Four Husker football players have been honored by the Nebraska coaching staff and their teammates as winners of 2005 spring awards. The awards include the Nebraska Lifter of the Year, the Finisher Award and most improved players on offense and defense.
Senior offensive tackle Seppo Evwaraye was named the winner of the 2005 Nebraska Lifter-of-the-Year Award. The Lifter of the Year is presented to the player who made the most improvement on the field as a result of hard work and dedication in all aspects of Nebraska's strength and conditioning program. Evwaraye was chosen by a vote of his teammates.
The 6-5, 330-pound Evwaraye emerged as a leader on the offensive line this spring after moving from right tackle to left tackle before the start of spring drills. One of three returning starters on the offensive line, Evwaraye started all 11 games at right tackle during his junior season after moving from the defensive line during winter conditioning in 2004.
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Evwaraye posted impressive numbers in the weight room during the 2005 winter conditioning period. He had a squat of more than 655 pounds and a top bench press of 430 pounds, while consistently being timed in the 4.9 range in the 40-yard dash during winter conditioning. Evwaraye is just the second offensive lineman to be named Lifter of the Year since 1988. This marks the second straight year Evwaraye has received a spring award. A year ago, he was named the Most Improved Offensive Player following spring practice.
Head Strength Coach Dave Kennedy said Evwaraye's continued development as an offensive lineman has been fueled by his tremendous work ethic during Nebraska's off-season program.
"Seppo has worked extremely hard to become the player he is and I am excited to see the results this fall," Kennedy said. "The two things about Seppo that stand out are that he knows his weaknesses and he attacks them, and he holds others to his high standards."
The Finisher Award is chosen by members of the coaching staff and was presented to Husker defensive lineman Ola Dagunduro. A mid-year transfer from Compton Community College, Dagunduro quickly impressed Husker coaches with his work ethic and ability to make plays. He capped his spring season with a sack and a fumble caused in the Red-White Game.
The Finisher Award is given to the player who "exemplifies the best effort, work ethic and displays the ability to finish every play."
The most improved players on offense and defense were also chosen by the Husker coaches. Tight end J.B. Phillips was picked as the Most Improved Offensive Player. A 6-3, 260-pound sophomore, Phillips had an expanded role this spring while fellow tight end Matt Herian was sidelined by injury. He was Nebraska's No. 3 tight end as a redshirt freshman in 2004.
On defense, senior defensive back Blake Tiedtke earned the Most Improved honor. Tiedtke played sparingly in 2004, appearing in just two games. This spring the 5-10, 190-pound Tiedtke showed the ability to contribute at both cornerback and free safety.
"In addition to Seppo's recognition as Lifter of the Year we were proud to honor three players who made great strides this spring," Nebraska Head Coach Bill Callahan said. "Ola Dagunduro came in and immediately showed the type of play-making ability at the point of attack we thought he could have. J.B. Phillips' progress this spring was key to solidifying the tight end position with Matt Herian out and Blake Tiedtke brings excellent versatility to our secondary."
Football team captures Team Life Skills Award
The football team was awarded the second annual Team Life Skills Award Sunday night at the annual Student-Athlete Academic Recognition banquet at the Bob Devaney Sports Center.
The award honors the team that demonstrated the strongest commitment to all phases of the life skills program over the past year, including outreach, education and leadership. The football team earned the award with well over 6,000 points, outdistancing the inaugural winner, the women's basketball team.
In the past year, Coach Callahan's players have made hundreds of community outreach visits. Before Thanksgiving, the entire team split up and visited four hospitals in the Lincoln area and before the start of spring practice, the Huskers visited the Children's Hospital and Veteran's Administration Hospital in Omaha. The football team also heard from several speakers during last year's fall camp, who spoke on various parts of character education and Life Skills.
Nebraska's Life Skills program is considered a model in collegiate athletics. The program is headed by Nebraska Assistant Athletic Director for Student Life Keith Zimmer.
Bullocks Named to Lott Trophy Watch List
Nebraska senior strong safety Daniel Bullocks is one of 42 top defensive players in the nation who have been named to the watch list for the 2005 Lott Trophy.
The 6-2, 210-pound Bullocks is entering his third season as a starter in the Husker secondary.
Last fall, Bullocks ranked among the Big 12 leaders with five interceptions and returned those picks for 187 yards.
Bullocks totaled 58 tackles in 2004 and was a second-team All-Big 12 selection. A year ago Daniel's twin brother, Josh, was among the candidates for the Lott Trophy.
Named after NFL Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott, the Trophy goes to the college defensive player who has the biggest impact both on and off the field.
Georgia defensive end David Pollack won the inaugural award in 2004. Bullocks is one of five Big 12 players on the 2005 Lott Trophy Watch List.
Souder and Lucky honored
Two members of Nebraska's top-ranked 2005 recruiting class have been honored as 2004 Old Spice Red Zone Players of the Year.
Running back Marlon Lucky and defensive back Jeff Souder were two of 50 players nationally to receive the recognition. The Old Spice Red Zone Player of the Year Award is focused on recognizing high school players who elevate their play and that of their teammates specifically in the Red Zone. The award also recognizes performance excellence, leadership, determination, tenacity and courage.
Souder was a standout two-way performer for Bellevue West High School. As a senior, Souder registered 129 tackles from his safety position and also starred as a running back. He rushed for 1,319 yards and 21 touchdowns from his I-back position.
Lucky is regarded as one of the top running back prospects in the nation in 2005. As a senior, Lucky rushed for 2,036 yards and 40 touchdowns for North Hollywood (Calif.) High School, capping a prep career in which he rushed for 4,881 yards and 81 touchdowns in three seasons.