Tonight the Big Ten will announce their All-Big Ten Teams for football.
It is more difficult now than it ever was to earn a spot as one of the 2 best players at your position in the conference (1st and 2nd teams). What once was a 2 out of 11 shot (18.2%) is now 2/12 (16.7%). The Gophers as a team were not good enough to earn any postseason recognition, but were a couple guys good enough to earn some post-season honers?
MarQueis Gray - has a shot, mostly because at times he carried this team. I'm sure that those who saw him in against Michigan State, Illinois, Iowa or Northwestern would consider giving him a vote. His problem is that guys like Russell Wilson, Dan Persa, Kirk Cousins and Denard Robinson are going to garner more votes. 6th in the Big Ten in total yards is nothing to sneeze at. He certainly deserves an honorable mention mention but he will not be a 1st or 2nd teamer (this year).
Kim Royston - led the league in solo tackles, ranked nationally as one of the top 20 tacklers. Royston is a senior who made several big plays during the year. Clearly the leader of the Gopher defense who had a good year and might sneak on to the 2nd team. I wouldn't be shocked but I still think honorable mention is in his future.
Chris Bunders - I didn't think I'd be bringing his name up at the end of the season as being in the running for any awards but Bunders had a very nice season. The Gopher offensive line improved dramatically throughout the season Bunders was one of the guys who was playing his best in the second half of the year. The senior started at guard and move out to RT when injuries started hitting the line. But Bunders was more than durable and acceptable on the outside, he excelled. Like the guys ahead of him I'm not expecting 1st or 2nd team but honorable mention is very possible.
Duane Bennett - 659 yards for the season isn't going to be enough to earn you any awards as a RB in the Big Ten (especially this year). But Bennett did make some huge plays this year including a blocked punt and a kick return for a touchdown. Will that be enough to earn some career achievement respect from around the Big Ten? Not likely but a solid Gopher career from a good guy with a bright future.
Da'Jon McKnight - had a disappointing senior season but it wasn't all that terrible. He still finished 7th in receptions in the Big Ten and I believe 6th in receiving yards. There are a number of more marquee names ahead of him like McNutt, Cunningham, Jenkins and Toon so I'm not anticipating he'll win any awards but it is possible. Maybe if he hadn't dropped a few ball against Illinois to pad his yards and TD totals he'd be in the running.
Gary Tinsley - Not likely to earn any awards but Tinsley had a nice senior season. 2nd on the team, 17th in the Big Ten in tackles but lead the team in sacks (4.0) and tackles for losses (9.0). Not a bad season but he was on a bad team playing MLB, not likely to get more votes than a number of other guys.
I'm not proposing that everyone listed above is going to earn any awards. This is just a list of guys who even have a remote chance. I think Royston has a good chance at landing as a 2nd team selection. Gray and Bunders will earn honorable mention. The other three guys may also earn HM status but I wouldn't hold my breath.
What do you guys think? Anyone who you think is absolutely going to get in? Did I miss anyone?