The Wisconsin football trophy cases will need some renovations.
After the Big Ten title the Badgers won, the individual accolades kept coming for UW’s players, with the 2010 awards season ending as one of the best in Wisconsin history. Five players were named to various All-America teams, with 18 players being named to All-Big Ten teams.
Three Badgers won major trophies this season, in addition to two other players named finalists for awards.
Scott Tolzien took home the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm award, given to the nation’s top senior quarterback. Tolzien finished with 2,300 passing yards and 16 touchdowns against just six interceptions. He also shattered school records in passing efficiency (169.8, fourth in FBS) and completion percentage (74.3, first in FBS).
One stat that might get overlooked is Tolzien’s performance in the clutch. The Rolling Meadows, Ill., native led a picturesque scoring drive against Iowa to earn a 31-30 comeback win. He was 2-for-2 on fourth-down passing for the season, one of those coming on that drive in Iowa City. Even more remarkable was his completion percentage on third-down passing, where he was 42-for-60, with 28 of the completions good for first downs and two going for touchdowns.
It would be easy to take the time to try to appreciate what Tolzien has already accomplished. But there’s still a game to be played, and that’s where the focus is.
“I like [that] approach. I think it’s all about focusing on the Rose Bowl here,” he said. “I’ll have plenty of time after the game to reflect on the season and everything like that.”
Senior left tackle Gabe Carimi won the Outland Trophy, given to the nation’s best interior lineman on either side of the ball. Carimi was excellent, allowing just one sack on the season, despite facing Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Ryan Kerrigan of Purdue, as well as All-American defensive end Adrian Clayborne of Iowa and Cameron Heyward of Ohio State.
The Cottage Grove native is just the second Badger to win the award, the other being Joe Thomas, who ended up being selected third overall in the 2007 NFL draft.
“It’s unbelievable,” Carimi said. “It’s great that we had back-to-back left tackles get the award. That’s something we’re very proud of.”
Carimi was also named to the Associated Press, AFCA, SI.com, Rivals.com, FWAA and Walter Camp All-America first teams, making him a consensus pick.
Joining Carimi on various All-America teams are left guard John Moffitt, tight end Lance Kendricks, running back John Clay and defensive end J.J. Watt. Both Carimi and Moffitt were named first-team All-America by the AP — the first time since 2008 one team had two linemen named to the first team.
Watt was the other Badger to win a national award, as Sunday he won the Lott IMPACT Trophy. The Lott Trophy measures both defensive play and personal character of an athlete, both areas where Watt stands out.
The Pewaukee native had 59 tackles, with 21 going for loss (third in FBS). He registered seven sacks and seven pass break ups, as well as three forced fumbles, recovering two and recording one interception. The junior also paced the Badgers with 10 quarterback hurries, and in special teams play, blocked three kicks — including an extra point that proved the difference in UW’s game at Kinnick Stadium.
Kendricks was one of three finalists for the Mackey Award, given to the nation’s top tight end. Arkansas’ D.J. Williams took home the award, but Kendricks was the first-team tight end on the AFCA All-America team. Kendricks led the Badgers with 39 receptions for 629 yards and five touchdowns, as well as being one of the best blockers in the running game.
Clay earned third-team AP All-America honors and was one of three finalists for the Doak Walker Award, given to the nation’s top running back. While Oregon’s LaMichael James won the award, Clay’s status as a finalist is a testament to his performance in an injury-shortened season. After spraining a knee in the Badgers’ game against Purdue, Clay missed two games and saw just limited action against Northwestern.
However, the junior was still able to rack up 952 yards and 13 touchdowns, as well as two touchdowns each against Ohio State and Iowa — at the time, Iowa had allowed just two rushing touchdowns all season.
Behind the scenes, head coach Bret Bielema was a finalist for the coach of the year award, won by Auburn’s Gene Chizik, and offensive coordinator Paul Chryst, running backs coach John Settle and offensive line coach Bob Bostad were also finalists for national awards given to their respective position coaches.