Joe Christensen covered Major League Baseball for 15 years, including three seasons at the Baltimore Sun and eight at the Star Tribune, before switching to the college football beat. He’s a Faribault, Minn., native who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1996. He covered Jim Wacker’s Gophers for the Minnesota Daily and also wrote about USC, UCLA and the Rose Bowl for the Riverside Press-Enterprise before getting this chance to cover football again.
Email Joe to talk about the Gophers.
MarQueis Gray is the Gophers' most valuable player for the second straight year, the team announced Sunday after its annual awards banquet Sunday afternoon.
Gray, who opened the season as the starting quarterback but moved to receiver after suffering knee and ankle injuries in the season's third game, was also named the winner of the Paul Giel award as the most unselfish player and most concerned about Minnesota.
Gray joins Laurence Maroney in 2004-05 and eight other Gophers as back-to-back winners of the award. The last quarterback honored in two straight seasons was Rickey Foggie, who won it in 1984-85 and also 1987.
Coach Jerry Kill, who suffered a seizure during halftime of Saturday's 26-10 loss to Michigan State, did not attend the banquet at the Hilton Hotel in downtown Minneapolis.
Tailback Donnell Kirkwood, who finished the regular season with 849 rushing yards, was chosen the team's outstanding offensive player, and defensive back Michael Carter was named the outstanding defensive player -- an award won by his cousin, cornerback Tyrone Carter, in 1998 and 1999. Punter Christian Eldred was named the outstanding special-teams player.
The inaugural Gary Tinsley Award, named for the former Gophers linebacker who died in April, went to his former roommate, linebacker Keanon Cooper. The award will be given annually to the player "who best embraced Tinsley's underdog personna," the university said.
The award for best competitor on the field and in the classroom went to linebacker Aaron Hill for the second straight year. Receiver Connor Cosgrove, who has become active in cancer fundraising since being diagnosed with leukemia two years ago, received the team's community service award, while senior linebacker Mike Rallis was honored with the Neil Fredenburg Award for "the most courage and love of the game."
Quarterback Philip Nelson and tailback Rodrick Williams shared the award for best freshman on offense, while defensive tackle Scott Epke was the top freshman on defense.
Also honored at the season-ending banquet:
Offensive Lineman of the Year – Zac Epping
Offensive Back of the Year – Donnell Kirkwood
Wide Receiver of the Year – Isaac Fruechte
Defensive Lineman of the Year – D.L. Wilhite
Linebacker of the Year – Mike Rallis
Defensive Back of the Year – Michael Carter
Offensive Work Team Player of the Year – Cole Banham and Mitch Leidner
Defensive Work Team Player of the Year – Matt Garin and Jack Lynn
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