Ryan Kerrigan certainly didn't enter his senior as the preseason favorite to be named Big Ten Defensive Player-of-the-Year.
Rather, reigning winner Greg Jones of Michigan State and defensive end Adrian Clayborn of Iowa, among others, probably came into the season with more name recognition.
Kerrigan won the award Monday, making him Purdue's first Big Ten Defensive Player-of-the-Year since Jeff Zgonina was honored as such by the media in 1992.
"He played his way into that award," Coach Danny Hope said Monday night, after his program's postseason banquet. "It wasn't a popularity contest. It wasn't because he played on a team with a great record. It was because he played his way into it. That speaks volumes."
The Boilermaker defensive end led the nation with 26 tackles for loss, led the Big Ten with 12-and-a-half sacks and tied the NCAA's all-time record for forced fumbles of 14 before registering five as a senior.
"It's almost shocking, really," Kerrigan said. "When you look at guys who've won it in years past ... to be in that realm with those guys, it's really kind of shocking."
What wasn't shocking was the Big Ten's top defensive player being named Purdue's top defensive player, as Kerrigan was Monday night when he was awarded Purdue's Defensive MVP award.
He was asked which award meant more to him.
"The Team MVP, actually, because you're recognized by your teammates," said Kerrigan, who in the morning was named a first-team All-American by the American Football Coaches Association, "and their opinion is what matters most. The Big Ten award is very nice, no doubt about that, and I thank everybody who voted for me for that, but the team MVP means a lot to me."
Offensive tackle Dennis Kelly was named MVP of an offense tattered by major injuries at the skill positions.
"I was pretty surprised," the junior said. "MVP usually goes to a quarterback, running back, skill positions. There were a lot of deserving guys. Dan Dierking was one I was thinking about. But I'm honored."
"It's a great honor for me," Carlino said. "I didn't get as many defensive reps as I'd have liked this season, but any time I can get on the field and contribute is good time for me. Playing time is playing time. I just want to get on the field and lead by example. That's what I've tried to do."
Other awards ...
Offensive tackle Nick Mondek and corner Josh Johnson were named Purdue's most improved players on offense and defense, respectively.
Senior tight end Kyle Adams, an Academic All-American, three-peated on the Noble Kizer Award, given to the player with the team's highest GPA the prior two semesters.
Kerrigan tacked the Guy "Red" Mackey Award exemplifying the overall success of the university's intercollegiate athletics program" and Leonard Wilson Award for "unselfishness and dedication" to his pile of awards.
Quarterback Rob Henry, who played much of the back half of the season after literally destroying his right index finger at Ohio State, also earned a Wilson Award for unselfishness and dedication.
For the best Purdue team and recruiting coverage out there, click here.
Copyright, Boilers, Inc. 2010. All Rights Reserved. Reproducing or using editorial or graphical content, in whole or in part, without permission, is strictly prohibited. E-mail GoldandBlack.com/Boilers, Inc.