Gerald Davis, David Tillman claim top honors for 2007 Football Bears
Two members of a small but productive group of seniors collected the top honors for the 2007 Missouri State University football team as tailback Gerald Davis was named to receive the Coors Player of the Year Award, and offensive center David Tillman is a repeat winner of the Arthur Briggs Award. The awards were announced and presented Sunday evening at the annual Missouri State Football Recognition Banquet at Plaster Student Union.
The selection of Gerald Davis for the Coors Award marks the eighth time the award has gone to a running back. The selection of Tillman as the team's top scholar-athlete is the 11th time that honor has gone to an offensive lineman in the 15 years the Briggs Award has been given. Tillman also won the Briggs Award in 2005 and is the third Bear to claim the honor twice. Travis Brawner was picked for the Briggs Award in 1998 and 1999 and Brad Durham was the winner in 2003 and 2004.
The Coors Award has been given annually since 1982 at Missouri State in football and men’s basketball following voting by Springfield sports media representatives. The award, sponsored jointly by Coors of the Ozarks and Adolph Coors Company of Golden, Colo., carries with it a $1,500 scholarship to Missouri State in the name of the winning player. Coors also sponsors Player of the Week recognition in both sports. The Coors presentations were made Sunday by Jim Ferguson of Coors of the Ozarks.
The Arthur Briggs Award was started in 1991 to help perpetuate the memory of the Bears’ long-time athletics director and winningest all-time football coach, for whom the Missouri State stadium was named from 1970 until 1991. The award goes to the outstanding football player based on athletic performance, scholarship, leadership and character, and is selected from within the athletics department. The Briggs Award was presented Sunday to Tillman by Director of Athletics Bill Rowe.
Gerald Davis hails from St. Louis and is also a 2007 co-captain and a four-year letterman. After seeing action on defense and special teams much of his first two seasons, he moved to fullback and then to tailback. He was the Bears' starter at that spot in 2007, gained all-Gateway honorable mention, and set school season records for rushing touchdowns (19), total touchdowns (19) and total points (114). His five rushing TDs in the season opener against Missouri-Rolla set a Bears' single game record and he had three or more TDs in three other games as he led Missouri State in rushing with 830 yards. Davis was also selected the team's Most Valuble Player in voting by the players.
Tillman has been a four-year starter and letterman for Missouri State, working as a defensive tackle his first year before three seasons at offensive center. He has received Gateway Football Conference Academic All-Conference selection three times and was a CoSIDA Academic All-American All-District selection in 2006. A native of St. Peters, Mo., and a 2007 Bears' co-captain, Tillman is majoring in cell and molecular biology and carries a 3.60 cumulative grade point average.
Additional top honors at Sunday's banquet included Outstanding Lifter-DT Chris Brehmer, Defensive Scout Player of the year-LB Chris Current, Offensive Scout Player of the Year-TB Miguel Warren, Offensive Lineman of the Year-OG David Arkin, Defensive Lineman of the Year-DT Chris Brehmer, Special Teams Player of the Year-K/P Nathan Stokes, Offensive MVP-TE Clay Harbor, Defensive MVP-S Roger Wright.
Senior WR Jeremy Nicholson and senior LB Jeron Poole were selected to share the Bears' Team Award from the coaching staff, given to the seniors who best exemplify the spirit of the team and best represented the University off the field.
Also presented were all-conference and academic all-conference awards, Coors Player of the Week awards, and plaques to the Bears’ 10 seniors for 2007. The seniors include G. Davis, Tillman, Poole, Nicholson, WR/KR Eric Davis, WR/KR Tamarkus McElvane, CB Marcus Colbert, P/K Nathan Stokes, LB Chris Hayward and LB Kevin Sears. G. Davis, Colbert, Poole and Tillman were the team's 2007 co-captains and G. Davis, Colbert, Tillman, Nicholson and Sears were the four-year lettermen on this year's team.
Coors Player of the Year yearly winners: 1982-DE Darrin Newbold, 1983-FS Mike Armentrout, 1984-RB Johnny Longstreet, 1985-RB Keith Williams, 1986-LB Ken Braden, 1987-LB Matt Soraghan, 1988-LB James Turnage, 1989-QB DeAndre Smith, 1990-QB DeAndre Smith, 1991-DT Bill Walter, 1992-FB Jonah White, 1993-RB Anthony Pegues, 1994-LB DeLaun Fowler, 1995-LB DeLaun Fowler, 1996-RB Michael Cosey, 1997-OT Brad Kubik, 1998-QB Derek Jensen,1999-QB Jay Rodgers, 2000-WR Jeff Hewitt, 2001-LB P. J. Jones, 2002-OC Crockett Ladd, 2003-TB Cody Pratt, 2004-TB Cody Pratt and WR Steven Rush, 2005-WR/KR Michael Sparks, 2006-S Mike Radon/OT Justin Williamson, 2007-TB Gerald Davis.
Arthur Briggs Award yearly winners: 1991-OT Tim McDuffey, 1992-OG Matt Irvin, 1993-CB Willie Parks, 1994-OT Ryan Touhey, 1995-OT Jason Whittle, 1996-TE Corey Roy, 1997-FS Jeff Killeen, 1998-P/K Travis Brawner, 1999-P/K Travis Brawner, 2000-TE Matt White, 2001-TB Jason Ringena, 2002-OC Crockett Ladd, 2003-OC Brad Durham, 2004-OC Brad Durham, 2005-OC David Tillman, 2006-TE Payne Hall, 2007-OC David Tillman.
Missouri State closed 2007 with a 6-5 and the Bears finished tied for fifth in the Gateway Football Conference in their second year under head coach Terry Allen. It was the Bears' first winning season since 2004 and the biggest improvement in the number of wins a Missouri State team has had from one year to the next in 18 seasons.