Aron Cruickshank put the nation on notice during the 2019 Rose Bowl when he returned a first quarter kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown. The Wisconsin transfer wasted no time in making his mark during his first season at Rutgers.
On Thursday, Cruickshank was named the Big Ten’s return specialist of the year in a vote by conference coaches. He is just the second Rutgers’ player ever to earn a top-individual award from the Big Ten, joining Ryan Anderson, who was named the conference’s punter of the year in 2017.
All individual award winners have a defining moment throughout the season to remember. For Cruickshank, it came on the road against Purdue. He fielded a kickoff near the goal line and returned it 100 yards for a score. This was just the fifth 100-yard return in the history of Rutgers’ football.
Cruickshank also earned the return specialist’s first-team award, voted on by coaches and media. This is the second time Cruickshank has landed on the list, being voted second-team in 2019 as a member of the Badgers.
Cruickshank is currently second in the Big Ten with a kick return average of 23.9 yards. Through eight games, Cruickshank has racked up 573 yards on 24 returns. Joining Cruickshank in the special teams category is Adam Korsak, who was named Second Team by media and Third Team by coaches.
Olakunle Fatukasi has turned in an excellent season for Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights’ linebacker currently leads the Big Ten in tackles with 98. He was named First Team All-Big Ten by the media and Second Team by the coaches. Yes, it is a bit of a snub that Fatukasi was not First Team in both selections, but it does not compare to the situation involving Bo Melton.
When the offensive awards were announced, there were certain announcements to expect. Justin Fields as the league’s best player, Pat Freiermuth as the top tight end, etc. One thing we did not expect is Melton being left off all three teams.
Melton finished fifth in the Big Ten in receiving yards (557), fourth in receptions (42), and tied for third in touchdowns (6). This is not to say that Melton is the top receiver in the conference but it is hard to justify that there were six better during the 2020 season.
Indiana’s Ty Fryfogle was named the Richter-Howard Receiver of the Year after totaling 687 yards and seven touchdowns. Penn State’s Jahan Dotson and Purdue’s David Bell also turned in dominant years. When reviewing the winners, these were the only three worthy over Melton. Both Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson of Ohio State were named First Team by coaches and Second Team by media after playing just five games.
Melton was named honorable mention by both coaches and media. Reggie Sutton was also an honorable mention by coaches while Raiqwon O’Neal received the same recognition by media. Defensively, the Scarlet Knights were more represented. Both coaches and media voted Julius Turner, Michael Dwumfour, Mike Tverdov, and Christian Izien as honorable mentions. Avery Young and Tyshon Fogg received the same honor from media while coaches voted Brendon White.