The third annual Wimple Awards:
The 2009 Purple Wimple Players of the Year: Daryl Washington, Jerry Hughes
On a team full of playmakers, Daryl Washington and Jerry Hughes proved the most consistent big-play threats in purple. Washington stepped into the daunting shoes of Robert Henson, filled them, and then some. Washington was one of the emotional leaders of the team, as well as one of the defense's best performers. In 2009 the senior averaged over eight tackles per game, and never tallied less than five-- and in those three in which he only got five, at least one was for a loss. Washington played big in big games: his career best game was at Clemson, where he not only tallied 13 stops, but chased down C. J. Spiller in a footrace, bringing down the ACC Player of the Year and turning what would have been a touchdown into a field goal. Washington made ten and nine tackles at BYU and at Air Force, respectively, making him the Frogs' most valuable performer away from Amon Carter Stadium, as well as in it. Jerry Hughes's numbers themselves say much of the story: 58 tackles (21 of them for a loss); 13 sacks; seven (officially) QB hurries; two forced fumbles. Elite defenders rack up totals like that, and of those, only the best do it more than once. Hughes did it twice, despite being the number one threat on opposing offensive-coordinators' minds all off-season. For his effort he brought home the hardware in 2009, winning the Ted Henricks award, as well as his second consecutive spot as as first-team consensus All-American. (This year he was a the unanimous pick.) Hughes and Washington have played every year on special teams. Few Frogs have as obvious and as bright a future in the NFL as these two have; their years at TCU-- even when not starting-- were brilliant. Like Jason Phillips last year, and Chase Ortiz the year before, it will be hard to imagine the TCU team-- especially the defense-- without these defenders prowling in the middle of it and camping out in the opponents' backfields, making them look slow and stupid.
Offensive Player of the Year: Andy Dalton
The Wimple made the point last year, when awarding the quarterback with this same award, that no single player accounted for the Frogs' increase in productivity between '07 and '08 than Dalton. It is a singular delight, then, to note that this continues to be true. No single Frog accounts for more of the difference between the offense's record-setting '08 season, and its substantially more impressive (and record-setting) '09 output than Andy Dalton. With over 500 more yards, and 12 more touchdowns than last season, the junior had the best single season any TCU quarterback has had since at least the leather helmet era, if not ever. Dalton threw more touchdowns in 2009 (23) than he threw the previous two years combined, and threw only eight interceptions. Raw production aside, Dalton proved more durable than in the past, quicker and more dangerous as a running threat, and smarter than the defenses he faced. Against Clemson, he executed the Slice relentlessly, running for almost 70 yards in the second half, keeping TCU's scoring drives alive. Against Utah, Dalton completely negated the Utes' exotic blitzes, reading and passing over them repeatedly, and quickly! Dalton's increased production and smart performance was the most valuable component in TCU's best ever offensive year. His return in 2010 makes TCU a viable contender for the crystal trophy.
Defensive Player of the Year: Raphael Priest
The senior cornerback was one of the steadiest performers on the team, let alone in the secondary, which was marked by unexpected turmoil all season. How often did this fleet athlete lock down receivers sent to steal a deep pass? Priest's fourth starting campaign was perhaps his best. Priest started all but one game in the regular season--the only missed start of his career--and likely will continue football professionally this fall.
Special Teams Player of the Year: Jeremy Kerley
Few players can take not receiving the ball as a compliment, but Jeremy Kerley is not like most players. Opposing teams kicked away from him all year, and when forced to punt his way, tried to punt out of bounds. It's hard to blame them: when Kerley fielded a punt or kickoff, he was electric. Twice Kerley returned kicks for touchdowns, both times igniting the Frogs' then-sluggish teammates. Kerley's touchdown return against Colorado State (watch it here and weep for other teams' special teams) is a lesson in agility, vision, and speed. It won ESPN's best play of the year, and should have.
Senior of the Year: Marshall Newhouse
Like Herbert Taylor before him, Marshall Newhouse began playing as a true freshman at TCU, at right tackle, and migrated to left tackle to replace a graduating senior. Chase Ortiz called Newhouse the most talented o-lineman at TCU, and after four years, the Wimple will brook no dissent on the issue. Newhouse has proven Taylor's equal in talent and, just as importantly, durability. The senior started or played in every TCU game since 2006. Last year, Marshall Newhouse anchored (with then-senior Blake Shlueter) an o-line that topped its best year in almost a decade, registering over 220 ground yards per game and over 33 points per game. Newhouse, the only starting senior on the line in 2009, led the group that bested both of those marks. The line allowed the fewest sacks (12) since joining the MWC, at least.
Freshman of the Year: Ed Wesley, Matthew Tucker
Behind the best o-line in at least a decade, these two runningbacks burst on the scene and have left Frog watchers wondering how the three incoming bluechip runningbacks will fit into the backfield. Ed Wesley was not only unheralded as a recruit, but was considered a poor choice by the few commentators who took any notice of him at all coming out of high school. Word filtered out during his redshirt year, however, that he was elusive and difficult for the Frogs' tremendous defense to stop. Thankfully he ran into the face of other teams' defenses in 2009, and relentlessly. Wesley averaged over six yards per carry, splitting snaps with Turner and Tucker. He also racked up 170 aerial yards, making Wesley one of the Frogs most versatile and dangerous weapons.
True freshman Matt Tucker had considerably more hype to live up to as a recruit to TCU, and did so in spades. Too talented for the coaches to redshirt him, Tucker made waves from his first practice in August. By season's open, the freshman had worked his way to second in the Frogs' three-back ground attack. By the postseason, Tucker had amassed 6.4 ypc, with slightly more touches than Wesley, and twice as many touchdowns (8).
Can't Wait to See Next Year: Dwight Smith, Casey Pachall, Stansley Maponga, David Johnson, James Dunbar.