East Lansing — It came a bit later than usual, but Michigan State celebrated its 2015 football season on Sunday, highlighted by honoring the winningest senior class in school history.
The banquet typically happens the Sunday after the regular season, but with the Spartans playing in the Big Ten championship, it was pushed to the spring, the same as it was in 2013.
The seniors were the star of the show. Winners of 43 games, the 2015 class was almost all back for the banquet, and wide receiver Aaron Burbridge got his teammates’ vote as the MVP, taking home the Governor’s Award.
“Being voted by my teammates and being MVP is a true blessing,” said Burbridge, who was the Big Ten’s Receiver of the Year after leading the conference with 85 catches for 1,258 yards. “It still honestly hasn’t even hit me yet, but it is great what we did the past few years, making this program elite in the country. The younger guys are coming up and I feel like they will keep it rolling.”
The sting of the loss to Alabama in the College Football Playoff has long worn off for the group that gathered at the spring game on Saturday and contemplate what comes next.
“It’s strange, after the Alabama game I thought I had to be here for a 7:30 meeting a week later,” center Jack Allen said. “Obviously it’s very emotional that this part of my life and all the seniors’ are over, but it’s got to come to an end eventually and we have to graduate.
“It’s definitely been the best part of my life to be here and be a Spartan and I couldn’t ask for a better time, better coaches or a better team.”
Allen is expecting his next step to be in the NFL and will likely go in the first half of this week’s NFL Draft. The same can be said for Burbridge, quarterback Connor Cook and defensive end Shilique Calhoun. Fellow seniors Lawrence Thomas and Joel Heath also hope to go in the draft while junior Jack Conklin is a likely high first-round pick.
Others will move on to life after football with the memories of championships and games won. But those don’t match the camaraderie developed, Calhoun said.
“The things I’ll hold dear are the friendships we made,” Calhoun said. “That’s what I’ll take away from Michigan State, that bond, that friendship and those memories. We built a tradition, as well. Michigan State players have always been close, but our senior class has been the closest.”
MSU AWARD WINNERS
President’s Award (senior lineman/senior back for perseverance): TE Paul Lang (offense); CB Arjen Colquhoun (defense).
Cowing Award (senior manager)/Con Demos Managerial Scholarship: Dan Kalchik.
Jim Adams Award (unsung heroes): FB Trevon Pendleton (offense); LB Chris Frey (defense).
Iron Man Award (strength/conditioning): LB Darien Harris.
Potsy Ross Award (scholar-athlete): QB Tommy Vento.
George Scofes Academic Spartan of the Year Award: Dwight Handspike.
Tommy Love Award (most improved): OL Bennie McGowan (offense); LB Jon Reschke (defense).
Clarence Underwood Award (sportsmanship): OL Donavon Clark (offense); DE Joel Heath (defense).
MSU Football Players Association Community Service Award: TE Josiah Price.
Outstanding Underclass Lineman Award: OL Jack Conklin (offense); DT Malik McDowell (defense).
Outstanding Underclass Back Award: RBs LJ Scott and Gerald Holmes (offense); S Demetrious Cox (defense).
Up Front Award (outstanding lineman): C Jack Allen (offense); DE Lawrence Thomas (defense).
Downtown Coaches Club Award (senior defense): DE Shilique Calhoun.
Downtown Coaches Club Award (senior offense): QB Connor Cook.
Downtown Coaches Club Award (senior special teams): SN Taybor Pepper.
Danziger Award (outstanding Detroit-area player): WR Aaron Burbridge (offense); DE Lawrence Thomas (defense).
Doug Weaver Oil Can Award (team humorist): LB Riley Bullough.
Biggie Munn Award (most inspirational): C Jack Allen (offense); LB Riley Bullough (defense).
Governor’s Award (2015 most valuable player): WR Aaron Burbridge.
Captain’s Award: C Jack Allen, DE Shilique Calhoun, LB Darien Harris.