He was forced to miss the final seven quarters of the season, but Michael Mauti had already done plenty to draw the attention of Big Ten coaches and media alike.
Mauti and teammate Allen Robinson opened up the conference's awards season in style for Penn State on Monday. Mauti earned the Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year award while Robinson was named the Richter-Howard Receiver of the Year.
The pair led six Nittany Lions who received first-team All-Big Ten selections.
Robinson and Mauti were joined by senior defensive tackle Jordan Hill as consensus first-team picks. Redshirt freshman tight end Kyle Carter was a first-team media choice while senior center Matt Stankiewitch and junior guard John Urschel were named to the coaches' first team.
Senior linebacker Gerald Hodges was a consensus second-team pick. Stankiewitch and Urschel both appeared on the media's second team.
Mauti and Robinson became the first Penn State players to win their respective awards, which debuted last season.
The leader of the team on and off the field, Mauti finished the year with 95 tackles (four for loss), 2.5 sacks and had a hand in seven turnovers, picking off three passes, forcing three fumbles and recovering one himself.
This year has been the most fun I've ever had playing, Mauti said in a school release. This linebacker corps is very special. Gerald had a great year and Glenn (Carson) is really making his mark. (Linebackers coach Ron) Vanderlinden was a big reason why I came to Penn State and I have learned from the best.
Robinson had just three catches as a freshman but exploded for a school record 77 in a sophomore campaign in which the Lions had to replace all of their top receivers.
The Michigan native led the Big Ten in catches, receiving yards (1,018) and receiving touchdowns (11). He is just the second Penn State receiver in history to hit 1,000 yards in a season (Bobby Engram) and the third to haul in 10 touchdowns in a season (Engram, Joe Jurevicius).It's been a pretty rough journey, Robinson said on the Big Ten Network's award show. Just a lot of long days in the spring and summer. It's been a fun journey, (too) … putting in work after practice and fine-tuning chemistry with Matt (McGloin).
Just go out every Saturday and give it my best.
Despite being a first-team selection by the media, Carter was only an honorable mention pick by Big Ten coaches and ultimately lost out to Wisconsin's Jacob Pedersen for the league's top tight end award.
Likewise, Hill finished behind Ohio State's John Simon for best defensive lineman.
McGloin garnered a pair of honorable-mention finishes despite leading the Big Ten in completions (270), passing yards (3,271) and passing touchdowns (24) -- all Penn State single-season records.
Ohio State's Braxton Miller was named quarterback of the year and split first- and second-team honors with Nebraska's Taylor Martinez.
Hill also received accolades earlier in the day along with teammate Sam Ficken. Hill was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week for his career performance against Wisconsin, turning in a personal-best 12 tackles, including three for loss.
Eight of those tackles -- including all three behind the line of scrimmage -- came in the fourth quarter and overtime of the 24-21 win.
Ficken also shined against the Badgers completing his impressive season-long turnaround by hitting all three field goals he attempted, including the eventual game-winner in overtime.
The sophomore finished the year with 10 straight makes after opening the year 1-for-5 in a one-point loss to Virginia.
Rounding out the accolades on Monday were All-Big Ten honorable mentions for sophomore CB Adrian Amos (both teams), freshman DE Deion Barnes (both), Carter (coaches), senior OT Mike Farrell (both), McGloin (both), senior CB Stephon Morris (both), senior DE Sean Stanley (media) and sophomore TB Zach Zwinak (media).
Hill was Penn State's sportsmanship award recipient.
More Big Ten awards will be announced today, with Mauti (Defensive Player of the Year), Barnes (Freshman of the Year) and Bill O'Brien (Coach of the Year) all potential candidates.