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THE AWARD SHOW
Just because everything else has been unpredictable this season doesn't mean we should be, too. So, as always at this time of year, we herewith confer darts and laurels on players, coaches and teams.
?Offensive Player of the Year: Florida State quarterback Charlie Ward. Alabama's David Palmer did it all—run, catch, pass and return kicks—and Fresno State quarterback Trent Dilfer threw better than anyone, but Ward was special. Over the past two seasons he has made his coaches restructure what was already the best offense in the game to take advantage of his talents.
?Defensive Player of the Year: Texas A&M end Sam Adams. The son of former New England Patriot guard Sam Adams, Adams led the Aggies in tackles (79), sacks (10�), tackles for loss (14) and fumbles caused (five) and was the main reason they were second in Division I-A in scoring defense (10.8 points per game) and third in total defense (247.6 yards per game). Honorable mention goes to Nebraska linebacker Trev Alberts, Alabama cornerback Antonio Langham and Arizona noseguard Rob Waldrop.
?Special Teams Player of the Year: North Carolina safety Bracey Walker, who blocked four punts this season, giving him eight for his career (including two in the 1992 Peach Bowl). Tar Heel coaches won't let him try to block punts in practice because they're afraid he'll hurt somebody.
?Special Teams Teammates of the Year: Texas A&M's Aaron Glenn and Leeland McElroy, who became the first members of the same team to lead Division I-A in punt returns and kickoff returns. Glenn averaged 19.94 yards per punt return, McElroy 39.33 per kickoff return.
?Freshman of the Year: Rutgers running back Terrell Willis, who rushed for 1,261 yards and 13 touchdowns on 195 carries. His stats are even more impressive considering that opposing defenses could focus on him since the Scarlet Knights had virtually no air attack.
?Coach of the Year: Auburn's Terry Bowden. In his first season in Division I-A, Bowden inherited a team that went 5-5-1 the year before and was beginning the first year of a two-year NCAA probation. Runners-up: Eastern Michigan's Ron Cooper and Oregon State's Jerry Pettibone, both of whom took teams with limited resources to the relatively remarkable record of 4-7.
? Division I-AA Player of the Year: Howard quarterback Jay Walker, who completed 223 of 406 passes and threw for 3,349 yards and 24 touchdowns as the Bison finished the regular season 11-0. Howard lost to Marshall last Saturday in the playoffs, but not before the Bison got residents of Washington, D.C., to begin talking about a college football team for a change.
?Division II Player of the Year: C.W. Post quarterback Perry Klein. Division II rivals were no match for Klein, who transferred from Cal. He threw for 38 touchdowns and a Division II record 3,757 yards as the Pioneers finished the regular season 9-1.