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December 7, 2011
The 2011 season is over, other than a few practices and the Independence Bowl. PowerMizzou.com takes a look back at some of the highs, the lows and the major storylines.
Offensive Player of the Year: Got to be Henry Josey. From third string to (presumably) all-Big 12. Josey ran for more than 1,100 yards and nine touchdowns before a season-ending knee injury in the Texas game. He was on pace, before the injury, to threaten Missouri's single-season rushing record. Runner-Up: Jayson Palmgren.
Defensive Player of the Year: We are going to go with Luke Lambert, who finally showed what he could do when he was healthy. Lambert had 74 tackles, including a team-high 11.5 for a loss. He recovered three fumbles, intercepted a pass and had a stellar senior season. Runner-Up: E.J. Gaines.
Special Teams Player of the Year: This is more of a feel award because I don't have any stats on special teams. But I have to go with Donovan Bonner, who always seemed to be one of the first Tigers down the field in coverage and forced two fumbles against Kansas. Runner-Up: Trey Barrow.
Clutch Performer: For his five fourth-quarter touchdown catches, this goes to Marcus Lucas. Lucas iced the season-opener against Miami-OH with a fourth quarter TD and did the same against Kansas in the final game. In between, he grabbed the game winner at Texas A&M. For the season, Lucas caught 23 passes for 414 yards and five touchdowns. All were in the fourth quarter or overtime. Runner-Up: James Franklin.
Next Offensive Star: This is for a player who played a bit part this year but could be ready to break out in 2012. We'll go with L'Damian Washington. Washington caught just 17 passes, but had three touchdowns and averaged a team-high 18.6 yards per catch. Surely, he would like nothing more than to kick-start next season with a breakout performance in his home town in the Independence Bowl. Runner-Up: Lucas
Next Defensive Star: It wasn't the instant impact all-Big 12 and head off to the NFL season some had convinced themselves they'd see, but Sheldon Richardson showed plenty of glimpses why he was a top-five player in the nation coming out of high school. Richardson had 35 tackles, including 7.5 for a loss. Both marks were second among defensive linemen. There were quite a few times where he looked like a future star. Runner-Up: Randy Ponder
Play of the Year: For me, this one was pretty easy. The season turned on one play in week two. Missouri had erased a two-touchdown deficit, Josey had ripped off a long run and Missouri was in position to snatch a win at Arizona State that had seemed beyond unlikely just a few minutes before. But Grant Ressel missed on a 48-yard kick that would have moved the Tigers to 2-and-0. Mizzou lost the game in overtime and would not win back-to-back contests for the first time until the season's 11th week. How different does the season look if that kick goes in? Maybe quite a bit.
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