Jones, WVU football team win final DA Awards
Published: Monday, April 30, 2012
Updated: Monday, April 30, 2012 00:04
At this time last year, Kevin Jones was deliberating between two choices that would affect him for the rest of his life. Make no mistake about it: Jones’ turning down the chance to play in the National Basketball Association was not an easy one. That hard choice, though, led to a lot of hardware, and it’s safe to say Jones made the optimal decision to return for his senior season.
This season, Jones went from a great Mountaineer to an all-time great Mountaineer. Jones finished his West Virginia career fifth in scoring, fourth in rebounding, second in career minutes played and first in offensive rebounding. His output is so diverse and emphatic that the only player who truly rivals it is NBA Hall of Famer Jerry West.
However, it was Jones’ output this season that earned him The Daily Athenaeum’s "Top Male Athlete of the Year" Award. The Mount Vernon, N.Y., native led the Big East Conference in both scoring (19.9) and rebounding (10.9) per game – only the third player in conference history to achieve the feat.
Jones became the first Mountaineer basketball player since 1972 to score at least 20 points in nine consecutive games. His statistics, though certainly impressive, are most noteworthy for their unshakable amount of consistency. Despite playing one of the toughest schedules in the country, Jones’ lowest scoring performance was just 13 points.
Throughout a season defined by youthful infusion and transition, Jones remained an unwavering constant and inspiring leader for the Mountaineers. Jones was named a first team all-Big East selection and found himself on a variety of all-American lists, including the John R. Wooden All-American team, the second-team for Associated Press and the third-team for Sporting News.
For all of these reasons and more, Jones was a unanimous decision amongst the DA staff, becoming the only award to achieve a first-place nod from every voter.
Geno Smith, football
Ray Gaddis, men’s soccer
Team of the Year
After a midseason loss to Louisville, it appeared West Virginia’s astronomically high preseason expectations were, in fact, not going to be met. After all, a team with as much hype as this one had before it even played a game was almost destined to fail.
Sitting with multiple losses in conference play late in the season, West Virginia was all but set to miss out on a conference championship and a BCS bowl berth – or in other words, a failed season.
However, just when things looked the darkest, it got exciting.
The football team’s selection as the Team of the Year does have a lot to do with the Orange Bowl win, but it’s much more than that.
It’s how the team got to that point, and how they responded to adversity when it did.
Lest we not forget, it took a fourth-and-ten conversion in the waning seconds of the fourth quarter at USF to set up a game-winning Tyler Bitancurt field goal.
West Virginia fans were busy rooting for more than just the Mountaineers.
Due to a complex tie-breaker scenario, West Virginia needed help going into the last week of the season. Fortunately, they were able to get it, and thus, capture a share of the Big East conference title and the BCS bowl berth that came with it.
The 70-33 drubbing of Clemson was the epitome of what West Virginia football is all about. Nationally, West Virginia was counted out of the game before the team even made it to Miami.
Not only were the Mountaineers able to win, but they did so in a fashion unlike any other in BCS history.
The most memorable thing about the victory was that everybody contributed. The defense, offense, special teams, coaching staff and fans all played an equal role in the performance.
Before season’s end, more records were broken than in any other single season in history. Quarterback Geno Smith became the school’s first 4,000 yard passer and Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin became the first pair of teammates to record 1,000 yards receiving in the same season.
However, the season’s most memorable and influential play came on defense when safety Darwin Cook took a fumble recovery 99 yards into the Miami night, changing the future of the team, and the program, with each step forward.