IOWA CITY, Iowa — University of Iowa senior quarterback Nate Stanley and junior defensive end A.J. Epenesa were named Roy J. Carver Most Valuable Players at the 2019 Hawkeye football awards banquet Sunday.
Stanley, a native of Menomonie, Wisconsin, has started all 38 games over the past three seasons, leading the Hawkeyes to a 26-12 record. He ranks second in career touchdown passes (66) and pass attempts (1,128), and third in passing yards (8,089), total offense (7,994) and completions (655).
Epenesa is a native of Glen Carbon, Illinois. He leads the team in tackles for loss (13) and sacks (nine), while recording 47 tackles. Two times this season he was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week (Minnesota, Nebraska). He was named a Walter Camp second-team All-American and is one of five finalists for the Polynesian Player of the Year. He earned first-team All-Big Ten recognition for the second straight season.
Five team captains for the 2019 season were announced; Stanley and senior fullback Brady Ross on offense, senior linebacker Kristian Welch and junior defensive back Geno Stone on defense, and senior defensive back Devonte Young for special teams play.
Stanley is honored as a team captain for the third straight year, joining former linebacker Josey Jewell as the only three-year captains in program history. Ross has contributed at the fullback position throughout his career, scoring his first career touchdown as a senior. He is a native of Humboldt, Iowa.
Welch, a native of Iola, Wisconsin, started at middle linebacker in nine games. Despite missing three contests due to injury. Welch led the team in tackles (80) and was third in tackles for loss (7.5) and sacks (3). Welch earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors for league coaches and media.
Stone ranked third on the team with 65 tackles, while forcing two fumbles and recovering one fumble. The native of New Castle, Pennsylvania, earned second-team All-Big Ten recognition from Big Ten coaches and has started 20 games over the past two seasons.
Young has contributed on special teams throughout his career. The native of Waldorf, Maryland, contributed 10 tackles and one kickoff return on special teams this season, along with a key fumble recovery in Iowa’s 18-17 win at Iowa State.
Stanley, Stone, Welch, Young, and junior kicker Keith Duncan, were honored with the Hayden Fry Award, which is presented to team members who show exemplary leadership and dedication throughout the year.
Duncan, who joined the program following his prep career at Weddington, North Carolina High School, led the nation in field goals (29), setting school and Big Ten records. He was the Bakken-Andersen Kicker of the Year in the Big Ten and a finalist for the Lou Groza Award. Duncan leads the team in scoring (112) and has also been named a Walter Camp second-team All-American.
The Reggie Roby Special Teams Award was shared by Duncan (specialist) and Young (overall).
Junior offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs was recognized with the Iron Hawk Award. The Mount Vernon, Iowa, native was named the Rimington-Pace Offensive Lineman of the Year in the Big Ten. He is a first-team Walter Camp All-American. Wirfs played both right and left tackle during the season while starting all 12 games. One of six semifinalists for the Outland Trophy, Wirfs has 32 career starts.
The Brett Greenwood Award was shared by Ross, senior defensive back John Milani, senior long snapper Jackson Subbert, and senior tight end Nate Wieting. Milani, an Iowa City native, contributed five tackles and one recovered fumble while playing primarily on special teams. Subbert, a Williamsburg, Iowa, native, handled all deep snaps the past two seasons. He was a semifinalist for the Patrick Mannelly Award for long snappers. Wieting (Rockford, Illinois) had his most productive season with nine receptions for 100 yards while earning the fourth letter of his career.
Established in 2011, the Greenwood Award also honors former Hawkeyes, one year at a time, for each season Kirk Ferentz has coached the Hawkeyes. Former long snapper Dan Olszta (2005-07) was recognized as the former player.
Junior defensive tackle Austin Schulte and junior wide receiver Max Cooper shared Comeback Player of the Year honors. Schulte (Pella, Iowa) and Cooper (Waukesha, Wisconsin), both returned from significant injuries. Schulte recorded 12 tackles while playing in all 12 games. Cooper saw action in seven games, recording one reception. He averaged six yards on three punt returns after taking over those duties over the second half of the season.
Five Hawkeyes earned the Next Man In Award; freshman wide receiver Tyrone Tracy, Jr. (Camby, Indiana) on offense, sophomore defensive back Jack Koerner (Des Moines, Iowa) and freshman defensive back Dane Belton (Tampa, Florida) on defense, and Cooper and sophomore defensive back Henry Marchese (Vernon Hills, Illinois) on special teams.
Tracy recorded 36 receptions for 589 yards and three touchdowns. Koerner stepped in at safety and ranked second on the team with 73 tackles. He also had five pass break-ups, two recovered fumbles, one forced fumble and one interception. Belton saw extensive action during the second half of the season and recorded 27 tackles. Marchese was a key contributor on special teams throughout the season, and Cooper was used on punt returns.
Senior quarterback Ryan Schmidt was the recipient of the Forest Evashevski Scholastic Achievement Award, presented to a senior who has the highest scholastic record. Schmidt, a native of Marion, Iowa, has earned Academic All-Big Ten honors for the past three years. He earned President’s List and Dean’s List recognition in 2018 and is a member of the 2019 Leadership Group.
Coaches Appreciation Award recipients include senior linemen Landan Paulsen and Levi Paulsen on offense, Welch, tackle Cedrick Lattimore, and cornerback Michael Ojemudia on defense, and Ross, punter/holder Colten Rastetter, and punter Michael Sleep-Dalton on special teams.
The Paulsen twins are natives of Moville, Iowa. Levi saw action at both tackle and guard throughout the season, starting four games and playing in all 12 games. Landan started 10 games at left guard.
Lattimore started every game on defense, recording 40 tackles, including three tackles for loss and two sacks. The native of Redford, Michigan, had a fumble recovery against Wisconsin, and earned honorable mention All-Big Ten recognition.
Sleep-Dalton joined the Hawkeyes as a graduate transfer. The native of Geelong, Australia earned honorable mention All-Big Ten while averaging 42.1 yards on 54 punts. He had 10 punts of 50 yards or more, with 21 punts inside the 20. Rastetter contributed to Iowa’s special teams success as the holder for all placements.
Team Hustle Awards went to Wirfs and junior wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette on offense, senior tackle Brady Reiff, junior end Chauncey Golston, and junior cornerback Matt Hankins on defense, and Milani, Subbert and senior defensive end Amani Jones on special teams.
Smith-Marsette led the team with 676 receiving yards and four touchdowns on 42 receptions. He also averaged 10.3 yards on nine rushing attempts and 25.8 yards on 14 kickoff returns. Along with four receiving touchdowns, he added two rushing scores and a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in Iowa’s win at Nebraska. He is a native of Newark, New Jersey.
Reiff, a native of Parkston, South Dakota, started nine games while missing three games because of injury. Reiff recorded 29 tackles, two sacks, two tackles for loss and a pass break-up. Golston (Detroit, Michigan) started all 12 games, recording 44 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, and four pass break-ups.
Hankins, a native of Lewisville, Texas, also missed three games because of injury. He collected 51 tackles, two interceptions and six pass break-ups. Jones, a Chicago native, played both linebacker and end during his career and was a leader on Iowa’s special teams.
Team Leader Awards were presented to Young and redshirt freshman lineman Matt Fagan on offense, Marchese and junior linebacker Nick Anderson on defense, and redshirt freshmen Dallas Craddieth and Samson Evans on special teams.
Fagan is from Council Bluffs, Iowa, and Anderson is from Waukee, Iowa. Craddieth is a native of St. Louis, Missouri, and Evans a native of Crystal Lake, Illinois. The Team Leader Award recognizes players for their weekly scout team contributions.
The Player Appreciation Award was presented to Mary Kay and Pat McGrath. The McGrath’s have been season ticket holders for Iowa football, basketball, and wrestling since 1991, and also provided support for the Football Facilities Fund for the Hansen Football Performance Center. They have also supported the Ladies Football Academy.
The McGrath’s are long-term I-Club members and supporters of the Athletics Courtesy Car program. They have contributed to Iowa athletics through long-term support with in-kind flights for Iowa football, recognized as the Hawkeye Airforce.
The Bump Elliott Appreciation Award was presented to Brady McDonald and Fred Littleton. Through Basta Restaurant, they provide dedicated service and commitment to the nutritional needs of Iowa football.
The 2018 Distinguished Service Award was presented to former assistant coach Reese Morgan. Morgan was a member of Iowa’s coaching staff for 19 seasons prior to his retirement following the 2018 season. He coached Iowa’s defensive line for the final seven seasons on staff after previously coaching Iowa’s offensive line (2003-11) and serving as recruiting coordinator and tight ends coach (2000-02).
Iowa posted a 151-91 record over the past 19 seasons with Morgan on staff, appearing in 16 bowl games, including 11 January contests, and the 2015 Big Ten Conference championship game. Iowa earned a share of the Big Ten title in 2002 and 2004. The Hawkeyes finished in the Big Ten’s first division in 16 years with Morgan as a staff member.
Iowa (9-3, 7-3) will face USC at the 2019 Holiday Bowl in San Diego on Dec. 27 (7 p.m. CT, FS1). For ticket and bowl game information, visit hawkeyesports.com/bowlcentral.