CROSBY, DIZON HIGHLIGHT BUFFS' BIG 12 LAURELS
BOULDER - Led by linebacker Jordon Dizon and placekicker Mason Crosby, the University of Colorado football team continued to rack up more accolades during the 2004 season, as the Big 12 released its all-conference squads and individual award winners Wednesday afternoon.
With selections made by the league coaches (no coach was allowed to vote for his own players), Dizon was named the Big 12's Defensive Freshman of the Year, while Crosby was tabbed with first-team honors. Joining Crosby and Dizon on the list of awards were 12 other Buffaloes.
Tight end Joe Klopfenstein, offensive tackle Sam Wilder, return specialist Stephone Robinson and punter John Torp were named to the Big 12's second team. Rounding out the selections on the honorable mention list were offensive guard Brian Daniels, defensive end James Garee, linebacker Brian Iwuh, defensive tackle Vaka Manupuna, defensive tackle Matt McChesney, tailback Bobby Purify, cornerback Lorenzo Sims and linebacker Thaddaeus Washington.
Dizon, who took the college football world by storm this season, has complied 78 total tackles and set CU's all-time freshman tackle record two games ago when he surpassed J.J. Billingsley's mark (68) from 2002. To go along with his 49 solo stuffs, the 6-foot, 220-pound Hawaii native (Kauai) is third in tackles for CU this year and has five stops for losses (one sack).
Originally recruited as an "athlete" out of high school, Dizon entered camp in August scheduled to play safety. But five practices into the week, he was moved to linebacker so he could be closer to the ball. Realizing his big-play mentality, ability to lay down hard hits and nose for finding the pigskin, CU's coaches wasted no time in letting Dizon roam around the line of scrimmage. As the youngster zoomed up the depth chart in practically unprecedented fashion, he became the starting "Will" ?backer just six practices later, and has never looked back.
"Winning the Big 12 North and playing in the (conference) championship game and having a chance to go to the Fiesta Bowl has been a great experience for me during my freshman year," Dizon stated. "Those things might even be more important (than winning the award).
"I came (to Colorado) not knowing what to expect. I'd never watched a college football game before. Just coming in here to do my part and help our team has been great. This really isn't something that I ever would have expected when I first got here."
As for Crosby, it's no secret what the sophomore has been able to accomplish this season. The Texas native (Georgetown) has become a major weapon for the Buffs with both his scoring and kickoff abilities. Through 11 games, he has booted the NCAA's longest field goal this year (60 yards), and set several major CU records. The 60-yarder is the third longest all-time in Big 12 history, while his five kicks of 50 yards or more this season are tied for an NCAA best. He owns three of CU's top six all-time kicks, and became the second fastest Buff kicker to reach the 100-point mark, doing so in just 19 games. (Neil Voskeritchian did it in 14 games in 1994-95.)
Crosby's 18 field goals this year lead the Big 12 and tie him with Jeremy Flores (2001) for the most ever by a Buff in one season. Just this past Monday, he was named the Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week for his four-field goal effort last week in CU's 26-20 win over Nebraska. It was the second time in 2004 that he had connected on four kicks in one game.
"As always, it's great to be recognized for helping our team win," Crosby said Wednesday. "I have to give a lot of credit to my teammates for the success I've had this year. (Snapper) Greg Pace and (holder) Nick Holz have really been perfect throughout every game. All the guys have done a great job blocking and I can't forget the offense, who's helped get me in range time and time again."
Injury Updates: As the Buffs continued to practice for Saturday's Big 12 title game with Oklahoma, a welcomed face was back in action during the afternoon. Junior wide out Evan Judge, who missed the Nebraska game with a viral infection that lowered the platelet count in his blood, was back "practicing hard" according to head coach Gary Barnett.
"Things right now feel pretty good (for Judge)," Barnett said, noting that he expects the junior to play against OU.
The Buffs and Sooners will kick off Saturday night from Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium at 6 p.m. MST. The game will be broadcast on ABC, with Brad Nessler (play-by-play), Bob Griese (color) and Lynn Swann (sidelines) calling the action. The contest will also be broadcast over the radio nationally by Sports Radio USA.