Texas A&M’s Sanders Receives Coveted “Aggie Heart Award”

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SAN ANTONIO -- Fifth-year senior quarterback T.J. Sanders received the coveted Aggie Heart Award during the annual football awards ceremony at the Texas A&M football team’s Christmas dinner at the Hyatt Regency on the Riverwalk. All the football awards are based on a vote of the team.

The Aggie Heart Award is the most coveted and cherished honor given to a Texas A&M football player each year. It is presented to a senior who has completed his football eligibility, and the selection criteria includes effort, desire, determination, competitiveness, accountability, leadership, and courage. The Aggie Heart Award winner is the player who exerts himself to the fullest every time he wears his football gear, regardless of the situation – practice or a game.

Considered to be a “coach on the field,” Sanders will play a bigger role in the Aggies’ play-calling in the Valero Alamo Bowl on Saturday when he dons a headset on the sideline. Offensive coordinator Les Koenning Jr. will give the playcall to Sanders, who will relay the play to fellow quarterback Stephen McGee on the field.

Although Sanders played sparingly throughout his A&M career, he produced one of the most important plays of the 2007 season when he converted a fake field goal for a touchdown against the archrival Texas Longhorns in A&M’s 38-30 win. Normally the Aggies’ holder on placekicks, Sanders took the snap and then followed Martellus Bennett’s block into the endzone.

Quarterback Stephen McGee (Burnet, Texas) was named the team’s Offensive Most Valuable Player, while cornerback Marquis Carpenter (Melbourne, Fla.) received the Defensive MVP nod. McGee set a quarterback school record with 858 rushing yards in 2007, while also passing for 2,147 yards and 12 touchdowns. McGee produced over 3,000 yards of total offense, which had been done only once before in school history. Carpenter won the starting job at cornerback after two games in 2007, and then emerged as the Aggies’ top pass defender with a team-high four interceptions and four other passes broken up.

Senior Kerry Franks (Orange, Texas), who will be seeking the single season and career records for kickoff return yardage in the Alamo Bowl, was named the Special Teams MVP. Franks averaged 25.7 yards on 24 kickoff returns this season and stands just 10 yards shy of Terrence Murphy’s record of 626 kickoff return yards in 2003.

2007 Big 12 Co-Offensive Lineman of the Year Cody Wallace (Cuero, Texas) received the Offensive Line MVP after anchoring an Aggie offensive front that averaged 402.8 yards of offense, including an impressive 215.6 rushing yards per game. A punishing blocker, Wallace averaged nearly 15 knockdown blocks per game and graded out at 87 percent on 890 scrimmage snaps in 2007. Wallace had just two mental errors in 12 games for an incredible 99.8 assignment success rate.

The “Geritol Gang” linebacker tandem of Mark Dodge and Misi Tupe shared the Defensive Line/Linebacker MVP. The 26-year old Dodge (Yeington, Nev.) led the team in tackles with 108 and broke up five passes, while the 25-year old Tupe (St. George, Utah) chipped in 89 tackles and two quarterback sacks.

Receiving the Offensive Work Team MVP awards were true freshman running back Bradley Stephens (McAllen, Texas) and sophomore quarterback Jeff Wood (Houston, Texas), while the Defensive Work Team MVPs were senior defensive back Ben Bitner (Austin, Texas) and true freshman defensive lineman Ben Bass (Plano, Texas).

2007 Texas A&M Football Awards

Aggie Heart Award: T.J. Sanders

Offensive MVP: Stephen McGee

Defensive MVP: Marquis Carpenter

Special Teams MVP: Kerry Franks

Offensive Line MVP: Cody Wallace

Defensive Line/Linebacker MVP: Mark Dodge & Misi Tupe

Offensive Work Team MVPs: Bradley Stephens, Jeff Wood

Defensive Work Team MVPs: Ben Bitner, Ben Bass