Ohio State#039;s Smith, Michigan#039;s Perry get top Big Ten awards

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 26, 2003

PARK RIDGE, Ill. - Michigan running back Chris Perry was named the Big Ten offensive player of the year Tuesday, and Ohio State defensive end Will Smith took defensive honors.

Michigan State coach John L. Smith was named conference coach of the year by the media for doubling the Spartans' wins in his first year.

Perry rushed for a career-high 1,589 yards and 17 touchdowns this season, leading the Big Ten with 132.4 yards rushing per game. He ran for 154 yards and two scores Saturday to lead the Wolverines to a 35-21 victory over Ohio State and their first outright Big Ten title since 1997.

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Michigan teammates John Navarre, Braylon Edwards, David Baas and Tony Pape joined Perry as first-team selections by both the conference coaches and the media. Others named to both first teams for offense: Minnesota running back Marion Barber III; Wisconsin receiver Lee Evans; Minnesota center Greg Eslinger; Ohio State guard Alex Stepanovich; Iowa tackle Robert Gallery, who was named the Big Ten's offensive lineman of the year; and Iowa kicker Nate Kaeding.

Will Smith had 10 1/2 sacks this year, two shy of his total for his first three seasons combined. He also had 20 tackles for loss and was the leader of an Ohio State defense that allowed fewer than 61 yards rushing per game, second-best in the country.

Smith also was named the Big Ten's defensive lineman of the year and is a finalist for the Ted Hendricks Award, given annually to the nation's top defensive end.

Buckeyes linebacker A.J. Hawk joined Smith as a first-team selection by both the conference coaches and the media. Others named to both first teams for defense were Iowa lineman Matt Roth; Purdue lineman Shaun Phillips; Purdue linebacker Niko Koutouvides; Iowa defensive back Bob Sanders; Purdue defensive back Stuart Schweigert; and Wisconsin defensive back Jim Leonhard.

Minnesota running back Laurence Maroney was chosen freshman of the year by the media, and he and Michigan receiver Steve Breaston split the coaches' vote.

Maroney ranked fifth in the Big Ten with 990 yards rushing despite splitting time with Barber. Maroney also was second in the conference 25.6 yards per kickoff return.

Breaston returned two punts for touchdowns, and his 14.1 yard return average was ninth in the country. He also caught 32 passes for 383 yards and scored eight touchdowns.