STORRS, Conn. – The UConn football team held its annual awards ceremony on Sunday evening at The Burton Family Football Complex, where Interim Head Coach T.J. Weist doled out the 2013 honors to 11 Huskies, including nine senior student-athletes.
Defensive Tackle Shamar Stephen (Brookville, N.Y.) was honored as the 2013 Team MVP. Stephen was an integral part of the interior defensive line, starting all 12 games and compiling 60 tackles, including 10 for loss and three sacks. The redshirt-senior finished third on UConn in total tackles while leading the squad in tackles for loss and finishing second in sacks. He concludes his career in Storrs with 130 tackles and 17.0 TFL in 46 games, playing in at least 10 contests during all four years he saw time.
Wide receiver Geremy Davis (Lawrenceville, Ga.) was one of two redshirt-juniors honored, earning Offensive Player of the Year after posting one of the most prolific seasons for a receiver in UConn history. Davis finished 2013 with 71 receptions (fifth-most in a single season), 1,085 yards (sixth-most) and three touchdowns, including a record-setting day in the season finale. Against Memphis on Dec. 6, Davis had a program-record 15 receptions for 207 yards, the fifth-highest single-game total in UConn history.
The other redshirt-junior to take home an award was linebacker Yawin Smallwood (Worcester, Mass.), who was named Defensive Player of the Year. Smallwood led UConn with 118 tackles this year, adding 9.5 TFL and a team-high four sacks. He was a Butkus Award semifinalist and is currently 22nd in the nation with 9.8 tackles per game.
Redshirt-senior punter Cole Wagner (York, Pa.) earned Special Teams Player of the Year after averaging 39.8 yards per punt and pinning 19 of his 71 punts inside the 20. Wagner leaves Storrs as the program’s all-time leader in punts (308) and net yards (12,539) and his 40.7 career average is good for second all-time.
Kicker Chad Christen (Etters, Pa.) was named the winner of the John L. Toner Scholar Athlete Award. The award is named in honor of the former NCAA President, UConn athletic director and head football coach. The redshirt-senior was 10-for-16 on field goals and a perfect 27-for-27 on extra points for UConn this season. He finished his career 24-for-37 kicking field goals and a perfect 51-for-51 on XPs.
The Jasper T. Howard “Play-Every-Play” Award, presented to a strong team player who best exemplifies a “battle-to-the-end” spirit during every game through every play, went to redshirt-senior guard Steve Greene (Ebensburg, Pa.). Greene started all 12 games at left guard for UConn for the second consecutive season, finishing his career with 32 starts.
Redshirt-senior defensive end Jesse Joseph (Laval, Quebec) won The Brian Kozlowski Award for the most courageous, hardworking and productive player. After taking a medical redshirt last season and a fifth year of eligibility in 2013, Joseph responded with a career-high 40 tackles, adding six tackles for loss and a sack. During his career, which dates back to starting 13 games as a true freshman 2009, Joseph appeared in 49 contests, including 43 starts, and totaled 158 tackles, 27.0 TFL and 14 sacks.
The Kendall Madison Award, given to a strong player whose dedication, hard work and outstanding citizenship best exemplify the strong spirit of the UConn Huskies, was awarded to redshirt-senior defensive end Tim Willman (Fulton, Md.). Willman made eight starts in 2013 after making just one in his first three years on the squad and finished the year with 36 tackles, eight tackles for loss and three sacks.
Redshirt-senior running back Martin Hyppolite (Wakefield, Mass.) earned the Football Alumni Award, presented to a player who has demonstrated leadership, dedication, and is recognized by the coaches and his teammates as the ultimate team player. Hyppolite was part of UConn’s tailback rotation this year and posted career-highs in carries (33) yards (160) and yards per attempt (4.8), adding a touchdown on his Senior Day against Memphis. He was also a key member of UConn’s special teams units, tallying nine tackles on kick coverage teams in 2013.
The Joseph M. Giannelli Unsung Hero Award was split between redshirt-senior tackle Kevin Friend (Warrentown, Va.) and senior cornerback Taylor Mack (Powder Springs, Ga.). Friend battled through injuries in 2013 but still made five starts at right tackle, giving him 30 career starts at multiple spots along the offensive line. Mack became a fixture in the defensive backfield for UConn in 2013, starting seven games at cornerback and tying the team-highs with three interceptions and nine pass breakups to go along with 39 tackles. In his career, Mack played in 42 games and made 83 tackles, also compiling a 16.6 KOR average and 9.2 punt return mark.
photo credit: ian bethune – sox & dawgs