Maroney named Big Ten frosh of the year

by Brett Angel

Never one to suffer from a lack of confidence in himself, Minnesota running back Laurence Maroney admitted even he was surprised when he received a call on his cell phone late Tuesday morning informing him he was named the Big Ten’s freshman of the year.

“I knew I had a great season but I still thought there were other people out there who probably did better than me that I didn’t know about,” Maroney said. “I was real shocked that I got it.”

Maroney’s teammates, however, were not nearly as shocked to hear the news. At least, not since fall practices, when they witnessed a true freshman from St. Louis walk into camp with a noticeable swagger and the game to back it up.

“Just the way you watched him play, no matter if he was going against an upperclassman or a freshman he played hard to make a starting position,” said senior tight end Ben Utecht, who earned first-team All-Big Ten honors from the coaches.

Despite backing up first-team All-Big Ten selection Marion Barber III for much of the year, Maroney finished the regular season with 990 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. His 6.73 yards-per-carry average is the second-highest single-season average in team history.

Maroney, who is the first Minnesota freshman to earn the award since running back Darrell Thompson in 1986, also received honorable mention recognition from both the coaches and media.

Barber, who finished the season with 1,159 rushing yards and a school-record 17 touchdowns, was joined on the Big Ten’s first team by sophomore center Greg Eslinger.

Senior guard Joe Quinn was a second-team selection and junior tackle Rian Melander was named to the conference’s second team by the media.

Eslinger, Quinn and Melander were part of an offensive line that anchored the most prolific offense in school history this season.

As a unit, the offense set numerous team records including total offense (501.4 ypg), rushing offense (293.2 ypg), rushing touchdowns (42) and scoring (39.3 ppg).