By a landslide vote, senior tight end Dustin Keller was named Purdue's 2007 Team MVP Monday night, at Purdue's annual end-of-season banquet.
"It's awesome," Keller said. "It was a ton of hard work that I put in, ultimately trying to prove that I belonged in my (recruiting) class and I belonged at a Big Ten university, especially at Purdue, since it's where I'm from.
"It's a huge honor to be voted MVP, especially since it's by my teammates, of all people. It's huge for me. I couldn't be any happier. I don't know what to say."
A former wide receiver from near-by Lafayette Jefferson High School, Keller grew into one of the nation's top tight ends; as such, he's been recognized as a semi-finalist for the John Mackey Award, given each year to the nation's top tight end.
Keller caught 61 passes during the regular season, for 731 yards and six touchdowns.
"I'm sure I'll be telling my kids one day that I played with Dustin Keller back at Purdue," said linebacker Dan Bick, a senior captain.
Coach Joe Tiller said that Keller received 49 first-place votes, with the runner-up getting just 14.
All-Big Ten Teams Named
Nine Boilermakers earned All-Big Ten acclaim Monday night.
Keller and wide receiver Dorien Bryant were named second-team by the coaches and media.
Defensive end Cliff Avril was named second-team by the coaches and honorable-mention by the media.
Cornerback Terrell Vinson was named second-team by the media and honorable-mention by the coaches.
Jermaine Guynn, a former walk-on who started nine games last season but spent most of this season on the scout team, was given the Kiwanis Citizenship Award.
"He'll forever be a favorite of mine," Tiller said.
Guynn earned a scholarship as a redshirt freshman and saw quite a bit of playing time that year, and as a sophomore, but other defensive tackles emerged this year, pushing the gregarious lineman down the depth chart.
"It wasn't easy," Guynn said, also mentioning a preseason injury and the recent passing of his grandfather, "but I knew I was making the whole team better."
The Noble Kizer Award (for academics) went to junior center Zach Smith
Bick won the Red Mackey Award for "overall success."
Senior former walk-ons Mike Durrett and center Neal Tull were presented the Leonard Wilson Award for unselfishness, for defensive and offense, respectively.
The Verle Campbell Scout Team awards went to two redshirting freshmen: quarterback Justin Siller for offense and defensive end Nickcaro Golding for defense.
Keller, cornerback David Pender and punter Jared Armstrong earned the Pop Doan Awards - top performers in the Indiana game - for offense, defense and special teams, respectively.
A prevailing theme throughout the banquet's speaking portion was the hope that Purdue will make a bowl game with its 7-5 record, which is not guaranteed.
"I'm going to do everything in my power," athletic director Morgan Burke told the seniors seated behind him, "to get you guys one more chance to play.
"I'll burn every airwave to get you one more opportunity to set the record straight on the ability of this team."
Bick, as a captain, addressed the crowd, as did Avril.
It was an emotional moment for the senior from Louisville, who started out as just a special-teamer as a true freshman before becoming a starting linebacker as a sophomore, then battling injuries for the balance of his career.
"You never think this day's going to come," Bick said afterwards. "It's always sad to have to say good-bye to people, but it's not too sad, because we're expecting to have another game. That's what's keeping everybody together right now. It's not farewell and good-bye forever.
"We're really crossing our fingers that we'll fall into a bowl spot this year."
During his time at the podium, Bick referenced Purdue's 0-3 finish to the regular season.
"From a player's perspective, we didn't finish up the season like we would have wanted," Bick said, "but not one of us hasn't dreamt of something we'd do differently (to change that), but one thing we wouldn't change is effort.
"Everyone in this room played as hard as they could to the very end and I think that's something we can live with and move on."
After the banquet, Tiller told reporters that a statement will be issued Tuesday on the status of wide receiver Selwyn Lymon in the wake of his most recent arrest.
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