EAST LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan State football program held its 2019 awards banquet on Sunday afternoon before a crowd of more than 600 at the Kellogg Center on campus.
Fifth-year senior defensive end Kenny Willekes became the first defensive player in school history and just the seventh player at MSU to be named Most Valuable Player (Governor's Award recipient) by his teammates for a second time. The Governor’s Award, which has been given out since 1931, is MSU’s oldest football award. Willekes joins FB George Saimes (1961-62), RB Eric Allen (1970-71), RB Lorenzo White (1985, 1987), FB Scott Green (1994-95), QB Drew Stanton (2004, 2006) and RB Javon Ringer (2007-08) as the only Spartans to win the Governor’s Award twice.
Below is the complete list of hardware presented at the 2019 Spartan Football Awards Banquet.
Governor’s Award (Most Valuable Player): Senior DE Kenny Willekes
Became MSU’s all-time leader in tackles for loss on Senior Day with 2.5 TFLs vs. Maryland and now has 49.5 TFLs in his career . . . leads MSU and ranks tied for fourth in the Big Ten with a career-high nine sacks . . . ranks first among all Big Ten defensive linemen with 69 tackles . . . leads all active FBS players in career tackles for loss . . . has 14.5 tackles for loss in 2019 . . . Burlsworth Trophy finalist . . . 2018 Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year and first-team All-American.
Downtown Coaches Club Award - Outstanding Defensive Player: Senior DE Kenny Willekes
Downtown Coaches Club Award - Outstanding Offensive Player: Senior QB Brian Lewerke
Ranks among Big Ten leaders in passing attempts (first with 399), passing completions (first with 234), passing yards (third with 2,759) and total offense (fourth with 256.3 ypg) . . . has thrown 16 TD passes . . . threw for a season-high 342 yards in Senior Day win over Maryland . . . ranks among school’s all-time leaders in total offense (second with 9,182 yards), passing completions (second with 695) and passing yards (fourth with 7,973).
Downtown Coaches Club Award - Outstanding Special Teams Player: Junior Dominique Long
Leads team with 11 tackles on special teams (eight on punts, three on kickoffs) . . . blocked a punt in the season opener vs. Tulsa . . . Academic All-District selection.
President's Award (Senior Player for Perseverance)
Offense: Senior TE Matt Seybert
Leads tight ends and ranks third on the team with 26 catches for 284 yards . . . also ranks third on the team with three TD receptions.
Defense: Senior LB Tyriq Thompson
Has started all 12 games this season . . . has recorded a career-high 67 tackles, which ranks fifth most on the team . . . also has five QB hurries, two TFLs and one sack.
Up Front Award (Outstanding Lineman)
Offense: Junior OT Jordan Reid
Is the only Spartan offensive lineman to start every game the past two seasons, all at right tackle . . . has started 26 career games at right tackle, including 25 straight . . . led all MSU offensive players with 869 snaps played during the regular season.
Defense: Senior DT Mike Panasiuk
Veteran on the defensive line has started 40 career games . . . has posted career highs this season in tackles (33), tackles for loss (9.0) and sacks (2.0).
Biggie Munn Award (Most Inspirational – voted on by teammates)
Offense: Senior WR Darrell Stewart
Ranked among the Big Ten leaders with 47 catches for 694 yards and four TDs in the first eight games of the season before missing the last month due to injury . . . his 148 career receptions rank tied for fourth most in MSU history.
Defense: Senior DE Kenny Willekes
Clarence Underwood Jr. Sportsmanship Award: Senior DT Raequan Williams
Has started 41 consecutive games at defensive tackle, the longest active streak on the team and tied for the most in the Mark Dantonio era (Shilique Calhoun) . . . has a career-high five sacks this season . . . has 41 tackles overall and seven TFLs . . . ranks 19th in MSU history with 28.5 tackles for loss in his career.
MSU Football Players Association Community Service Award: Senior P Jake Hartbarger
Ranks fourth in the Big Ten in punting (43.1 avg.) . . . has played in 53 career games, one shy of the MSU record . . . named to final watch list for the Ray Guy Award . . . one of 10 Spartans to help volunteer in Houston for the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in 2017.
Potsy Ross Scholar-Athlete Award: Senior OT Cole Chewins
Two-time Academic All-American (first team in 2017, second team in 2018) . . . three-time Academic All-Big Ten and two-time Big Ten Distinguished Scholar . . . has started 25 career games at left tackle but was forced to miss the entire 2019 season due to an injury.
Outstanding Underclass Lineman
Offense: Freshman J.D. Duplain
True freshman has started the last four games of the regular season at left guard . . . has played 353 snaps this season.
Defense: Junior DE Jacub Panasiuk
Has posted career highs this season in tackles (32), tackles for loss (11 for 58 yards) and sacks (five for 32 yards).
Outstanding Underclass Back
Offense: Redshirt freshman RB Elijah Collins
Ranks fourth in Big Ten in rushing (74.3 ypg), which leads all league freshmen . . . his 892 rushing yards are the most by a Spartan freshman since Sedrick Irvin had 1,067 in 1996 . . . Collins’ three 100-yard rushing games (192 vs. Western Michigan, 170 vs. Illinois, 109 vs. Rutgers) are the most by a Spartan freshman since Javon Ringer also had three in 2005.
Defense: Junior LB Antjuan Simmons
Leads team and tied for sixth in Big Ten with 15 tackles for loss . . . also leads team with 81 tackles . . . has 3.5 sacks . . . has started all 12 games (10 at Star linebacker, two at Mike linebacker).
Jim Adams Award (Unsung Heroes)
Offense: Junior offensive lineman Luke Campbell
Veteran offensive lineman battled injuries to start nine games (eight at left guard, one at right guard) . . . has started in 26 career games.
Defense: Junior CB Josiah Scott
Tied for second in Big Ten with three interceptions . . . tied for fourth in Big Ten with 11 passes defended (eight pass break-ups, three interceptions) . . . has started all 12 games at cornerback.
Tommy Love Award (Most Improved)
Offense: Junior WR Cody White
Ranks fifth in the Big Ten with a team-leading and career-high 58 receptions . . . ranks eighth in the Big Ten with a career-high and team-leading 825 receiving yards . . . has five TD receptions.
Defense: Sophomore LB Noah Harvey
Has started the last four games at linebacker . . . has recorded a career-high 35 tackles, including four tackles for loss and three sacks . . . has played in all 12 games.
Danziger Award (Outstanding Detroit Area Player): Junior WR Cody White
Iron Man Award: Senior DT Raequan Williams and senior DE Kenny Willekes
Captains Award: Senior LB Joe Bachie, Senior QB Brian Lewerke, Senior DE Kenny Willekes, Senior DT Raequan Williams
Doug Weaver Oil Can (Team Humorist): Darrell Stewart
Cowing Award (Senior Manager Award): Jack Melone
Con Demos Scholarship (Manager): Markael Butler
George Scofes Outstanding Faculty Award: Ann Hoffman – Communication Arts and Sciences