Nov. 27, 2012
Park Ridge, Ill. – The Big Ten Conference announced on Tuesday the winners of the top five individual awards for the 2012 football season. Ohio State’s Braxton Miller was named the Graham-George Offensive Player of the Year, Ohio State’s John Simon was tabbed the Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year, Penn State’s Deion Barnes was recognized as the Thompson-Randle El Freshman of the Year, and the Nittany Lions’ Bill O’Brien was named the Hayes-Schembechler and Dave McClain Coach of the Year. The honors are part of the Big Ten’s enhanced football awards program which debuted last season.
Miller becomes the fifth Buckeye to earn the Big Ten’s top offensive honor, joining Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith (2006), Joe Germaine (1998), Orlando Pace (1996) and Heisman winner and trophy namesake Eddie George (1995). The Griese-Brees Quarterback of the Year, Miller rushed for 1,271 yards this season, which ranks second in the Big Ten records book for single-season rushing yards by a quarterback. Miller averaged over 275 yards of total offense per game this year, led Ohio State to a perfect 12-0 record and the outright Leaders Division title, and was named a finalist for the Davey O’Brien Award, which recognizes the nation’s top quarterback.
Voted first-team All-Big Ten by the Big Ten’s coaches and a select media panel, Simon is the eighth Buckeye to receive the conference’s top defensive award, following James Laurinaitis (2007-08), A.J. Hawk (2005), Will Smith (2003), Michael Doss (2002), Shawn Springs (1996), Dan Wilkinson (1993) and Steve Tovar (1992). He was also named the Big Ten’s Smith-Brown Defensive Lineman of the Year and ranks among the NCAA’s best in sacks (0.82) and tackles for loss (1.32) per game.
An honorable mention All-Big Ten selection, Barnes is the second Nittany Lion to be named Big Ten Freshman of the Year and the first since Curtis Enis in 1995. The defensive end ranks among the conference’s leaders in tackles for loss, sacks and forced fumbles. He was named the Big Ten’s Freshman of the Week after recording five tackles and forcing a fumble as Penn State held Navy to just seven points on Sept. 15.
O’Brien is the second Penn State head coach to the Big Ten’s Coach of the Year. In his first year with Penn State, O’Brien led the Nittany Lions to an 8-4 overall mark, including a 6-2 record in conference play. O’Brien coached six players to first-team All-Big Ten status, including Allen Robinson, the Richter-Howard Receiver of the Year, and Michael Mauti, the Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year.
For more information on the Big Ten’s enhanced football awards program, and to read more about the trophy namesakes, visit bigten.org.