IOWA CITY, Iowa — University of Iowa junior center Tyler Linderbaum and junior defensive tackle Daviyon Nixon were named Roy J. Carver Most Valuable Players as the Iowa football program announced its 2020 team awards with a virtual ceremony Thursday.
Linderbaum (Solon, Iowa) has started all 21 games over the past two seasons as the Hawkeyes have posted a 16-5 record. Iowa averaged 31.8 points and 368.6 yards total offense in eight games in 2021, posting a 6-2 record while winning its final six games. Linderbaum heads into his senior season in 2021 having started all 21 games over the past two seasons.
Nixon (Kenosha, Wis.) started all eight games at defensive tackle in 2020. He earned consensus All-America honors after leading the Big Ten Conference in tackles for loss (13) and total tackles (45) among defensive linemen. He was named the Nagurski-Woodson Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and the Smith-Brown Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year. Nixon was one of three finalists for the Outland Trophy and one of five finalists for the Bronko Nagurski Award. Nixon has declared for the 2021 NFL Draft.
Five team captains for the 2021 season were announced; Linderbaum and senior running back Mekhi Sargent on offense, senior end Chauncey Golston and senior linebacker Nick Niemann on defense, and senior kicker Keith Duncan for special teams play. Linderbaum was recognized with the Iron Hawk Award.
Sargent (Key West, Fla.) was second on the team in rushing yards (76-432) and shared the team lead with seven touchdowns. Sargent ranks 20th in career rushing yards (1,740) in three seasons. He is one of 11 players to rush for as many as 20 career touchdowns and he is tied for 26th in career scoring. Sargent participated in the Hula Bowl at the end of the season and was named his teams offensive MVP in that contest.
Golston (Detroit) was a first-team All-Big Ten selection by coaches and media. He earned honorable mention recognition and was a semifinalist for the Lott IMPACT Trophy. The He started every game over the past two seasons and participated in the Senior Bowl following the season.
Niemann (Sycamore, Ill.) rotated at the linebacker positions throughout his career. He earned third-team All-Big Ten honors in 2021 after leading Iowa with 77 tackles in eight games. The four-year letterman completed his career with 157 career tackles.
Duncan (Weddington, N.C.) led the Big Ten in field goals per game, making 14-18 attempts on the season. He earned second-team All-Big Ten honors (Associated Press) after earning consensus All-America honors as a junior. Duncan set an Iowa record with 20 career field goals of 40 yards or more and ranks fourth in career field goals (52) and sixth in career scoring (252).
Duncan, Golston, Linderbaum, and Niemann were honored with the Hayden Fry Award, which is presented to team members who show exemplary leadership and dedication throughout the year.
The Reggie Roby Special Teams Award was shared by Duncan and freshman punter Tory Taylor as specialists, while sophomore defensive back Terry Roberts was recognized for his overall play. Taylor (Melbourne, Australia) had never been to a college football game before punting in Iowa’s opening contest at Purdue. Taylor earned first-team All-Big Ten honors and was named the Eddleman-Fields Big Ten Punter of the Year after averaging 44.1 yards per punt. He was named by the Football Writers Association of American as a first-team Freshman All-American.
Roberts (Erie, Pa.) made his mark on special teams coverage. He ranked fourth in the Big Ten and 11th national with two recovered fumbles, both coming on punt coverage.
Duncan also received the Forest Evashevski Academic Achievement Award, and the Brett Greenwood Award, which honors the former Hawkeye defensive back. Duncan was named to the Dean’s List in 2018 and 2019.
Established in 2011, the Greenwood Award also honors former Hawkeyes, one year at a time, for each season Kirk Ferentz has coached the Hawkeyes. Former center Rob Bruggeman (2007-08) and former linebacker Gavin McGrath (2007-08) were recognized as the former players.
Senior offensive lineman Cole Banwart and junior defensive back Jack Koerner shared Comeback Player of the Year honors. Banwart (Ottosen, Iowa) saw action in just three games in 2019 due to different injuries. He responded by starting all eight games in 2020, playing both right and left guard for an Iowa offense that scored 26 or more points in every game of the six-game winning streak.
Koerner (Des Moines, Iowa) started all eight games at free safety, earning second-team All-Big Ten honors. His three interceptions ranked sixth in the Big Ten and he tied for third on the team with 45 tackles.
Three Hawkeyes earned the Next Man In Award; sophomore lineman Jack Plumb on offense, senior linebacker Barrington Wade on defense, and linebacker Kyler Fisher on special teams. Plumb, (Green Bay, Wis.) saw action in six games, starting the final two games of the season at right tackle as the Hawkeyes defeated Illinois and Wisconsin. Wade (Skokie, Ill.) saw action in all eight games, with three starts at outside linebacker. He collected 12 tackles and tied for second on the team with two interceptions. Fisher, (Farnhamville, Iowa) was a contributor on special teams, recording two tackles in seven games.
Coaches Appreciation Award recipients were senior tight end Shaun Beyer, Sargent and senior offensive lineman Alaric Jackson on offense, seniors defensive back Matt Hankins, tackle Jack Heflin and tackle Austin Schulte on defense, and special teams contributors Caleb Shudak, Marchese, Sargent, and Turner Pallissard.
Beyer (Shellsburg, Iowa) recorded 11 receptions for 158 yards and a touchdown. Jackson (Detroit) started all eight games at left tackle. He had 42 career starts at that position and earned second-team All-America and first-team All-Big Ten honors.
Hankins (Lewisville, Texas) earned his fourth letter while starting every game at cornerback. Hankins will return for a fifth season after recording 41 tackles a year ago. Heflin (Prophetstown, Illinois) joined the program as a graduate transfer and recorded 21 tackles while starting all eight games. He joined Sargent in the Hula Bowl following the season. Schulte (Pella, Iowa) suffered a major injury prior to the start of the season and saw limited action near the end of the campaign.
Shudak (Council Bluffs, Iowa) will also return next season. He has handled all kickoff duties over the past two years. Sargent contributed on special teams along with his offensive production, and Marchese (Vernon Hills, Illinois) has contributed on special teams throughout his career. Pallissard (Frankfort, Illinois) contributed to the offense as a fullback along with his special team duties.
Team Hustle Awards went to sophomore tight end Sam LaPorta, sophomore fullback Monte Pottebaum, and sophomore wide receiver Nico Ragaini on offense, Koerner and senior defensive end Zach VanValkenburg on defense, and Pottebaum, junior running back Ivory Kelly-Martin, and junior wide receiver Charlie Jones on special teams.
LaPorta played in all eight games with five starts, earning honorable mention All-Big Ten honors. He led the team with 27 receptions, good for 271 yards and a touchdown. Pottebaum started three games while seeing action in all eight games. He averaged 13 yards on three receptions and also contributed on special teams. Ragaini (East Have, Conn.) recorded 18 receptions for 191 yards. VanValkenburg earned second-team All-Big Ten honors while starting every game. He tied for first in the nation with four fumble recoveries and recorded 8.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. He will return for another season in 2021.
Kelly-Martin contributed at running back and on special teams before injury forced him to miss the final game. Jones handled punt return duties throughout the season, averaging 10.5 yards on 21. Returns. He had a 54-yard touchdown return in a win over Michigan State. Jones led the Big Ten and ranked 11th nationally with his return average, earning second-team All-Big Ten honors.
Team Leader Awards were presented to redshirt freshman tight end Jackson Frericks (Cedar Falls, Iowa), and freshman wide receiver Isaiah Wagner (Pleasant Hill, Iowa) on offense, sophomore defensive back Dallas Craddieth (St. Louis, Mo.) and redshirt freshman Louis Stec LaGrange, Park, Ill.) on defense, and freshman defensive back Brandan Deasfernandes (Belleville, Mich.), and redshirt freshman Thomas Hartlieb (Madison, Wis.) on special teams. The Team Leader Award recognizes players for their weekly scout team contributions.
The Bump Elliott Appreciation Award was presented to members of the football program medical staff. Those honored include Dr. Andy Peterson, primary care team physician, Kammy Powell, head football athletic trainer, Sara Smith, assistant athletic trainer, Cole Reese, assistant athletic trainer, and Tony Berger, assistant athletic trainer.
The 2018 Distinguished Service Award was presented to former office assistant Amy Thomas. Thomas began her career at Iowa as a wrestling student assistant in 1977. She began her career with the football program in 1979 and was a member of the staff until her recent retirement on Feb. 1.
Iowa posted a 6-2 record in 2020, winning six straight games to close the season. The Hawkeyes, who were scheduled to appear in the 2020 Music City Bowl prior to that event being canceled, were ranked 15th in the final CFP rankings and final coaches poll, and 16th in the final Associated Press rankings.
Iowa will open the 2021 season Sept. 4 in Kinnick Stadium, hosting Big Ten foe Indiana in the first of seven home contests. Season ticket renewals and new season ticket orders are now being accepted at hawkeyesports.com/FootballTickets.
Here are the Award winners:
Forest Evashevski Academic Achievement: Keith Duncan
Iron Hawk Award: Tyler Linderbaum
Roy Carver Most Valuable Players: Tyler Linderbaum, offense
Daviyon Nixon, defense
Permanent Team Captains: Keith Duncan, special teams
Chauncey Golston, defense
Tyler Linderbaum, offense
Nick Niemann, defense
Mekhi Sargent, offense
Hayden Fry Award: Keith Duncan, K
Chauncey Golston, DE
Tyler Linderbaum, OL
Nick Niemann, LB
Reggie Roby Special Teams Award: Keith Duncan, specialist
Tory Taylor, specialist
Terry Roberts, overall
Team Leader Award: Jackson Frericks, offense
Isaiah Wagner, offense
Dallas Craddieth, defense
Louis Stec, defense
Brendan Deasfernandes, special teams
Thomas Hartlieb, special teams
Brett Greenwood Award: Keith Duncan
Former Player: Rob Bruggeman (2007-08)
Gavin McGrath (2007-08)
Comeback Player of the Year: Cole Banwart, offense
Jack Koerner, defense
Coaches Appreciation Award: Shaun Beyer, offense
Alaric Jackson, offense
Mekhi Sargent, offense
Matt Hankins, defense
Jack Heflin, defense
Austin Schulte, defense
Henry Marchese, special teams
Mekhi Sargent, special teams
Turner Pallissard, special teams
Caleb Shudak, special teams
Team Hustle Award: Sam LaPorta, offense
Monte Pottebaum, offense
Nico Ragaini, offense
Jack Koerner, defense
Zach VanValkenburg, defense
Charlie Jones, special teams
Ivory Kelly-Martin, special teams
Monte Pottebaum, special teams
Next Man In Award: Kyler Fisher, special teams
Jack Plumb, offense
Barrington Wade, defense