Wednesday, January 02, 2008

End of Season Awards

Offensive MVP: Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada

I don't know if you can say enough good things about Kaipo and his continued development within the system. After an impressive ending to the 2006 season much was expected of the Hawaiian signal caller in 2007, and by all accounts he delivered. Statistically Kaipo shined, completing over 50% of his passes for 952 yards and eight touchdowns, while rushing for another 12 touchdowns and 834 yards. But it was what didn’t show up in the statistics which made all the difference. It was his decision making and knowledge of the system which allowed Navy’s offense to reach it’s highest output in year’s, while it was his leadership and energy which helped to keep the team together even in tough situations.

Honorable Mention: Reggie Campbell, Antron Harper, Eric Kettani

Defensive MVP: Irv Spencer

One can only wonder what Navy’s defense would look like in 2008 if Irv Spencer had another year. The senior from Oakwood Village, Ohio was a force in the middle for the Mids this past year, recording 95 tackles (team lead), 57 solo tackles (tied for team lead), 8.5 tfl (second on team), and a team high seven pass breakups. Simply put, Irv was a beast on an otherwise uninspiring defense for Navy this year, and brought a refreshing energy and enthusiasm to the defensive unit.

Honorable Mention: Matt Wimsatt, Michael Walsh, Chris Kuhar-Pitters

Defensive Breakthrough Player: Wyatt Middleton

In a season which saw the secondary undergo a complete transformation due to injury and inconsistency, the Navy defense did get a pleasant surprise with the emergence of freshmen free safety Wyatt Middleton this past season. Middleton, a plebe who attended NAPS last year, finished second on the team in total tackles with 88 and tied Irv Spencer for the lead in solo tackles with 57. While he did not record an interception on the season, he showed consistent improvement against both the run and the pass as the year progressed. I’ve heard a number of people say how Middleton seemed to be out of position for as many good plays he made. I don’t particularly buy that notion, and even if he was you have got to ask the question of “who wasn’t.” In a year which could probably best be described as a “learning experience” for the defense, Middleton was at the top of his class.

Honorable Mention: Ross Pospisil, Blake Carter, Ram Vela

Offensive Breakthrough Player: Eric Kettani

Coming into this season we all new Eric Kettani was good, but c’mon, who actually thought he’d lead the team in rushing? Eric had a monster year in 2007, rushing for 880 yards and 10 touchdowns on an outstanding 5.8 yards a carry. The fact that he virtually usurped Adam Ballard (who had been talked about as having pro potential in his own right) speaks for itself, as Eric brought explosiveness and shiftiness to the fullback position. He’s brought the physical tools of a pro-style running back to the Navy backfield, and has become one of the offense’s most dangerous players.

Honorable Mention: Zerbin Singleton, Anthony Gaskins, Paul Bridgers

Offensive Unsung Hero: OJ Washington

You may be asking why Antron Harper’s name isn’t here. It very well could be, but to me an ‘unsung hero’ is a guy who doesn’t get enough credit for the job he’s done, and if you ask me we’ve all been quick to identify Antron Harper as one of Navy’s best and most productive players. One player who often slips the spotlight however is OJ Washington, the senior receiver from Tacoma, Washington. Ok, so he dropped a few balls throughout the course of the year, but he’s been that solid blur on the outside of every play stalk blocking the wide receiver and allowing for those big holes we see the slotbacks running through. He’s greatly improved his route running over the past couple of years, and even gets into the action receiving (12 catches, 248 yards, 1TD.) He’s been a solid contributor on this team for the past three seasons, and despite returning a fairly veteran group of wideouts next year his services will be missed.

Honorable Mention: Josh Meek

Defensive Unsung Hero: Michael Walsh

The term high-motor is trite and cliché for undersized defensive lineman, and often used to denigrate a player's natural athletic ability and explain away his production by effort alone. My question is why we have to view such explanations as a bad thing. With 57 tackles (t0 TFL) and three sacks Walsh may be a walking cliché for Navy defensive lineman, but something tells me he wouldn’t have it any other way. He was Navy's best defensive lineman in 2007, and returns to lead what should be a much improved line in 2008.

Honerable Mention: Greg Thrasher

Special Teams Player of the Year: Zerb Singleton

I’ll be honest; it wasn’t a great year for the Navy special teams unit, but then again I may have just wanted an excuse to sneak Zerbin Singleton in here somewhere. I am of the firm belief that Zerbin cannot be praised enough for everything he has both overcome and accomplished on and off the field. He’s a bright spot in a sport which is constantly bombarded with cheating scandals, off the field suspensions, and over the top on-the-field antics. He’s a solid all around player in every aspect of the game; a disciplined tackler, determined runner, and heady receiver. He is, to borrow a phrase from the heading of this blog, one of those few players who makes this game “most nearly itself.” It’ll sure be weird not seeing #28 out there next year, but we all know that bigger and better things await him.

Honerable Mention: Reggie Campbell, Corey Johnson, Craig Schaefer

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Zerbin Singleton has to be the coolest person I've ever met. After the Army-Navy game I was riding Baltimore's god awful light rail to get back to my hotel, and who else should be waiting there but Zerbin and his family. He was very nice and his story is just utterly amazing. He's an amazing story.