Barber Named Team MVP at Football Awards Banquet

Senior strong safety Dominique Barber received the Bronko Nagurski Award as the Gophers’ most valuable player and sophomore wide receive Eric Decker took home the Bruce Smith Award as the team’s most outstanding offensive player to highlight the awards presentations during Minnesota’s annual Senior Football Banquet Sunday night at The Metropolitan.

A unanimous second team All-Big Ten pick by both the coaches and the media this season, Barber also earned the Carl Eller Award as the Gophers’ most outstanding defensive player.

During the 2007 season, Barber led Minnesota and ranked ninth in the conference with 100 total tackles. He also led or tied for the team lead in tackles in four of 12 games, finished with double-figure stops four times, had seven pass break-ups and recovered three fumbles, including one he returned for a 46-yard touchdown at Michigan.

Decker closed out the 2007 campaign as the most prolific pass-catcher in Minnesota single-season history after hauling in 67 receptions for 909 yards and nine touchdowns. Decker’s 67 receptions broke Tutu Atwell’s 1996 record of 62 catches, while his receiving yardage and touchdowns also ranked in the Gophers’ top five all-time in school history.

Other players receiving awards Sunday night included junior punter Justin Kucek and sophomore linebacker Nathan Triplett, who were co-recipients of the Bobby Bell Award for outstanding play on special teams along with CoSIDA Academic All-District and Academic All-Big Ten performers senior linebacker John Shevlin and senior offensive lineman Steve Shidell, who earned the Butch Nash Award for their combined contributions on the field and in the classroom.

The Paul Giel Award, which is annually award to the player(s) who displays the most unselfishness and the most concern for the University of Minnesota, went to senior defensive tackle Todd Meisel and senior center Tony Brinkhaus, with the Neil Fredenberg Award for courage and love of the game going to senior linebacker Mike Sherels and senior running back Justin Valentine.

Four freshmen were also honored at the banquet. Record setting quarterback Adam Weber, who smashed virtually all of Minnesota’s single-season passing and total offense marks in 2007, was named the team’s most outstanding first-year player on offense. The team’s most outstanding first-year player on defense went to Kyle Theret, who led the Gophers in interceptions with three. Wide receiver Kyle Moore and linebacker Andre Tate’ were tapped as the Gophers’ most outstanding scout team players.

The evening concluded with a pair of special awards for two outstanding seniors. Wide receiver Ernie Wheelwright, who finished his career ranked No. 3 in school history in both career receptions (159) and career receiving yards (2,434) while ranking No. 2 in all time in receiving touchdowns (26), earned the Coaches’ Award for Career Achievement and Amir Pinnix, the No. 8 rusher in school history with 2,439 yards, received the Tony Dungy Character and Community Service Award.

BRONKO NAGURSKI AWARD (Team Most Valuable Player)
- Dominique Barber, Sr.

BRUCE SMITH AWARD (Outstanding Offensive Player)
- Eric Decker, So.

CARL ELLER AWARD (Outstanding Defensive Player)
- Dominique Barber, Sr.

BOBBY BELL AWARD (Outstanding Special Forces Player)
- Justin Kucek, Jr. and Nathan Triplett, So.

BUTCH NASH AWARD (Competitive on the field and in the classroom)
- John Shevlin, Sr. (Defense)
- Steve Shidell, Sr. (Offense)

PAUL GIEL AWARD (Unselfishness and most concern about the U of M)
- Todd Meisel, Sr. (Defense)
- Tony Brinkhaus, Sr. (Offense)

NEIL FREDENBURG AWARD (Courage and Love of the Game)
- Mike Sherels, Sr. (Defense)
- Justin Valentine, Sr. (Offense)

- Kyle Theret, Fr. (Defense)
- Adam Weber, Fr. (Offense)

- Kyle Moore, Fr. (Offense)
- Andre Tate’, Fr. (Defense)

- Ernie Wheelwright, Sr.

TONY DUNGY CHARACTER AND COMMUNITY SERVICE AWARD (Player that displays great character on and off the field and whose work in the community has equaled his play on the field)
- Amir Pinnix, Sr.




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