EAST HARTFORD, Conn. -
The 2016 UConn Football Awards Show took place on Friday night on the Club Level at Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field.
Senior wide receiver Noel Thomas, Jr. (Norwalk, Conn.) was named the Offensive Player of the Year while senior safety Obi Melifonwu (South Grafton, Mass.) was named the Defensive Player of the Year. Senior kicker Bobby Puyol (North Palm Beach, Fla.) was the Special Team Player of the Year.
Thomas led UConn in receiving with a school single-season record 100 receptions for 1,179 yards, which was second. For his career, Thomas had 183 receptions, which is fourth in school history, for 2,235 yards, eighth in school history.
He was named second team All-American Athletic Conference and was also an All-ECAC and All-New England pick. Thomas was the winner of this year's Bulger Lowe Award, given to the top player in New England by the Gridiron Club of Boston.
Melifonwu led UConn in tackles this past season with 118 and also had a team-leading four interceptions. He was a first team All-American Athletic Conference pick and also earned All-ECAC and All-New England honors.
Puyol was 13 for 18 in field goals as a senior and had game-winning field goals vs. Maine and Virginia. His 39 field goals is third all-time in UConn school history, while his 16 field goals as a junior were sixth in school single-season history and his 13 this year were tied for ninth.
The Look Team Player of the Year went to freshman wide receiver Keyion Dixon (Glastonbury, Conn.) while other finalists were redshirt sophomore defensive lineman James Atkins (Saugus, Mass), freshman linebacker AJ Garson (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) and freshman running back Nate Hopkins (Flower Mound, Texas).
Redshirt freshman Matt Peart (Bronx, N.Y.) won the Joseph M. Giannelli Newcomer of the Year Award after starting all 12 games at left tackle. Other finalists were: redshirt freshman tight end Tyler Davis (North Bellmore, N.Y.), redshirt freshman defensive lineman Kevin Murphy (West Chester, Pa.) and freshman deep snapper Nick Zecchino (Cedar Grove, N.J.).
Redshirt sophomore defensive lineman Sheriden Lawley (Abbotsford, B.C.) was named the Most Improved Player of the Year. Lawley played in all 12 games on both defense and special teams. Other finalists were: redshirt sophomore linebacker Chris Britton (Harrisburg, Pa.), redshirt sophomore center Ryan Crozier (Plantation, Fla.) and junior linebacker Vontae Diggs (Downers Grove, Ill.).
Redshirt senior defensive lineman Sean Marinan (Higganum, Conn.) was the winner of the John L. Toner Scholar-Athlete Award. Marinan earned his undergraduate degree in management information systems and is a graduate student this fall. He was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District Team. Other finalists were: Melifonwu, redshirt junior quarterback Will Rishell (Marlborough, Conn.) and redshirt senior punter Justin Wain (Wilmington, N.C.).
The Kendall Madison Outstanding Power Player Award was earned by senior defensive lineman Mikal Myers (Newburgh, N.Y.), who made 51 tackles this season. Other finalists were: redshirt junior defensive lineman Foley Fatukasi (Far Rockaway, N.Y.), senior offensive lineman Andreas Knappe (Silkeborg, Denmark) and redshirt junior defensive lineman Cole Ormsby (Windsor, Conn.).
The Brian Kozlowski Outstanding Big Skill Player Award was presented to junior linebacker Luke Carrezola (Langhorn, Pa.). Carrezola had 43 tackles on the season starting all 12 games. Other finalists were: redshirt junior linebacker Junior Joseph, and junior running back Arkeel Newsome (Ansonia, Conn.) and senior linebacker Matt Walsh (Madison, Conn.).
The Jasper T. Howard Award was given to Thomas while Melifonwu was the other finalist this year.
The Bleed Blue Award was presented to Walsh while Knappe, redshirt senior cornerback John Green (Miami, Fla.) and senior wide receiver Brian Lemelle (Harrisburg, Pa.) were the other finalists.
The Sweetest Play of the Year Award was determined by a vote of the audience and it was given to redshirt senior cornerback Jhavon Williams (Delray Beach, Fla.) for his acrobatic interception vs. USF. Other nominees were a touchdown reception by Thomas vs. Cincinnati and a touchdown run by Newsome against Tulane.