Four Earn Top Football Team Awards

Jan. 30, 2009

Coaches Name Football Honorees

TUCSON--Willie Tuitama, Mike Thomas, Ronnie Palmer and Jason Bondzio earned the Most Valuable Player honors at the University of Arizona's Football Year-End Banquet Friday night at the Westin La Paloma hotel ceremony.

Quarterback Tuitama of Stockton, Calif., and receiver Thomas of DeSoto, Texas, shared offensive MVP honors, while linebacker Palmer of Spring, Texas, earned the defensive nod and placekicker Bondzio of Humble, Texas, snared the special teams' honor. All were 2008 seniors for the Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl champions.

UA's coaching staff presented the Tedy Bruschi Awards for the first time, in honor of the former Arizona sack champion and 13-year NFL veteran (New England Patriots). The honor cites a defensive and offensive player's courage, commitment and continued effort toward a winning performance.

Senior offensive guard Joe Longacre of Katy, Texas, and junior left tackle Eben Britton of Burbank, Calif., who has declared for the NFL Draft in April, shared the Bruschi Award on offense while senior safety Nate Ness of Gardena, Calif., earned the defensive distinction.

The Scout Team Player of the Year Awards for offense went to junior walk-on lineman Chris Hannon of San Francisco, while two players shared the honor for defense -- redshirt freshman defensive back and special teams player Orlando Vargas of Winslow, Ariz., and sophomore transfer quarterback Nick Foles of Austin, Texas. These awards fete a player's effort in emulating opposing players and working against the top units in game preparations.

Football Notes......National signing day is Wednesday, Feb. 4, with UA expected to sign nearly 20 incoming recruits for the Class of 2009... Spring Football is kind of around the corner, with the Cats tentatively slated to begin team drills March 4. It would extend some 15 practices into the first week of April... Pro Timing Day on campus is scheduled for March 14, with scouts from various NFL teams on hand to physically test draft prospects. The NFL Draft is in April 25-26 in New York. Arizona's OT Eben Britton and WR Mike Thomas are getting considerable attention, with Tuitama, Bondzio, Palmer and others likely to earn free-agent tryouts...

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