Football Honors Award Winners At Annual End-Of-Year Banquet
Dec. 9, 2013
Tajae Sharpe was named the Offensive Most Valuable Player, Galen Clemons was named the Defensive Most Valuable Player and Khary Bailey-Smith was named the Special Teams Most Valuable Player as the UMass football team held its annual end-of-year team banquet on Sunday afternoon.
UMASS FOOTBALL 2013 TEAM AWARDS
Sharpe led the UMass offense with a career-best 61 catches for 680 yards and four touchdowns this past season. He ranked among the top-10 all season in the Mid-American Conference in terms of receptions per game and after the first four games of the year had already surpassed his true freshman numbers from 2012.
While not one of the top statistical leaders of the defense, Clemons was an anchor on the defensive line in 2013. The senior started 11 games played this year with 30 tackles. Off the field, Clemons was also instrumental in community service as he led the Minutemen through the White Ribbon Campaign Pledge to end violence against women.
A mainstay in the defensive secondary, Bailey-Smith was also a pivotal player on the special teams units. His highlight of the year was a 90-yard kick-off return for a touchdown to open the Western Michigan game - his first career kick-off return.
Considered one of UMass' top NFL draft prospects, the program honored offensive left tackle Anthony Dima for being named to the All Mid-American Third Team at the end of the regular season. Dima helped solidify UMass pass protection which allowed just 16 sacks in 2013 compared to 32 in 2012. The Minutemen also improved their run game behind the veteran offensive line gaining 1,500 yards on the ground compared to 1,075 in 2012.
Along with Dima, David Osei was honored as the Bob Foote Offensive Lineman of the Year. A transfer from Rutgers, Osei's veteran presence also helped the Minutemen's offensive line be consistent throughout the year.
Devin Brown was honored with the team's Vic Fusia Academic Achievement Award. The senior safety ranked second on the team in tackles (99) and was named to the Capital One Academic All-District I team. He was also honored this past week with the Gridiron Club of Greater Boston's 68th Annual Nils V. "Swede" Nelson Award which is given annually to those who demonstrate outstanding achievement in academics, athletics, sportsmanship and citizenship.
Defensive tackle Kevin Byrne was awarded the Coaches Award after one of his best seasons despite missing two games. Byrne had 38 total tackles, a sack, and interception and two forced fumbles in a season where he played both defensive end and defensive tackle.
The Marcel Shipp Iron Man Award was given to senior defensive end Brandon Potvin who proved a leader on the field and in the weight room. Potvin started seven of 11 games played finishing the year with 21 tackles including two sacks and three tackles for loss.
The James Ihedigbo Walk-On of the Year Award was given to freshman running back Shadrach Abrokwah who turned strong performances in the final two games of the season. One of the top scout team players during the season, Abrokwah stepped up for the Minutemen after Lorenzo Woodley and Jamal Wilson were both limited due to injuries in the Central Michigan and Ohio games. Abrokwah ran for 93 yards in his first career game at Central Michigan before posting his first career 100-yard game with 110 yards rushing and a touchdown at Ohio in the season finale.
Despite missing half the season due to injury, Rob Blanchflower still maintained a veteran leadership role with the team during the course of the season as captain and was awarded the Vern Smith Leadership Award. A member of the Mackey Award Watch List and another of UMass' highly rated NFL draft prospects, Blanchflower ranked second on the team in receiving yards, catches and touchdowns. He broke Hall of Famer Milt Morin's UMass record for receiving yards by a tight end in the game against Akron and finished his career ranked 15th all-time at UMass with 1,164 yards. He also ranks 8th all-time in career receptions with 109.
Finally, the team presented Game Balls to program administrator Dan Markowski, Bailey-Smith and Rob Blanchflower. Markowski and Baily-Smith were honored with game balls following the win over Miami (Ohio), while Blanchflower was given a game ball to commemorate breaking the UMass record for career receiving yards by a tight end during the Akron game.
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