NEW YORK – At the final gathering of the 2007 team, Norries Wilson, Columbia's Patricia and Shepard Alexander Head Coach of Football, announced the Lions' 2007 season award-winners during the team dinner in Low Library Rotunda, Sunday, December 9.
To the surprise of few, sophomore Austin Knowlin was named the winner of the Most Valuable Offensive Player and The Sid Luckman Most Valuable Player Award. The first-team All-Ivy League wide receiver finished 12 yards shy of a school single-season receiving yards record; he racked up 988 this fall.
"He presented problems for every team we played," Wilson said of Knowlin. "He is a very good player who has the opportunity to be a great one. With Austin, it's not about Austin – It's about the team. No one wants to win more than he."
Wilson noted that the team had high hopes entering the season, and a 1-9 record did not represent what it aspired to achieve. "However, to the credit of the players of Columbia University, they came out every week to win football games. I am proud of each one of them for finishing what they started."
Ninety-eight student-athletes began practice this fall on the Lions' roster, and every one of those team members remains on the squad. Wilson spoke highly of senior Ryan Mettee, who planned to return to the team this fall but injuries prevented him from playing.
The evening featured a guest appearance from former Lion and Washington Redskins offensive lineman George Starke '71CC, who reminded them team, "Being athletes gives us dimensions that other people don't have." A member of the Super Bowl XVII champions, he added "It's always good to win, and you have got the right coach, so that will take care of itself."
Each of the three captains spoke. Senior Craig Hormann, who received a football recognizing his achievement as the Lions' No. 2 all-time leading passer, said: I enjoyed it. I learned a lot. The future is bright, and I want to be a part of it."
Junior Drew Quinn added: "I'd like to offer a special thank-you to the seniors. I look forward to another season with the rest of the guys. We're going to have some success."
Senior JoJo Smith said, "It was an honor to lead you guys."
The team highlight video, featuring the camera work and production of former Columbia Basketball standout Joe Case '02CC, was unveiled. The 10-minute featured included clips from the season, shots of the lockerroom pregame addresses from Wilson, and thoughts from the seniors.
2007 Columbia Lions Varsity Football Awards
Phil Fusco Award: JoJo Smith (Sr., CB)
Maniatty-Remmer Unsung Hero Award: Thomas Weldon (Sr., FB)
John J. Cirigliano Ironman Award: Craig Hormann (Sr., QB)
Lou Little Coaches Most Improved Award: Mike Partain (Sr., C)
Ken Germann Freshman Award: Alex Gross (Fr., LB)
Special Forces Award: Jon Rocholl (Jr., P/K)
Most Valuable Offense: Austin Knowlin (So., WR)
Most Valuable Defense: Phil Mitchell (Jr., DE)
Sid Luckman Most Valuable Player Award: Austin Knowlin (So., WR)