Michigan capped its 2014 season and the Brady Hoke era at its annual awards banquet Tuesday night. Hoke and most of his staff members were on hand, along with approximately 900 other onlookers to honor the Wolverines players.
Hoke, who was fired by Michigan last Tuesday, said he wanted to keep the focus of Monday’s night ceremony on the team’s senior class.
“This football team showed great resiliency throughout a season that saw many external distractions,” he said from the dais. “I’m very proud of them and very proud of what the coaching staff did."
Interim athletic director Jim Hackett and university president Mark Schlissel also spoke. No one from the university answered questions from the media following the event.
All 12 of Michigan’s outgoing seniors thanked Hoke for pushing them and caring for them. Several spoke emotionally about the way their erstwhile head coach cared for them and their teammates.
Fifth-year senior Jake Ryan won the team’s most valuable player award and two others on his final night with the Michigan football program. Ryan made 112 tackles this season after moving to middle linebacker. He is finalist for the Butkus Award, given to the country’s top linebacker. He was also retroactively named a team captain Monday night.
Hoke opted not to name official captains at the start of the 2014 season because he felt that caused some teams to feel entitled in the past. He met with the team last Tuesday to tell them he wouldn’t be returning in 2015. He told them at that time that Ryan and quarterback Devin Gardner would be honored as this season’s two captains.
Bo Schembechler MVP: Linebacker Jake Ryan
Ryan: “It’s an honor. I just want to thank my teammates. I’ve learned so much from them, and I hope they’ve learned a little from me.”
Dr. Arthur Robinson Scholarship Award (leading senior scholar): Offensive lineman Joey Burzynski
Burzynski: “After my first exams I called home to tell them I got an A-, and my mom said, ‘Careful, those A- will catch up to you.’”
Hugh R. Rader Memorial Award (best offensive lineman): Center Jack Miller
Miller: “I share this award with everyone on the offensive line, probably the most improved group on the team this season.”
Roger Zatkoff Award (best linebacker): Ryan
Robert P. Ufer Bequest (team spirit): Defensive end Brennen Beyer
Beyer: “This season was full of trials of all kinds ... This year more than any other I grew as a leader, teammate and a man.”
Richard Katcher Award (best defensive lineman): Beyer
Captains Award: Gardner and Ryan
Gardner: “I stayed, and I will the rest of my life as a champion.”