2009 Football Banquet
Dec. 12, 2009
The Fighting Illini football team, families and friends gathered to honor 17 seniors and the season's award winners at the 108th annual football banquet, Saturday night at Memorial Stadium.
The following are the Illini award winners from the 2009 Illinois Football Banquet:
Most Valuable Player: Jon Asamoah, offensive guard
Asamoah is the first offensive lineman to win the school's Most Valuable Player award since offensive tackle Jerry Finis in 1976. He started 37 career games at Illinois and led an offense that ranked in the top-20 in rushing in three of his years as a starter. In 2007, the Illini led the Big Ten in rushing, in 2008 it was the leader in passing and finished second in 2009 in the rushing category. He was an Academic All-District honoree, a National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete and a four-time Academic All-Big Ten selection.
Inaugural Red Grange Award: Juice Williams, quarterback
The Red Grange Award may not be given each year and will be awarded based on merit. The award was created to honor Juice Williams for his special dedication to the University. He came to Illinois as the prized recruit in 2006 and after verbally committing to the program began recruiting his fellow classmates. He started as a true-freshman and became the school's all-time starter at the position with 44. He also broke the school record for career total offense and became just the sixth player in the Big Ten history to total over 10,000 yards. He will finish his career ranked first in total offense, second in passing touchdowns and third in passing yards.
Most Improved Player: Chris Duvalt, wide receiver; Garrett Edwards, safety
In his second year at receiver, Duvalt more than doubled his receiving output from a year ago. He caught 23 receptions for 361 yards and scored three touchdowns. For his career, he averaged 15 yards a catch. Edwards started all 11 games he played this season, also his first in the starting lineup. He finished second on the team with 79 tackles, which ranked 12th in the Big Ten. He had four pass break ups on the year and recorded an interception in the season finale.
Rookie of the Year: Terry Hawthorne, defensive back & Jack Ramsey, wide receiver
Hawthorne and Ramsey share the award this season. Hawthorne became a regular starter for the last five games of the season and immediately was an impact player at cornerback. During that five-game stretch he had 22 tackles, five passes broken up and a 44-yard interception return for a touchdown. He also made the famous touchdown-saving tackle at the one yardline against Michigan. Ramsey started three games at receiver and caught 16 passes for 182 yards. He also served as a punt returner.
Outstanding Offensive Back: Juice Williams, quarterback
Outstanding Offensive Lineman: Jon Asamoah, offensive guard
Outstanding Defensive Lineman: Doug Pilcher, defensive end
Outstanding Linebacker: Ian Thomas
Outstanding Defensive Back: Tavon Wilson, cornerback
Outstanding Special Teams Award: Nate Bussey, defensive back
I BELIEVE Key Contributors Award: Eric Block, offensive line; Daniel Dufrene, running back; Michael Hoomanawanui, ; Dere Hicks, defensive back
Wright Commitment to Excellence Award: Jeff Cumberland, wide receiver/tight end
Cumberland came to Illinois without the necessary academic background, but not only became a valuable member of the team as a receiver, but will be the first in his family to graduate from college when he receives his degree in May. The Wright Commitment to Excellence Award is presented to the individual who has dedicated themselves to academic excellence despite obstacles faced during his collegiate career.
Bruce Capel Award: Sirod Williams, defensive tackle; Donsay Hardeman, defensive back
Williams and Hardeman both overcame great obstacles complete their college careers. Williams was on pace to finish his senior year in 2008 until an ACL tear sidelined him for the season. He came back to complete his senior year in 2009 as a starter at defensive tackle. Hardeman suffered a scary injury as a junior fracturing his neck with the possibility of never playing again, but the love of the game of football brought him back. He reinjured his neck in 2009, but remained a leader on the team while not being able to do son on the field. The Bruce Capel Award is given to the Illini player who displays the most courage, dedication and accomplishment throughout the season.
Scholar-Athlete Award: Zach Becker, tight end (3.93 GPA in kinesiology)