The Wildcats’ regular season is over, and Northwestern is going bowling for the first time since the 2013 Gator Bowl. Before bowl preparation begins, the WNUR broadcasters look back at the regular season that was and hand out some hardware. Without further ado, the 2015 WNUR college football awards:

Northwestern Offensive Player of the Year: Justin Jackson

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Justin Jackson carried the ball and Northwestern’s offense. Our broadcasters reward him with team offensive player of the year. Photo Credit: David Banks/Getty Images

How they voted: Jackson 16, Mike McHugh 1

What they’re saying:

“JJ is the only player on the offense who could start at most Big Ten schools. And he’d be a star there too.”- Ben Goren

“Where would the Northwestern offense be without Justin Jackson? I don’t know. Rutgers and Maryland probably have a decent idea though.”- Jason Dorow

“If J-Man Prime gets just 15 carries in NU’s bowl game, he will have more than all NFL running backs did in 2014 except DeMarco Murray.” – Max Gelman

“McHugh leads the team in hurdles.”- Matt McHugh

 

Northwestern Defensive Player of the Year: Anthony Walker, Jr.

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Anthony Walker led the talented Northwestern defense, and earned our staff’s vote for team defensive player of the year. Photo Credit: AP Photo/Matt Marton

How they voted: Walker 10, Dean Lowry 5, Matt Harris 2

What they’re saying: 

“Anthony Walker is a straight up beast; another two years like his first two will make him the best linebacker to put on the purple since Pat Fitzgerald… and he may already be that now. “- Ryan Fish

“Defense all starts with control of the line, and the senior Lowry has been a menace in sacking the opposing quarterback, pushing the offensive line back, and deflecting passes.”- Josh Burton

“While Anthony Walker was a one man wrecking crew at times and finished tied-second nationally with 19.5 TFLs, Matthew Harris’ absence caused this defense go from spectacular to pretty good, and back in to top shape once he returned. He is the most valuable piece of the defense and thus beats out the best defensive player in the conference for NU’s DPOY.”- John Beers

 

Northwestern Breakout Player of the Year: Anthony Walker, Jr.

Anthony Walker returns an interception against Penn State.
Anthony Walker had a pick-six against Penn State last year, then burst onto the scene as one of the nation’s best linebackers in 2015. Photo Credit: Nathan Richards / The Daily Northwestern

How they voted:  Walker 6, Nate Hall 2, Clayton Thorson 2, Godwin Igwebuike 2, Tyler Lancaster 1, Deonte Gibson 1, Austin Carr 1

What they’re saying:

“Anthony Walker not only broke out this year after showing signs last year, but he was the defense’s best and one of its most consistent performers. He’s the heart and soul of the defense.”- Zach Pereles

“We knew Anthony Walker was a great athlete with a lot of talent, but his burst onto the scene in the Stanford game surprised everyone. “- Josh Burton

“Nate Hall had to step into a starting linebacker spot with Jaylen Prater sidelined, and the redshirt freshman averaged nine tackles per game in the Wildcats’ final four contests. He and Walker will be scary good next year.”- Jason Dorow

“It’s cheesy to pick the freshman quarterback, and Thorson did struggle mightily at points in the season. But he showed flashes of excellence in both the passing and running games, and he gives Northwestern fans reasons to believe in the future.”- Sam Brief

 

Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State

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Ezekiel Elliott ran through Michigan and ran away with our broadcasters’ vote for conference offensive player of the year. Photo credit: Tim Fuller, Associated Press.

How they voted: Elliott 16, Chris Laviano (Rutgers) 1

What they’re saying:

“Elliott took on a Justin Jackson-esque role for the spread offense of one of the best teams in the country. He blended high volume with the kind of effiency Justin Jackson should strive for.” – Amit Mallik

“Let’s recap: Zeke gets 12 carries, OSU loses, Zeke wants more carries. Zeke gets more carries, rushes for two hundo, OSU wrecks Michigan. Yeah, he’s good.”- Ben Goren

“Look, playing on the biggest stage in the country is hard, and that’s what Laviano had to do playing week after week under the bright lights of Times Square in New York City. Playing in the nation’s biggest media market, and playing well, like Laviano did (that 16:12 TD:INT ratio is top class), is more than deserving of B1G player of the year. – Austin Miller

 

Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year: Carl Nassib, DE, Penn State

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When it comes to conference defensive player of the year, it’s hard to go wrong with the nation’s sack leader. Photo credit: Joe Hermitt, PennLive

How they voted:  Nassib 9, Joey Bosa (Ohio State) 2, Anthony Walker, Jr. 2, Jabril Peppers (Michigan) 2, Joe Schobert (Wisconsin) 1

What they’re saying:

“Nod to Desmond King’s eight picks, but Nassib was simply a force on the front line with 15.5 sacks, helping him be the biggest standout on a defensive line full of talent in Happy Valley.”- Tim Hackett

“Desmond King had a nice year, but I’ll go Nassib. He didn’t play a down after the Northwestern game (due to injury), and he STILL led the nation in sacks and the B1G in TFL.”- Ryan Fish

“A future first round pick, Bosa had another superb season even if he didn’t stuff the stat sheet as much as last season. He consistently drew double teams from opposing offensive lineman, yet still beat them.”- Ari Ross

“Wisconsin struggled with injuries and poor play on offense, but the Badgers managed to go 9-3 thanks to the third-best defense in the nation. Schobert (18.5 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks) led the Badger D from his middle linebacker spot, following in the footsteps of JJ Watt and Jim Leonhard as walk-ons-turned-defensive-playmakers in Madison.”- Michael Stern

 

Big Ten Coach of the Year: Kirk Ferentz, Iowa

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Start the season on the hot seat, end it in Indianapolis? Coach Fitz will shake your hand for that coaching job, Kirk Ferentz.

How they Voted: Ferentz 10, Jim Harbaugh 3, Mark Dantonio 2, Pat Fitzgerald 2

What they’re saying:

“All you can ask for a coach is to go 1-0 every week with the players they have. Ferentz did just that, no matter how easy the schedule was.”- Nick Scoliard

“I don’t care who Iowa played. Have to give Ferentz credit for going undefeated in the Big Ten with a team that had mediocre preseason expectations.”- Jason Dorow

“It may not have been pretty, but Coach Fitz deserves this one for getting a team with a freshman quarterback to go 10-2 and not fall apart after back-to-back blowout losses.” – Adam Braunstein

“Kirk Ferentz would be the easy choice, and he’s very deserving, but Dantonio led his team through a more difficult schedule with more injuries and more expectations.” – Tim Hackett

“Harbaugh gets coach of the year. Yeah, Michigan went 9-3 and had a disappointing game against OSU, but if you say you thought Michigan was going to have as good a season as they did in August, you’re a liar.”- Henry DaMour

 

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