BOULDER — Junior wide receiver Paul Richardson was named the University of Colorado’s 2013 Most Valuable Player, highlighting the team’s annual senior banquet Sunday at Folsom Field’s Byron White Club room in the east stadium.
Richardson, who obliterated several of CU’s longstanding receiving records this past fall, is the first junior in 11 years to be named the recipient of the team’s MVP honor, named the Zack Jordan Award. Only a handful of non-seniors have ever won the award, last done in 2002 when tailback Chris Brown was named the team MVP as a junior; two years earlier, safety Michael Lewis shared the award his junior year. Richardson is the first wide receiver to garner the honor since D.J. Hackett in 2003 and just the sixth to do so since it was created in 1959.
Already the owner of almost 20 school receiving records, in 2013 he set new single-season standards for receptions (83) and receiving yards (1,343), wiping out numbers previously held by two Buffalo greats set back in 1992 (Michael Westbrook caught 76 passes that year, Charles E. Johnson had 1,149 yards). Undecided if he will return to Colorado for his senior year, Richardson is in CU’s top five all-time in the three major categories: receptions (157, third), yards (2,412, fifth) and touchdowns (21, second).
He earned 51 first downs receiving this year, also a team record, and his 10 touchdowns covered an amazing 470 yards, or 47.0 per; his 21 career scores have canvassed 841 yards, just a shade over 40 yards per touchdown.
With Richardson winning the MVP honor, the coaches gave the nod for the John Mack Award for the most outstanding player on offense to sophomore tailback Christian Powell. The consummate team player, he also often lined up as a fullback and in the end, led the team in rushing for the second straight year. He had 562 yards and three touchdowns, while also catching eight passes for 71 yards in earning 37 total first downs.
The team’s Dave Jones Award for the outstanding defensive player also went to an underclassman, which has happened numerous times, but inside linebacker Addison Gillam became the first freshman ever to do so.
Gillam finished a stellar freshman season with 15 tackles (six solo) in CU’s 24-17 loss at Utah; that enabled him to become the first freshman and just the sixth underclassman to ever lead CU in tackles for the season , as he racked up a frosh record 119 in all (72 unassisted). He officially finished second in the Pac-12 conference, which uses press box figures that the NCAA dictates; Gillam had 107 in those counts, which are often inaccurate, while CU has always used the numbers from coaches’ video review.
Gillam also played 838 snaps from scrimmage for the year, also a CU freshman record. He also led the team in solo tackles (78), third down stops (15), tackles at or behind the line of scrimmage (21) and tackles for zero (11). He added six passes broken up, three quarterback sacks, two touchdown saves and an interception, which came last Saturday in CU’s season finale at Utah.
Two juniors shared the Bill McCartney Award for special teams achievement, linebacker Brady Daigh and placekicker Will Oliver. Daigh, who finished second in the team’s special team point standings with 18, was a key fixture in a duty that awards no points, performing as one of the three protectors on the punt team, often taking the opponents’ best shot at trying to reach CU’s punter. Oliver led the team in scoring for the third straight year, this time with a career-best 81, as he ended with a streak of 60 consecutive extra points made (second longest in CU history) and made good on 17-of-24 field goals, the fourth-most field goals made in a single season at Colorado and the highest count since Mason Crosby made 19 in 2006.
The Scout Team Awards were presented to tailback Phillip Lindsay (offense) and defensive end Derek McCartney (defense). The coaches selected the players who contributed the most to the weekly preparation on their respective scout teams over the course of the entire season.
The Lee Willard Award for the most outstanding freshman went to Sefo Liufau, who gave up his redshirt year in the fifth game of the season, playing for the first time on October 12 at Arizona State. He assumed the starting role from that point on, and set CU true freshman records for most passing categories, including yards (1,779), touchdowns (12), attempts (251) and completions (149).
Defensive tackle Nate Bonsu was honored with the Dean Jacob Van Ek Award for academic achievement. A Pac-12 All-Academic team member and CU’s nominee for the prestigious National Football Foundation’s William Campbell Award, he owns a 3.38 grade point average in his double major fields of study, International Affairs and Political Science.
In all, 69 players earned letters this season, including 15 seniors and 20 cited as first-year lettermen with nine of those players true freshmen.
The evening came to a close with a very special presentation, as MacIntyre brought up junior Juda Parker, who is heavily involved in community service, to present 11-year old Josiah Speer with an official CU football jersey (it was No. 6). Josiah has been an inspiration to the team as he courageously has fought brain cancer since it was first diagnosed when he was just three years old.
The complete list of CU award winners announced Sunday; all awards were selected by the coaching staff unless otherwise noted:
Zack Jordan Award (most valuable player): WR Paul Richardson
John Mack Award (outstanding offensive players): TB Christian Powell
Dave Jones Award (outstanding defensive players): ILB Addison Gillam
Bill McCartney Award (special teams achievement): ILB Brady Daigh, PK Will Oliver
Lee Willard Award (outstanding freshman): QB Sefo Liufau
Dean Jacob Van Ek Award (academic excellence): DT Nate Bonsu
Offensive Scout Player of the Year: TB Phillip Lindsay
Defensive Scout Player of the Year: DE Derek McCartney
Derek Singleton Award (spirit, dedication and enthusiasm): ILB Derrick Webb
Tyronee “Tiger” Bussey Award (inspiration in the face of physical adversity): OG Daniel Munyer
Tom McMahon Award (great dedication and work ethic): TE Scott Fernandez, WR Nelson Spruce
Eddie Crowder Award (outstanding leadership): OLB Paul Vigo, QB Connor Wood
Offensive Trench Award: C Gus Handler, OT Jack Harris
Defensive Trench Award: DE Chidera Uzo-Diribe
Best Interview (selected by team beat media): ILB Derrick Webb
Hammer Award (hardest legal hit of the year): SS Parker Orms
Buffalo Heart Award (selected by “the fans behind the bench”): SS Parker Orms