The Daily Iowan's End of the Year Football Awards

BY BEN ROSS | DECEMBER 20, 2013 5:00 AM

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The end of the regular football season is here, and Iowa fans are aflutter with joy as the team prepares to take on LSU in the Outback Bowl after the squad missed a postseason game following a 4-8 campaign in 2012. To tide spirits over until Jan. 1, The Daily Iowan assembled some end-of-year awards for players, voted on by the fans and DI staffers. As of Wednesday evening, the poll had nearly 2,000 votes.

Offensive Player Of The Year

Fan Vote: LT Brandon Scherff (44 percent of votes)

DI Vote: Brandon Scherff

This one was pretty easy. Too many running backs got carries for one to set himself apart, and no receiver appeared dominant. Tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz was a beast in the red zone, but that’s about it. Quarterback Jake Rudock isn’t a bad pick here, but you take Scherff away, and then the running backs don’t get as good of production, Rudock doesn’t get his protection, and everything falls apart at the seams. Kirk Ferentz has gotta be happy Scherff decided to stick around for his senior year.

Defensive Player Of The Year

Fans: MLB James Morris. (48 percent)

DI: TIE; James Morris and OLB Christian Kirksey

Morris unquestionably is the heart and soul of this defense. He led the team in interceptions and tackles for loss and anchored a unit that gave up only 5 rushing touchdowns on the season.

However, Kirksey’s play has been indispensable on the outside as well. Kirksey could likely play all three linebacker positions, but we think that because Morris is a homegrown Iowa boy could be a reason his praises have been shouted from the rooftop so loudly this season.

Most Improved

Fans: DT Carl Davis. (44 percent)

DI: P. Connor Kornbrath

Davis earned by far the most votes for this category. It’s true, the junior defensive lineman did take his game on the interior to a whole different level this season, but after appearing in just six contests and recording 2 tackles in all of 2012, there was really nowhere to go but up for Davis. Remember how many punts Kornbrath shanked last year? The sophomore punter turned from a liability to major asset this season, pinning opponents deep. Kornbrath averaged around 4 more yards per punt this season, and his total punt yardage per game was 30 yards more this year than last.

Special Teams Player Of The Year

Fans: K. Mike Meyer (39 percent)

DI: P. Connor Kornbrath

Meyer is an easy choice, because his contributions to special teams are the most noticeable, but the senior had some dips in his numbers this year, and he wasn’t the Lou Groza finalist everyone expected.

Kornbrath bailed Iowa out of numerous sticky situations with his leg. With Jordan Cotton being almost nonexistent on kick returns, and Kevonte Martin-Manley putting up meager numbers on punt-return duty aside from the Western Michigan game, Kornbrath gets our vote.

Newcomer Of The Year

Fans: QB Jake Rudock (58 percent)

DI: TIE, Jake Rudock and CB Desmond King

It’s funny, Rudock had the largest margin of victory for this poll, but it’s arguably the closest race. Rudock was the great unknown going into this season and played beyond expectations. His play kept Iowa close in just about every game and was largely mistake-free save for a few late interceptions.

But that’s expected of a first-year quarterback who had never taken a snap prior to this season.

True freshman Desmond King replaced an injured Jordan Lomax in the season-opener, and the spot was his to lose from there on out. King manned up on some of the best receivers in the Big Ten and proved to be perhaps the best tackler in Iowa’s defensive backfield.

Team MVP, 2013

Fans: James Morris (28 percent)

DI: Jake Rudock

Hear us out: the true definition of an MVP is one whose play the team cannot live without. While Morris was absolutely fantastic on the field this year, fellow linebackers Anthony Hitchens and Christian Kirksey likely would have put up similar numbers at the Mike ’backer position.

Rudock, on the other hand, surpassed James Vandenberg’s touchdown passes from all of 2012 in half the number of games this year. The sophomore quarterback showed he could make just about any toss asked of him, and he can make plays with his feet, too. He missed considerable game time with injuries against Wisconsin and Nebraska this year. C.J. Beathard went in to replace Rudock, and it just wasn’t the same.

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