Eleven Gophers Honored By Big Ten
Eleven Golden Gophers were honored among Big Ten Conference award winners announced Monday. Minnesota had five All-Big Ten First Team selections, including two position-specific players of the year. The five first-team honorees are the most for Minnesota since also having five in 2004.
Maxx Williams was named the Kwalick-Clark Tight End of the Year. The redshirt sophomore earned All-Big Ten First Team recognition from both conference media and coaches, the first Minnesota tight end to earn the honor since Matt Spaeth in 2006. Williams, a John Mackey Award finalist, had 29 receptions for 471 yards (29.2 percent of team receiving yards) and seven touchdowns (63.6 percent of team receiving touchdowns) during the regular season. He led all Big Ten tight ends in touchdowns and receiving yards. Williams is also a valuable blocker for the Gopher offense.
Peter Mortell, a redshirt junior, was named the Eddleman-Fields Punter of the Year and earned first-team nods from coaches and media. He is the first Minnesota punter to make the All-Big Ten First Team, and the first Gopher specialist to do so since kicker Chip Lohmiller in 1986. Mortell’s 45.5-yard punting average led the conference and ranks second in Minnesota history.
Briean Boddy-Calhoun, Zac Epping and Damien Wilson were all named to the media’s All-Big Ten First Team and the coaches’ All-Big Ten Second Team. Boddy-Calhoun led Minnesota with four interceptions and eight pass breakups. The redshirt junior made 47 tackles and forced and recovered one fumble.
Epping is Minnesota’s first offensive lineman chosen for the All-Big Ten First Team since Greg Eslinger and Mark Setterstrom in 2005. Epping, a fifth-year senior, has started 46 straight games. The left guard has helped pave the way for an offense that rushed for 2,695 yards and scored 42 total touchdowns (including 31 rushing).
Wilson led the Gophers with 111 tackles, tying him for third in the Big Ten. The senior linebacker recorded a team-high 10.5 tackles-for-loss, including four sacks. He is the first Minnesota linebacker on the All-Big Ten First Team since Bruce Holmes (coaches) in 1986.
David Cobb received a second-team nod from media and coaches, while Eric Murray made the coaches’ second team. Cobb set Minnesota’s single-season rushing record has 1,548 yards (third in the Big Ten) through 12 games of his senior season. He had 13 touchdowns to lead the Gophers, and seven 100-yard games this year.
Murray, a junior cornerback, made 62 tackles (fourth on the team) this year. He broke up seven passes and intercepted one.
Cameron Botticelli, Josh Campion, Theiren Cockran and Tommy Olson were on both voting groups’ honorable mention lists.
The Gophers finished 8-4 for the second year in a row, qualifying for their third consecutive bowl game. Their bowl date, location and opponent will be announced Sunday, Dec. 7.
Minnesota’s Big Ten Honorees
Kwalick-Clark Tight End of the Year
Eddleman-Fields Punter of the Year
All-Big Ten First Team
Briean Boddy-Calhoun, CB (media)
Zac Epping, OL (media)
Peter Mortell, P (media and coaches)
Maxx Williams, TE (media and coaches)
Damien Wilson, LB (media)
All-Big Ten Second Team
Briean Boddy-Calhoun, CB (coaches)
David Cobb, RB (media and coaches)
Zac Epping, OL (coaches)
Eric Murray, CB (coaches)
Damien Wilson, LB (coaches)
All-Big Ten Honorable Mention
Cameron Botticelli, DL (media and coaches)
Josh Campion, OL (media and coaches)
Theiren Cockran, DL (media and coaches)
Eric Murray, CB (media)
Tommy Olson, C (media and coaches)