-time in career receiving touchdowns with 12. Spaeth was second on the team in receptions and receiving yards in 2006, catching 47 passes for 564 yards with four touchdowns.

Spaeth earned the Mackey Award over Notre Dame junior John Carlson and Arizona State junior Zach Miller.
The three finalists were determined by confidential balloting of the John Mackey Selection Committee. Spaeth will be presented with the award at the Nassau County Sports Commission Annual Awards Dinner on April 30, 2007.
The John Mackey Award is given to the collegiate tight end that best exemplifies the play, sportsmanship, academics, and community values of NFL Hall of Fame Tight End John Mackey.
All-Time John Mackey Award Recipients
Year       Player                        School
2006       Matt Spaeth              Minnesota
2005       Marcedes Lewis      UCLA
2004       Heath Miller               University of Virginia
2003       Kellen Winslow II     University of Miami
2002       Dallas Clark             University of Iowa
2001       Daniel Graham        University of Colorado
2000       Tim Stratton             Purdue University




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