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2014 Football Team Awards

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The annual football awards dinner was held on Saturday and outstanding team members were recognized for their work. The On the Banks staff takes a look at the recipients and offers its thoughts.

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The 2014 Rutgers Awards Banquet - the 76th version - honored the outstanding players on the 2014 squad.  It always struck me as unusual that the dinner preceded the bowl game, but then when this started, Rutgers wasn't playing in any bowls.

The names on the list of honorees are, for even the casual fan, a listing of the "usual suspects".  These are the players who we knew were going to be key elements of the team from preseason camp. Let's go through the award winners.

Most Improved Scholar: Quanzell Lambert

Bob Cancro: Athletics and academics. Any problem?  Not here.  And the guy was a player.

Ray Ransom: As a former RU adjunct, I have a ton of respect for Knights who can get it done on the field and in the classroom. Right on QL!

Scholar-Athlete Award: David Milewski

Bob Cancro: Let me say that again: Athletics and academics. Any problem?  Not here. An Academic All-America with a 3.88 GPA.  Team captain  pursuing a master's of business administration. Milewski is a four-time member of the conference all-academic team.  Make that three conferences!

Kevin Recio: Kyle Flood prides himself on preparing his players on life after football, and I applaud Milewski for finding his own path in life outside of the sport he has played for so long. He received a great education at Rutgers, and it's wonderful that he had the choice to pursue two different careers. Best of luck to him in the future.

Ray Ransom: 5 bucks says Milewski is Rutgers' AD in 20 years.

"R" Man Courage Award: Taj Alexander, Gareef Glashen

Given to the player who best demonstrates courage, belief, strength and inspiration to all.

Bob Cancro:  Alexander went from defense to offense as a redshirt freshman and has been a stalwart on the OL. For Glashen, it's been four years of steady play.

Kevin Recio: Glashen has been a mainstay for the Rutgers secondary, but couldn't quite make it as the full-time starter in past years with so much talent in front of him. It's nice to see his hard work pay off in 2014.

Ray Ransom: What a pair of players. Talk about steady, consistent play. These are the kinds of players you build programs around. One of the themes of this season is how likeable this team is. These guys are part of the core that makes that statement ring true.

Loyal Knight Award (donated by the Rutgers Alumni Association): Mike Bimonte, Tyler Kroft, Kevin Snyder

Presented to the player who has displayed great character in sacrificing personal goals for the good of the team.

Bob Cancro:  It has to be tough to be a QB in high school where you're the man and then sit in college.  Bimonte was a team player in that regard. Kroft is only a junior who started out on special teams.  And Snyder has been a leader at the LB

Ray Ransom: Again, three great players. Bimonte stuck with the program even though he never got his chance to start; a rare feat in modern college football. Kroft took on more responsibility in the run game, but put his head down and got the job done. No complaining, only a positive attitude. Snyder was the brains of the defense and has been a playmaker for almost a decade it seems. A great trio.

Iron Knight Award: Kaleb Johnson, Lorenzo Waters

Presented to the player who has demonstrated an exceptionally high level of mental and physical toughness throughout his career

Bob Cancro:  Johnson has been a stud on the OL.  Waters the same on D.

Kevin Recio: Kaleb Johnson is about to make his 50th start in college football. That is incredible, and makes me scared to think of a future without him on the offensive line.

Ray Ransom: Anyone feel like Johnson is criminally underrated? Remember what the O-Line was like a few years ago? Players like KJ got us back to where we needed to be. As for Waters? Love the way this kid plays football.

Most Valuable Offensive and Defensive Lineman: David Milewski (defensive line), Betim Bujari (offensive line)

Donated by the Bender Trust

Bob Cancro: Uhh, I got nothing but, yeah, that sounds about right. Seriously, it's hard to be wrong choosing those two.

Kevin Recio: Center is almost always the most valuable offensive lineman, but I wonder if Milewski received this award only because Hamilton was awarded Defensive MVP and will be returning next year as well. You could absolutely make the argument for Milewski due to his experience though.

Ray Ransom: I could go on about Milewski forever, but I have a soft spot in my heart for Betim. I actually had him as a student and he was an exceptional individual, both in his studies and in terms of being a great person to interact with. He's got a great outlook on life and his studies and the physicality to play on Sundays.

Swarm and Finish Award: Djwany Mera (defense), Michael Burton (offense)

Swarm and Finish is given to the player who exemplifies the type of consistent effort and intensity in best representing the Rutgers' mantra to swarm and finish

Bob Cancro: Mera earned the Iron Knight Award last year.  Sounds like he just collects hardware for outstanding and steady work.  And Burton?  Solid...solid...solid.  See below.

Kevin Recio: Quentin Gause exemplified the swarm and finish mentality this season with his play on the field, so I'm a bit surprised he didn't get the award.

Ray Ransom: Definitely felt like Mera made his plays on hustle. While Milewski, Turay and Hamilton often got it done with polished moves, overpowerng strength or a fast first step, it felt like Mera made his plays via his high motor. As for Burton, the guy is critical to the offense and exemplifies Rutgers football. So much so, that I campaigned for him as Big Ten Fullback of the Year over on Off Tackle Empire. It was an easy win.

MVP - Special Teams: Kyle Federico

Bob Cancro: Special teams was not an area that Rutgers excelled in but Federico became a much steadier kicker.

Kevin Recio: Have to give it to someone, right? If Janarion Grant was just a bit more productive, I could see him taking this award. Maybe next season.

Ray Ransom: Federico had a solid year with a few really great moments. Great to see his growth as a player.

MVP - Offense: Leonte Carroo

Bob Cancro: Well, I was thinking that instead of Leonte, we could have chosen....Nah, just kiddin'.  I hope he stays another year but....

Ray Ransom: He's one of the best offensive players in the Big Ten and did Rutgers proud with big play after big play this season. He'll be off to play on Sundays soon, but it's been great having him play On The Banks!

MVP - Defense: Darius Hamilton

Bob Cancro: There is no other possibility.  Period.

Ray Ransom: Sometimes I feel like he's playing fullback for the opponent, because the guy lives in the backfield. Great to see him get the recognition he deserves.

Paul Robeson Award : Michael Burton

Donated by the Touchdown Club, the Robeson Award is presented annually to that individual whose performance, leadership and dedication on and off the field during his career has had the greatest impact on Rutgers football

Bob Cancro: Character.  Burton was a fullback.  Can it get any more unglamorous?  But Burton was the heart and soul of the team, and he worked and represented.  Have a great picture that needs to go in here.

Kevin Recio: We're a B1G team now, so I approve of this award going to a fullback. Also, he's just really great.

Ray Ransom: High praise for a worthy recipient. I don't think Burton will get drafted, but I do think he'll have a long NFL career. Think about how often a Fullback receives this kind of recognition. That's how good he is.

Axe Player of the Year: Gary Nova

Homer Hazel Trophy (team MVP) : Gary Nova

Donated by the Rutgers Football Letterwinners Association

Bob Cancro: QBs get too much credit, too much blame.  Nova was there for both.  But this year - and yes there were some blips - Nova was a senior leader.  The Maryland game said volumes about who he really was.

Kevin Recio: Just take a look at the other QBs in the Big Ten, and you'll see that Gary Nova is well above-average in terms of the rest of the conference. Sure, we all would have liked more consistency as opposed to his drastic spikes in production, but there is no doubt that Nova had an impressive year. Only Connor Cook, Tommy Armstrong, and whomever takes the snap for Ohio State were better this year, and that includes Hack.

Ray Ransom: Gary led a great career on the banks. Sure, he had some bad moments, but he had some huge ones as well. Arkansas, Arkansas, Wazzou, Michigan, Maryland. He single-handedly led Rutgers to its first Big Ten win, over the winningest program in college football. He led the greatest comeback in school history. I say, we throw out all of the nicknames, except one: SUPERNOVA!

Rutgers football also honored its 22 seniors at the banquet: Myles Jackson, Sean Barowski, Dallas Whitaker, Johnathan Aiken, Alexander, Sam Bergen, Bimonte, Nick Borgese, Bujari, Burton, Nick DeLouisa, Glashen, Johnson, Kenneth Kirksey, Bryan Leoni, Milewski, Anthony Milito, Nova, Iyanoso Ogbevoen, Snyder, Andrew Turzilli and Waters.

What are your thoughts on this list of awards?  Have these seniors left an indelible mark on RU?  Will we be seeing some underclassmen depart early?  See you in the comments.