Last year the Wimple awarded several Horned Frog standouts for the '07 season. (awarded with what? ask you... With kudos, comes the answer.)
The 2008 Purple Wimple Player of the Year: Jason Phillips
This year's TCU team has an embarassment of riches; how do you pick just one of them for this award? Phillips led the team in tackles, gets credit for teaching Robert Henson how to watch film (and that from Henson, a short-list second for this honor, himself), is invariably the coach's first answer to why this year's team has succeeded so well, and the senior linebacker won't be around to pick next year. He'll be in the NFL-- perhaps a first day draft pick-- terrorizing offenses just like he's been doing for four years in the Mountain West.
Photo: M. Walters
Offensive Player of the Year: Andy Dalton
Statistically, the 2007 and 2008 Horned Frog offense was nearly identical, except in one glaring way: interceptions. In '07, the freshman Dalton threw 11 INTs and 10 TDs, and in the process, probably accounted more for 4 of the the Frogs 5 losses than any other player. Enter Andy Dalton, the sophemore. In 2008, prior to the bowl, Dalton has thrown for 11 scores, and only 4 interceptions, and one of those turnovers came as a forgivable hail-Mary pass for the final play in Salt Lake City. Add smart rushing (and 8 TDs with his feet) and Dalton's improvement under center accounts more much of the Frogs' improvement in the win column over last year.
Photo: M. Walters
Defensive Player of the Year: Jerry Hughes
What hasn't been said about Jerry Hughes' dream season? He's a finalist for much more prestigious awards than this one; he's been the step-up player the Frogs needed on the line; his best game was the Frogs' grudge match against BYU on a Thursday, to a national audience; at Utah, he commanded double teams on nearly every play. In short, Hughes stepped into the very large shoes that Chase Ortiz left for a Frog DE, and filled them to overflowing. Hughes will be the only returning starter on next season's front four, and will perhaps be the key defenseman to keep pressure off a new linebacker, defensive tackle and end.
Special Teams Player of the Year: Drew Combs
While the Frogs broke in two freshmen kickers, it was Drew Combs who modeled consistent performance for the youngsters. The senior never made Frog fans nervous as he lined up to for kickoffs.
Seniors of the Year: James Vess, Walter Bryant
Two seniors deserve particular recognition here, because they seem not to get it elsewhere. Walter Bryant turned in his best year in 2008, delivering one clutch catch after another. James Vess returned to the line after a year's suspension, and dominated. Vess's absence last year was palpable, and this year Jerry Hughes was always quick to credit Vess with attracting blockers and paving the way for his own success.
Freshman of the Year: Kyle Dooley
Sure to be unnoticed in next year's pre-season analyses of the Frogs will be Dooley's status as a returner at left guard. This walk-on freshman beat out two older players, including senior starter Preston Phillips, to guard Dalton's blind side this season. Dooley injured his knee late in the season, but will be an experienced-- and likely scholarship-- force on the interior line next season.
Photo: Texas Football/Jim Thompson
Can't Wait to See Next Year:
Turner, Hicks, Kerley, Washington, Bledsoe, Foltz, Dooley, Caveness, Carder, Broughton. . . just to name a few!