April 1, 2012
Tyler Smith's long journey from a severe knee injury to a successful return to the playing field was rewarded with Rice Football's highest honor when he was named the winner of the George Martin Award as the MVP of the 2011 Rice football team.
The award was announced at the Owls' Football Awards Banquet held in Tudor Fieldhouse on Sunday afternoon, as Rice honored 25 seniors in addition to handing out all the annual awards for performance both on the field and in the classroom.
Travis Bradshaw, who was forced to give up his pursuit of the Owls' career tackle record prior to his senior season because of an injury, entered the record books for his combination of academic and athletic achievement, becoming the first three-time recipient of the James Glanville Award.
Smith was injured on a kickoff return against UTEP in 2007 sat out the 2008 season while beginning his long rehab. He returned to the field in 2009 and rushed for just over 700 yards the next two seasons, before exploding in 2011.
He led the team with 860 yards to become the 20th Owl to top 1,500 yards rushing in a career and shattered the school and C-USA records with a 97-yard touchdown run against Houston. He also caught 39 passes for 309 yards and led the team with 1,169 all-purpose yards. He earned honorable mention All C-USA honors from league coaches after his standout senior year.
Smith was also honored with the George R. Brown offensive award for backs, joining offensive teammates Jake Hicks (lineman) and Vance McDonald (receivers). Allen was also presented the Jess Neely Defensive Award for linebackers, joining Solomon (lineman) and Bryce Callahan (backs).
Solomon, who made a successful return to the playing field of his own in 2011 was presented the "Bloody Joe" Davis Award, which honors competitive spirit and the ability to rise above pain & injury.
Callahan, who lead all FBS freshmen with six interceptions and was named to a pair of freshmen All-America teams, earned the Lipscomb Award as the Owls' top freshman and also was presented the Joe Davis Award as the most improved performer during 2011 spring drills. Wide receiver Andre Gautreaux was honored with the Bill Whitmore Award as the most improved offensive performer during 2011 spring workouts.
Running back Turner Petersen was presented the Billy Ed Daniels Award for exhibiting the qualities most desired in a teammate.
Wide receiver Andre Gautreaux was honored with the Bill Whitmore Award as the most improved offensive performer during 2011 spring workouts.
The Owls will return to the spring practice field on Monday for the first of their last two practices of this spring. They will wrap up spring drills on Wednesday.