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OTE Awards: Big Ten Football 2019 Freshmen Of The Year

NCAA Football: Purdue at Penn State John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

What, did you think we were done giving out trophies?

Most places only give one single award to the Big Ten Freshman of the Year.

Not Off Tackle Empire. We care enough about the future of our conference to give an offensive AND a defensive player credit. We also know it takes experience to be an elite special teamer, so we stopped at two.

Arthur MacArthur Jr. Trophy for Offensive Freshman of the Year

This award takes its name from Arthur MacArthur Jr, who joined the Union army as a teenager and made a name for himself at the Battle of Missionary Ridge, planting the 24th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiment flag upon the ridge and shouting “ON WISCONSIN!” His rallying cry is the inspiration for Wisconsin’s fight song. True story. He was then known as the Boy Colonel after being promoted to colonel the following year at the age of 19.

Also Receiving Votes: Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa Hawkeyes; Nico Ragaini, Iowa; Tyron Tracy, Iowa

5th Place: Wandale Robinson, RB/WR, Nebraska Cornhuskers (16 pts)

Playing in only 10 games, Wandale produced 793 yards from scrimmage, roughly splitting them between rushing and receiving

4th Place: Noah Cain, RB, Penn State Nittany Lions (21 pts)

Cain managed 5.1 yards per carry and 351 yards and 6 touchdowns in 9 games of action, but carried the day for Penn State against Iowa, going 102 yards on 22 carries with a touchdown.

3rd Place: Matthew Bedford, OT, Indiana Hoosiers (26 pts)

When veteran Coy Cronk went down with a season-ending injury early, Indiana turned to a true freshman offensive tackle in the Big Ten. Bedford was up to the challenge, starting the rest of the way.

2nd place: Tyler Goodson, RB, Iowa (37 pts)

The only thing holding back Tyler Goodson is Kirk Ferentz at this point. The true freshman still managed to get 116 carries for 590 yards, but added 146 yards on 21 receptions. In theory, he should be a big part of Iowa’s offense going forward if spared the wrath of AIRBHG.

And the winner of the Arthur MacArthur Jr. Trophy for Big Ten Offensive Freshman of the Year, by unanimous decision (70 points, 14 first place votes), is Purdue Boilermakers receiver David Bell!

NCAA Football: Illinois at Purdue Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

This one was a no-brainer. In Rondale Moore’s absence, Bell led the Big Ten with 86 receptions. Let there be no doubt that Purdue has some serious talent at the offensive skill positions. Bell broke 1,000 yards as a true freshman, scoring 7 times (plus one more on the ground). It’s the most impressive performance by a freshman receiver since...last year’s performance by a Purdue freshman receiver.

The Johnny Shiloh Trophy for Defensive Freshman of the Year

This award takes its name from a man named John Clem, who became a drummer for the Union army at the age of ten at the outbreak of the Civil War. This award is for people who are TOO YOUNG to play THAT WELL in the BIG TEN.

Also Receiving Votes: Lance Dixon, LB, Penn State

5th Place: Keeanu Benton, NT, Wisconsin Badgers (10 pts)

This big boi played 8 games and managed 4 TFL’s in that time at the beefiest of defensive positions.

4th Place: Devon Witherspoon, DB/ST, Illinois Fighting Illini (11 pts)

Witherspoon was added as a corner to Illinois’ 2019 class in August. I don’t know how this worked out, but work out it did. He played 11 games, mostly on special teams, racking up 28 tackles. He did get regular reps at corner, famously running down Kendric Pryor after getting beat on a slant in the red zone for a touchdown-saving tackle in the fourth quarter of the Wisconsin upset victory.

3rd Place: Dane Belton, DB, Iowa (23 pts)

Belton played in 7 games, six against the Big Ten, as a rotation defensive back and totaled 27 tackles.

2nd Place: Tiawan Mullen, DB, Indiana (46 pts, 2 FPV)

Mullen totaled 21 solo tackles (24 total) across nine games, forced and recovered two fumbles, and led the Big Ten with 12 passes defended

And the winner of the 2019 Johnny Shiloh trophy for excellent Big Ten football defensive play is...Purdue DE George Karlaftis! (54 pts, 9 FPV)

NCAA Football: Maryland at Purdue Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

The West Lafayette native was an immediate impact player, starting all 12 games and collecting 17 TFLs, good for third in the Big Ten. 54 tackles, 7.5 sacks, 2 passes defended, 2 fumble recoveries and 1 forced fumble are great numbers for a Big Ten defensive end of any year. Karlaftis has four more years to play three.

Check out the rest of the awards schedule: