Iowa Football Awards Announced

Dec. 15, 2012

IOWA CITY, Iowa — University of Iowa senior center James Ferentz earned top honors when the 2012 Hawkeye football team held its annual awards banquet Saturday in Iowa City. Ferentz shared the 2012 Roy J. Carver Most Valuable Player Award, was one of five players named permanent team captain, was the recipient of the “Iron Hawk Award,” and shared the Hayden Fry “Extra Heartbeat” Award, and the Players Choice Award.

Ferentz and senior defensive back Micah Hyde shared the Roy J. Carver MVP award. Ferentz (6-foot-2, 284 pounds) is an Iowa City native who started all 38 games over the past three seasons. He earned second-team All-Big Ten honors from the league coaches in 2012.

Joining Ferentz as permanent team captains are quarterback James Vandenberg, linebackers James Morris and Christian Kirksey, and kicker Mike Meyer. Vandenberg is also a senior, while Morris, Kirksey and Meyer are juniors.

Ferentz and Morris shared both the Extra Heartbeat Award and the Players Choice Award. The Extra Heartbeat Award goes to team members who have shown outstanding leadership and dedication throughout the year, along with demonstrating exemplary leadership. The Players Choice Award is voted on by all team members and based on consistent effort, preparation, and attention to detail, sacrifice and readiness.

Hyde (6-1, 190), from Fostoria, Ohio, shared the team MVP award after earlier being named the recipient of the Big Ten’s Tatum-Woodson Defensive Back of the Year Award. Hyde was first-team All-Big Ten by both league coaches and media.

Morris (6-2, 230), a Solon native, ranked second on the team in tackles and earned honorable mention All-Big Ten. He has started 29 games in his three years while ranking fourth in tackles as a true freshman and sharing the team lead in 2011.

Vandenberg (6-3, 212) started 12 games in 2012 and all 25 games over the past two seasons. The Keokuk, Iowa, native ranks among Iowa’s top-seven quarterbacks in career completions, attempts, passing yards, passing touchdowns and total offense.

Kirksey (6-2, 220) is from St. Louis, Mo. He shared the team lead in tackles in 2011 and ranked third this season. Kirksey had two interceptions in 2012 and returned both for touchdowns. He ranked among national leaders with four fumble recoveries.

Meyer (6-2, 185) led the Hawkeyes in scoring with 76 points while handling all placements throughout the season. The native of Dubuque, Iowa, made all 25 PAT attempts and 17-of-21 field goal attempts. His school-record consecutive PAT streak currently stands at 81.

Senior offensive lineman Matt Tobin was recognized with the 2012 Brett Greenwood Award, which is awarded to a walk-on student-athlete who embodies the values and behaviors of former Hawkeye walk-on Brett Greenwood. Greenwood is a former Hawkeye defensive back from Bettendorf, Iowa, who completed his playing career in 2010. Tobin (6-6, 290) hails from Worthington, Iowa. He started all 12 games this season, playing both guard and tackle, and started the final 22 games of his career over the past two seasons.

Established in 2011, the Greenwood Award also honors a former Hawkeye who fits the description, one year at a time, for each season Kirk Ferentz has coached the Hawkeyes. That recipient this year is 2000 senior wide receiver Kevin Kasper, who ranks third in career pass receptions and sixth in receiving yards (157-1,974).

Three players were recognized with the Next Man in Award: sophomore running back Mark Weisman on offense, senior cornerback Greg Castillo on defense, and Kirksey on special teams. Weisman (6-0, 225) is from Buffalo Grove, Ill., and joined the program as a walk-on a year ago. He led the team in rushing (159-815) and touchdowns (eight) in 2012 while starting six games.

Castillo (5-11, 187) played in 11 games, with three starts. The native of Mount Laurel, N.J., shared the team lead with two interceptions. His interception of a tipped pass in double overtime at Michigan State secured Iowa’s win over the Spartans. In addition to starting all 12 games at linebacker, Kirksey played a key role on Iowa’s special teams.

Meyer, as the specialist, and junior wide receiver Jordan Cotton, for overall play, shared the Reggie Roby Special Team Awards. Meyer was one of 20 semifinal candidates for the Lou Groza Award, which goes to the top kicker in the nation. Meyer ranks fifth in UI career scoring.

Cotton (6-1, 180) is a native of Mount Pleasant, Iowa. He led the team in kickoff returns (28.2 yards per attempt), including a 92-yard touchdown against Penn State. Cotton led the Big Ten and ranked 14th in the nation in kickoff returns. He also recorded six tackles while playing on Iowa’s punt coverage team.

Senior defensive lineman Steve Bigach was recognized with the Forest Evashevski Scholastic Achievement Award, which is presented to a senior student-athlete who has the highest scholastic record. Bigach (6-3, 282) is a native of Cleveland, Ohio. He was named to the Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-District VI team for the second straight year. Bigach earned Academic All-Big Ten honors for the third straight year. He started all 12 games in the defensive line, recording 38 total tackles and two forced fumbles.

Team Leader Awards were given to six players. On offense the awards went to freshman quarterback C.J. Beathard, sophomore lineman Eric Simmons, and senior lineman Casey McMillan. Sophomore lineman Wil Rathjen earned the award on defense, while freshmen tight ends Steve Ferentz and George Krieger Kittle were recognized for special teams play.

The Player Appreciation Award was presented to Ernie and Joanne Buresh of Cedar Rapids. Ernie and Joanne are longtime UI contributors who have been football season ticket holders for over 40 years. Ernie has served on the UI Foundation Board of Directors since 1972. The third level of the Paul Brechler Press Box at Kinnick Stadium is named in honor of their late daughter, Sandy Buresh.

The Bump Elliott Appreciation Award went to Andy Piro. The Iowa City native was a longtime member of the UI Foundation staff and currently serves as assistant to the athletic director within the UI athletics department.

The Distinguished Service Award was presented to Rita Foley, a longtime member of the UI athletic department staff who serves as the administrative assistant for Iowa’s head football coach.