Michigan State Announces Major Athletic Award Winners
June 21, 2010
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Six Michigan State University student-athletes have been recognized for excellence both on the playing field and in the classroom as they have earned the school's highest athletic awards for 2009-10.
The awards include the George Alderton Male and Female Athletes of the Year, the Big Ten Conference Medals of Honor, the Chester Brewer Leadership Award and the Dr. James Feurig Achievement and Service Award. A panel of administrators and head coaches selected the winners.
Junior linebacker Greg Jones (Cincinnati, Ohio) was named the George Alderton Male Athlete of the Year, while senior field hockey midfielder Floor Rijpma (Bunnik, Netherlands) earned George Alderton Female Athlete of the Year honors.
Jones earned consensus first-team All-America honors after leading the Big Ten and ranking third in the nation with 154 tackles, which ranked seventh-best in an MSU single-season. He was the first Spartan to be named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and was the recipient of the Linebacker Trophy (National Linebacker of the Year) by the College Football Performance Awards.
Rijpma, who was also a first-team All-America honoree, was named the West Region Player of the Year and was a unanimous selection for Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year. She ranked first in the conference with 24 goals and led the Spartans to Big Ten regular-season and tournament titles.
Wide receiver and Academic All-American Blair White (Saginaw, Mich.) received the Big Ten Conference Medal of Honor along with women's basketball center Allyssa DeHaan (Grandville, Mich.). The Medal of Honor is presented to a male and female senior student-athlete at each conference institution for outstanding athletic and academic achievement.
In addition, Franklin Gomez (Brandon, Fla.) and Lauren Aitch (Lansing, Mich.) were named the recipients of the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award for Michigan State. One member of each varsity sports team on every campus was chosen by the institution as a Sportsmanship Award honoree and from each university's list, two outstanding Sportsmanship Award winners were then selected.
AWARD - WINNER
GEORGE ALDERTON MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR(Presented to top male athlete of 2009-10)
WINNER: Greg Jones (Football)
During his first two seasons at Michigan State, Greg Jones had already established himself as one of the top linebackers in the Big Ten. He garnered Freshman All-America accolades in 2007 and was a first-team all-conference selection in 2008.
But in 2009, Jones elevated his game to a level that placed him among the nation's elite.
The Cincinnati, Ohio, native led the Big Ten and ranked third in the FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) with 154 tackles, which ranked seventh most in an MSU season. He also ranked fifth in the league with nine sacks (53 yards) and 10th with 14 tackles for loss (69 yards). Perhaps Jones' most impressive trait was his consistency, as he compiled double-figures in tackles in nine games, including matching his career high with 15 against No. 13 Penn State. He became the first Spartan to record back-to-back 100-tackle seasons since 2003-04 when both linebacker Ronald Stanley and free safety Jason Harmon reached the milestone.
Those remarkable numbers landed Jones on the consensus All-America first team and made him the first Spartan to be named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. He was also named first-team All-Big Ten for the second consecutive year, and CollegeFootballNews.com listed Jones as the No. 1 linebacker in the nation and the top overall player in the Big Ten.
In addition, Jones was the recipient of the Linebacker Trophy (National Linebacker of the Year) by the College Football Performance Awards, which is selected exclusively upon objective scientific rankings of the extent to which individual players increase the overall effectiveness of their teams.
Prior to the season, Jones was elected one of four team captains in a vote by his teammates and coaches.
"This awards means a whole lot to me," said Jones. "Just to be mentioned in the same group this year as Franklin Gomez and Brett Swenson is an honor. I'm very humbled by this award when I see who has won it in years past. I'm excited about this and just want to try and win it again next year. I'm extremely motivated for the upcoming season."
"Congratulations to Greg Jones for being recognized as Michigan State's top male athlete of the year," said football head coach Mark Dantonio. "This is another great opportunity for him to be honored for his outstanding season. I think it also shows a tremendous amount of discipline and maturity to come back for his senior year. It points to him as a person and points to this program being on a solid foundation and what we're trying to do for our players."
Jones has started 33 of 39 career games, including 27 consecutive starting assignments. He has 359 career tackles, including 36.5 for losses (140 yards) and 15.5 sacks (87 yards). Jones will enter the 2010 season ranked second among NCAA FBS active leaders in tackles per game (9.2 avg.) and total tackles (359). He already ranks among MSU's all-time leaders in tackles for loss (fifth), sacks (tied for sixth) and total tackles (eighth). Jones has produced double-figure tackles 18 times in his career.
PAST WINNERS - ALDERTON MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR:
GEORGE ALDERTON FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR(Presented to top female athlete of 2009-10)
WINNER: Floor Rijpma (Field Hockey)
A four-year letterwinner in field hockey, Floor Rijpma helped her team to three consecutive NCAA Tournament bids, and trips to the regional finals in both 2008 and 2009. She also helped guide MSU to an undefeated Big Ten regular season en route to winning its first-ever outright Big Ten regular-season championship. The Spartans also won the Big Ten Tournament for the third time in program annals, becoming just the second team in Big Ten history to finish the regular season undefeated and also win the Big Ten Tournament.
"I'm thrilled for Floor that she has received this much-deserved recognition, and as a program, we're honored that the committee has chosen her to receive the award," said field hockey head coach Rolf van de Kerkhof. "Floor has played an intregal part of helping MSU be a mainstay in the Top 10 nationally over the course of her career. She is a fierce competitor, and has always worked feverishly at whatever necessary to be the best. I think you can see the results of that tireless work with the senior season she put together, both individually and from a team standpoint. Having a player of that caliber wearing your team's jersey is a huge benefit, and we certainly benefited from Floor choosing to play field hockey at Michigan State."
Rijpma finished her distinguished career as a three-time NFHCA All-American, twice earning first-team honors. She was just the fourth player in school history to earn first-team All-America honors, and is the only Spartan to twice be named to the first team. Rijpma, along with Rayna Hiscox (a three-time third-team selection) and classmate Jeamie Deacon (a three-time second-team pick), comprise the trio of MSU's three-time All-Americans. Rijpma was also honored after her senior season as the NFHCA West Region Player of the Year. By virtue of that award, Rijpma was one of four players nominated for the Honda Sports Award, which is given annually to the top women athletes in 12 NCAA-sanctioned sports.
Rijpma was the offensive leader for the Spartans in 2009, leading the team with 52 points on a team-leading 24 goals and four assists. Four times during the season she was selected as the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week, a distinction she earned just once in her first three seasons. The unanimous Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and first-team All-Big Ten selection finished Big Ten regular-season play as the league's leading goal scorer (10) and point getter (20) in conference games for the second consecutive season. Additionally, Rijpma recorded four hat tricks on the season (vs. American, vs. Northwestern, at Penn State and vs. Delaware) and added a team-leading eight game-winning goals.
Rijpma finished her Spartan career as one of the most prolific scorers in program history, ranking third all-time in points (138) and goals (60) at MSU. Her five career hat tricks is second all-time at MSU, as are the four she recorded in a single season. Rijpma's 52 points in her final season ranks fourth-best in a single season in the MSU annals, as does the 24 goals she recorded over the course of the season.
Overall in her career, Rijpma was always among her team's top-three scorers, earned both All-Big Ten and Academic All-Big Ten distinction three times, and was featured in the "Faces of the Big Ten" campaign on the Big Ten Network.
PAST WINNERS - ALDERTON FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR:
BIG TEN CONFERENCE MEDAL OF HONOR(Presented to a male and female student-athlete at each conference institution for outstanding athletic and academic achievement)
MALE WINNER: Blair White (Football)
Blair White arrived at Michigan State as a walk-on just trying to survive on the football team. He left as an Academic All-American and a first-team All-Big Ten wide receiver.
White is a testament to perseverance and endurance, proving how successful a student-athlete can be with enough hard work and dedication.
By the time he reached his junior year on the playing field, White blossomed into MSU's top receiver. As a senior in 2009, he was one of the top receivers in the Big Ten, leading the Spartans in receptions (70), receiving yards (990) and touchdown catches (9). A first-team All-Big Ten selection by the coaches, White ranked among the conference leaders in TD receptions (tied first), receiving yards (third at 76.2 per game) and receptions (third at 5.4 per game). His 70 catches (second), nine TD receptions (fourth) and 990 receiving yards (seventh) rank among the Top 10 single-season totals in Michigan State history.
A four-time Academic All-Big Ten selection, White graduated in May 2009 with a 3.89 grade-point average in human biology. He was named to the 2009 ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America First Team, as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). White became MSU's first Academic All-American since Stanton and center Chris Morris earned second-team honors in 2005 and the program's first first-team selection since safety Steve Wasylk in 1993. He began pursuing a second bachelor's degree in interdisciplinary studies in social science - human resources last fall. Prior to the 2009 season, White was accepted into the University of Detroit Mercy's School of Dentistry.
White was also presented the President's Award at the MSU Academic Gala, given to a male and female graduating senior with the highest cumulative grade-point average, and was named to the National Football Foundation's 2010 Hampshire Honor Society.
White finished his career ranked among MSU's all-time leaders in receptions (12th with 116), TD receptions (15th with 10) and receiving yards (16th with 1,674). He caught at least one pass in 24 consecutive games.
"This is a well deserved honor for Blair," said football head coach Mark Dantonio. "He had a presence of commitment during his career at Michigan State and it showed in everything that he was asked to do here as a student-athlete: in the classroom, on the field and in the community. He had always achieved at a high level in the academic arena, and as a senior, he elevated his game and competed at an All-Big Ten level."
PAST WINNERS - BIG TEN CONFERENCE MEDAL OF HONOR MALE WINNERS:
FEMALE WINNER: Allyssa DeHaan (Women's Basketball)
Allyssa DeHaan became the fifth women's basketball All-American this season, earning honorable mention recognition from The Associated Press. A four-time All-Big Ten selection, she earned second-team honors this season for the third time in her prestigious career.
DeHaan also was the first MSU player to be named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and was the first Big Ten player to be a four-time selection to the conference's all-defensive team. Overall in 2009-10, DeHaan led the Spartans with 10.6 points and 3.1 blocks, and was second with 5.8 rebounds. She was also sixth in the conference with a team-best 82.7 free-throw percentage.
For her career, DeHaan ranks fourth all-time at Michigan State with 1,649 points and 919 rebounds, becoming only one of three Spartans to rank in the top-five in both categories. During her senior season, DeHaan broke the NCAA Division I blocked shots record and ended her career second all-time with 503. She also set the Michigan State games played record with 136 and ended up third at MSU with 128 starts.
DeHaan, a three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection, is set to graduate in December 2010 with a degree in human biology, having posted a cumulative GPA of 3.43.
"Allyssa has been a tremendous representative of the Michigan State women's basketball program, both on and off the court, during her four-year career," said women's basketball head coach Suzy Merchant. "She embodied the true definition of a student-athlete, excelling at the highest levels athletically, as well as pushing herself in the classroom and in the community."
PAST WINNERS - BIG TEN CONFERENCE MEDAL OF HONOR FEMALE WINNERS:
CHESTER BREWER LEADERSHIP AWARD(Presented to a graduating senior in his or her last year of eligibility for distinguished performance in athletics and scholarship and for possessing a high degree of leadership qualities and skill.)
WINNER: Kelly Moffitt (Gymnastics)
From the moment Kelly Moffitt stepped foot on the campus of MSU, she has exceeded all expectations in both her leadership and academic accomplishments.
Moffitt graduated from MSU this spring with a degree in supply chain management. She has been named to the Dean's List every semester while at Michigan State, and is a four-time NACGC/W Academic All-America recipient and three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree. The three-year letterwinner has been named a Top Scholar-Athlete at the Spartan Academic Excellence Gala twice.
Prior to her senior year, Moffitt traveled to the 2009 National Student-Athlete Development Conference to serve as MSU's representative at the event which welcomed nearly 600 of the nation's top student-athlete leaders. Following her trip to Orlando, Fla., for the convention, Moffitt chaired the Big Ten Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) meetings at the Big Ten headquarters. Her senior year saw her serve as the MSU SAAC President, an Athletics Council member and MSU's Big Ten SAAC Representative.
In the community, Moffitt has made the most of her time donning the Green and White. Moffitt has taken part in both the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer and the Teams for Toys all four years at Michigan State. Multiple years has she also spent time with the pen pal program, the Children's Miracle Network Telethon and Golf Fundraiser, Area 8 Special Olympics and March is Reading Month.
"Kelly has been more involved with outreach programs than any other student-athlete I have coached at MSU," said gymnastics head coach Kathie Klages. "She is a bright and caring individual, and although she has struggled with various injuries throughout her career, Kelly has been a great ambassador for both the gymnastics program and Michigan State University to the area community."
The Flora, Ind., native, also made a solid contribution to the gymnastics team. Moffitt tallied career highs of 9.825 on the vault, 9.725 on the bars, 9.875 on the beam and 9.850 on the floor. This season's bests included a 9.800 on the floor in the opening meet of the year and a 9.700 on the beam against Illinois.
Next fall, Moffitt will serve as a graduate assistant/assistant tutorial coordinator in Student-Athlete Support Services, located in the Clara Bell Smith Student-Athlete Academic Center. Moffitt will be working toward a double major in sports administration and human resources and labor relations.
"It's a complete honor to be recognized with such a prestigious award," said Moffitt. "I am so grateful to those who have provided me support along the way to help me achieve all of my goals. I couldn't have done it without all of their support over the past four years."
PAST WINNERS - CHESTER BREWER LEADERSHIP AWARD:
DR. JAMES FEURIG ACHIEVEMENT & SERVICE AWARD(Presented to a male or female graduating senior involved in athletics as a competitor or in a supporting role. The recipient should carry a minimum grade-point average of 3.0 or better, and in addition to athletic and academic success, demonstrate involvement in school/campus and community activities.)
WINNER: Ross Weaver (Football)
Ross Weaver loved being a student-athlete - and knew the responsibilities that came with it. Not only a four-year letterwinner on the football field, Weaver also excelled in the classroom, earning his degree in mechanical engineering at Michigan State University's spring commencement in 2010.
He was equally active in the community, as he was named the recipient of the Multicultural Award at MSU's Student-Athlete Support Service's Academic Gala. Weaver showed an outstanding commitment to the multicultural program as well as the overall mission of student-athlete development.
While tackling his demanding major, Weaver always made time to reach out to children in the community, mentoring them about the importance of academics and sportsmanship. He involved himself in a variety of outreach activities while also serving as a leader and role model to other student-athletes. His vision and leadership on important student-athlete issues helped to greatly further the initiatives of the Multicultural Advisory Committee.
Weaver played as a true freshman and showed persistance after suffering an ankle injury that knocked him out his sophomore year. He bounced back and went on to play in 41 career games with 17 starts, and was named a team captain his senior year.
In his final collegiate game in the 2010 Valero Alamo Bowl, Weaver perhaps gave his best performance as a Spartan, compiling a career-high nine tackles, forcing a fumble on the opening kickoff of the second half, and recording his second career interception with a pick in the fourth quarter. "Ross Weaver is a tremendous person and will be an asset to any community he lives in," said football head coach Mark Dantonio. "He was elected captain for us last year which gave him a bigger platform for his leadership skills. Ross has done anything and everything asked of him in the three years that I've been here. He has a great sense of faith and is about helping people. He's a young man that carries himself well off the field and we're very, very proud of him."
FEURIG ACHIEVEMENT & SERVICE AWARD PAST WINNERS:
BIG TEN SPORTSMANSHIP AWARD(One member of each varsity sports team on every campus was chosen by the institution as a Sportsmanship Award honoree and from each university's list, two outstanding Sportsmanship Award winners were then selected. All of the Sportsmanship Award honorees have distinguished themselves through sportsmanship and ethical behavior. In addition, these student-athletes must be in good academic standing and must have demonstrated good citizenship outside of the sports-competition setting.)
MALE WINNER: Franklin Gomez (Wrestling)
One of the greatest wrestlers in program history, Franklin Gomez ended his illustrious career with an all-time record of 119-15. Gomez's career was solidified after he captured the NCAA Championship at 133 pounds in 2009. Along with his national title, Gomez also tallied third-place finishes at both the 2008 and 2010 NCAA Championships.
"Franklin has been one of the best athletes I've ever coached here at Michigan State," said wrestling head coach Tom Minkel. "He is at the very, very top of the list of our great wrestlers here. He was a terrific young man both in the classroom and on the mat, and we have been enormously fortunate to have him in our program."
Gomez was a three-time All-American after his performances at the 2008, 2009 and 2010 NCAA Championships. The two-time Big Ten Champion at 133 pounds etched his name in school history as he is ranked fourth all-time with 15 NCAA Tournament wins in his three NCAA Championships appearances.
Throughout all of his wins and losses, Gomez always shook the hand of his opposition and the opposing coaches at the conclusion of each match to show great sportsmanship.
Gomez also excelled in the classroom as this year marked the third consecutive year Gomez was named to the NWCA All-Academic Team.
FEMALE WINNER: Lauren Aitch (Women's Basketball)
A quad-captain on this year's women's basketball team, Lauren Aitch overcame multiple hardships throughout her five years at MSU - including the death of her father, losing her head coach and tearing her ACL within months of each other - but used each of those setbacks to grow as a person and a leader. During her time in Green and White, she has become someone that her teammates, fans and community have looked up to and admired.
In addition, Aitch played behind one of the best players in MSU history for three of her seasons, accepting the role as the first player off the bench. Despite playing only 15.0 minutes per game in her career, she finished with 832 points (6.2 ppg) and 465 rebounds (3.4 rpg). A durable post player, Aitch appeared in the second-most games in Michigan State history with 135.
In 2009-10, Aitch was fifth on the team with 7.3 points and third with 4.0 rebounds in 17.0 minutes. She was also second on the team with a 46.6 field-goal percentage, a category she led the team as a sophomore and junior.
Having already completed her degree in advertising in May 2009, she is working toward her master's degree in public relations. This season, she earned Academic All-Big Ten honors.