The 2013 Minnesota Golden Gophers had a competitive and challenging football season this year. Health issues for head coach Jerry Kill may have led some to prognosticate that the Gophers would struggle in Big Ten play this season. Kill’s battle with epilepsy was problematic and very disheartening for the team, but especially for the man himself. His resilience and dedication to the team proved to be to0 resounding to allow a health complication to hold him back.
Kill’s amazing and inspiring leadership combined with the outstanding dedication and quality of his coaching staff were truly one of the biggest stories in the Big Ten, and maybe all of college football this season. Kill and his assistant coach Tracey Claeys may not have been awarded with the honor of being called Big Ten coaches of the year, (as the award went to Big Ten champions Michigan State Spartans and their head coach Mark Dantonio) their success will definitely not be soon forgotten.
Kill did not receive the Big Ten honor, but he was able to hand out awards to some of his very deserving players at the culmination of this football season. Awards were given out by the Goal Line Club at the annual Golden Gopher Football Banquet.
Outstanding senior defensive linemen Ra’Shede Hageman was given the team MVP award. The award carries the moniker of the Bronko Nagurski award. The outstanding NFL prospect would not be done after winning only one award, as the best Gopher from 2013 also received the Carl Eller Award which is given to the team’s most outstanding defensive player.
Running David Cobb was the cornerstone of the Golden Gopher offense this season and for his efforts he was the recipient of the Bruce Smith offensive player of the year award. Cobb rushed for over 1,200 yards this season and added seven rushing touchdowns as well. Cobb also received one of the most coveted awards given to a Golden Gopher: the Gary Tinsley Award, which is awarded to a player who most embraces the underdog spirit of the team. Always hard-working and never giving up, it is the epitome of what Jerry Kill expects out of his players.
Another high honor given to a member of the team is the Tony Dungy Character and Community Service Award. NFL champion Tony Dungy truly represents the highest level of character and this year’s recipient was Chris Hawthorne. Hawthorne, the Gophers Kicker, was the first Minnesota football player to represent the Big Ten Conference on the Division I Student Athlete Advisory Committee.
Peter Mortell was given the Bobby Bell Award. This award goes to the team’s most outstanding special team’s contributor. Mortell was an honorable mention all-Big Ten player this season and also an academic all-Big Ten player while averaging 43.3 yards per punt.
Finally Brock Vereen and Aaron Hill were honored to share this year’s Paul Giel Award. This another highly regarded award as it is given to individuals who portray unselfish play and represent the most concern for the wellbeing of the University of Minnesota.