Senior wide receiver Nelson Spruce was named the University of Colorado football team's 2015 Most Valuable Player, highlighting the team's annual senior banquet Saturday afternoon at Folsom Field's Byron White Club Room at Folsom Field.
In doing so, he becomes just the fifth player to earn the distinction more than once since the award was begun in 1959. Spruce joins guard Joe Romig (1959, 1960, 1961), tailback James Mayberry (1977, 1978), quarterback Darian Hagan (1989, 1991) and receiver Rae Carruth (1995, 1996) as multiple recipients of CU's team MVP honor.
One of 12 members of CU's leadership council (equivalent to a team captain), he had 89 receptions for 1,053 yards and four touchdowns, just the third player to record a pair of 1,000-yard receiving seasons in school history. He set 41 career, season and/or single-game Colorado records, all but two in receiving categories, including the big three as a pass-catcher: career marks in receptions (294), yards (3,347) and touchdowns (23). The 294 catches are also the most by any player in Pac-12 Conference history, and his 19 receptions against California his junior season are both CU and Pac-12 records.
He was named second-team All-Pac-12 by the league coaches earlier this week.
Spruce also claimed the Dean Jacob Van Ek Award for academic achievement, as he will graduate later this month with a degree in Business, with emphasis in both Finance and Management; he currently owns a 3.64 grade point average and was named a second-team Academic All-American this past Thursday.
With Spruce claiming the MVP honor, the coaches gave the nod, also for the second straight year, for the John Mack Award for the most outstanding player on offense to junior quarterback Sefo Liufau. He now holds almost 60 school single game, season or career records, despite his season being cut short by almost three full games due to a foot injury. He completed 214-of-344 passes for 2,418 yards, with nine touchdowns to six interceptions; over the course of the season, he set CU career marks for pass completions (688) and total offense (7,842 yards), and is within striking distance of passing yards and touchdowns. He is just the fifth player at CU to record at least two 2,000-yard passing seasons, and he also set the school mark for the lowest interception percentage for a single season with 250 or more attempts, just 1.7 percent.
The team's Dave Jones Award for the outstanding defensive player was presented to junior Chidobe Awuzie, who named second-team All-Pac-12 by the league coaches this past week. He finished second on the team in tackles with 90, including a team-high 78 solo. He had a monster year overall, leading the team in tackles for loss with 13, including four quarterback sacks, the most in a season by defensive back at CU. He also led the Buffs in tackles for zero gain, giving him a team-high 21 at or behind the line of scrimmage. He had 10 third down stops and 10 passes broken up, both second on the squad, and added three touchdown saves, two interceptions, one of which sealed a 17-13 win at Oregon State, three quarterback hurries and a forced fumble. He had seven additional tackles on special teams duty.
Junior linebacker Jaleel Awini claimed the Bill McCartney Award for special teams achievement, as he led the Buffaloes in special team points with 29. He accumulated those in nine different categories, topped by 10 tackles (four solo, three inside-the-20), along with eight knockdown blocks, four first downfield credits that altered the return path negatively for the opponent, a forced fumble, a recovery, a forced fair catch and a touchdown save.
Zack Jordan Award (most valuable player): WR Nelson Spruce
John Mack Award (outstanding offensive players): QB Sefo Liufau
Dave Jones Award (outstanding defensive players): CB Chidobe Awuzie
Bill McCartney Award (special teams achievement): ILB Jaleel Awini
Special Teams Belt Award (coverage unit achievement): S Afolabi Laguda
Lee Willard Award (outstanding freshmen): ILB Rick Gamboa
Dean Jacob Van Ek Award (academic excellence): WR Nelson Spruce
Offensive Scout Player of the Year: C Vincent Arvia
Defensive Scout Player of the Year: OLB Hunter Shaw
Derek Singleton Award (spirit, dedication and enthusiasm): TB Phillip Lindsay
Tyronee "Tiger" Bussey Award (inspiration in the face of physical adversity): S Jered Bell
Tom McMahon Award (great dedication and work ethic): FB Jordan Murphy
Eddie Crowder Award (outstanding leadership): S Jered Bell
Offensive Trench Award: OT Stephane Nembot
Defensive Trench Award: OLB Derek McCartney
Hammer Award (hardest legal hit of the year): TB Phillip Lindsay
Best Interview (selected by team beat media): QB Sefo Liufau