2016 was a weird year for the Michigan State football program. Apparently, Mark Dantonio and his staff wanted to keep it that way when they chose to hand out end of year awards at a private team dinner Sunday night, rather than the normal, open to the media and the public, Awards Banquet.
It’s hard to blame them for not extending an open invite to the media and giving them a front row seat to the macabre display of handing out “awards” to a team that won three games, but at the same time, come on. If you’re going to charge $50 for people to attend a celebratory banquet one year, you should probably take it on the chin the next year when things go wrong.
Regardless of how you feel about the way they handled it, the show did go on. Full list of winners below, per MSUSpartans.com
Governor's Award (Most Valuable Player): WR R.J. Shelton
Downtown Coaches Club Award - Outstanding Senior Offense: WR R.J. Shelton
Downtown Coaches Club Award - Outstanding Senior Defense: LB Riley Bullough
Downtown Coaches Club Award - Outstanding Senior Special Teams: PK Michael Geiger
Biggie Munn Award (Most Inspirational): QB Tyler O'Connor (offense), LB Riley Bullough (defense)
MSU Football Players Association Community Service Award: TE Josiah Price
President's Award (Senior Lineman/Senior Back Perseverance): OL Kodi Kieler (offense), DE Evan Jones (defense)
Up Front Award (Outstanding Lineman): OG Brian Allen (offense), LB Chris Frey (defense)
Clarence Underwood Sportsmanship Award: OL Benny McGowan
Outstanding Underclass Lineman: OT Cole Chewins (offense), DT Mike Panasiuk (defense)
Outstanding Underclass Back: RB LJ Scott (offense), S Montae Nicholson (defense)
Jim Adams Award (Unsung Heroes): RB Prescott Line (offense), DT Kevin Williams (defense)
Tommy Love Award (Most Improved): RB Gerald Holmes (offense), DT Raequan Williams (defense)
Danziger Award (Outstanding Detroit Area Player): WR Donnie Corley
Iron Man Award (Strength and Conditioning): LB Riley Bullough
Potsy Ross Award (Scholar-Athlete): QB Tyler O'Connor, WR Edward Barksdale III
Doug Weaver Oil Can (Team Humorist): LB Riley Bullough
Captains Award: LB Riley Bullough, S Demetrious Cox, QB Tyler O'Connor
Among the highlights, Riley Bullough took home the most trophies (five) and RJ Shelton won Team MVP. Malik McDowell did not win any which, considering his talent level, was a mild surprise.
As the presser notes, Bullough and Shelton are part of the 2016 senior class that leaves East Lansing as the fourth-winningest in school history (39-14). Made all the more impressive considering they added only three to that total this season.
As always, it’s sad to see the graduating class go, especially when it’s one that accomplished so much, but now that the awards have been handed out, it’s time for those who remain to get to work and make sure 2017 is nothing like its predecessor.