Nov. 20, 2000
EVANSTON, Ill. -
The Northwestern University football team announced its postseason awards Sunday afternoon at the team banquet, which was held at the Omni Orrington Hotel in Evanston.
The Wildcats' Most Valuable Player, by vote of the coaches, was junior running back Damien Anderson (Wilmington, Ill./Wilmington). Anderson set numerous school records this season, highlighted by the single-season rushing (1,914 yards) and touchdown (22) marks. Perhaps most impressively, he rushed for 1,549 (193.7 avg.) in Big Ten play, shattering the previous record of 1,470 (183.7) held by Lorenzo White of Michigan State in 1985. While White needed 288 rushing attempts to set the record in 1985, Anderson needed just 234 attempts this season.
The George Ballantine, Jr. Memorial Leadership Award, given to "the player who demonstrates the enthusiasm and leadership which exemplifies George's contributions to NU football," was awarded to junior wide receiver Sam Simmons (Kansas City, Kan./F.L. Schlagle). He finished the season with a team-high 35 receptions for 474 yards, and caught late game-winning touchdown passes against both Minnesota and Michigan.
The Thomas Airth Spirit Award, presented to "the football player whose spirit and enthusiasm has been an inspiration to teammates, coaches and fans throughout the season," was given to another wide receiver, senior Teddy Johnson (Elgin, Ill./Larkin). Johnson tied a school record this year, scoring in five straight games, and led the Wildcats with six TD catches. Overall, he caught 29 passes for 542 yards, averaging 18.7 yards per catch.
The Carnig Minasian Citizenship Award, given to "the member of the football team who has been an outstanding citizen on campus, in practice, and on the field...in all aspects of campus life," was awarded to junior quarterback Zak Kustok (Orland Park, Ill./Carl Sandburg). Kustok set school records with 2,701 yards of total offense and 18 touchdown passes, and also ran for nine scores.
The Marcel Price Award, given to "the player who best exhibits the enthusiasm and dedication to the Wildcat program and is symbolic of Marcel's desire," was awarded to senior safety Rashad Morton (Macedonia, Ohio/Nordonia). He missed the last four games of the season due to injury, but before that started in the first seven and had 60 tackles (42 solo, 18 assisted).
The Wildcat Warrior, introduced last year by head coach Randy Walker, is presented to that player who "displayed the work ethic and investment that is needed to achieve greatness as a football player." This year's winner was sophomore center Austin King (Cincinnati, Ohio/Purcell Marian). King anchored an offensive line that allowed the offense to shatter school records with 5,232 yards of total offense and 424 points.
The Northwestern Gridiron Network (NGN) Newcomer honors went to another lineman, Jeff Roehl (Orland Park, Ill./Carl Sandburg), on offense and sophomore cornerback Raheem Covington (Pine Hill, N.J./Overbrook) on defense. Roehl was a starter in all 11 games and earned championship performance awards from the coaches eight times this season, while Covington finished the season with 75 tackles (62 solo, 13 assisted), one interception and one fumble recovery.
Northwestern also honored its departing seniors at the banquet: Johnson, Morton, Harold Blackmon (Chicago, Ill./Leo), Javiar Collins (St. Paul, Minn./St. Thomas Academy), Conrad Emmerich (Foley, Minn./Foley), Jack Harnedy (Chicago, Ill./Mt. Carmel), Tim Long (Altoona, Pa./Altoona), Dwayne Missouri (San Antonio, Texas/Roosevelt) and Derrick Thompson (Harvey, Ill./Thornton Twp.).