Michigan center David Molk named Big Ten's offensive lineman of year; 3 other Wolverines earn awards
AnnArbor.com file photo
There was a time when David Molk was considered injury prone.
He suffered a foot injury that cost him four games in 2009, then a severe knee injury that knocked him out for the rest of that season. He became frustrated, later acknowledging he harbored some doubt over whether he ever would return to form.
Twenty-four consecutive starts and a trail of flattened defensive linemen later, the Michigan football team's fifth-year senior center was named the Big Ten's Rimington-Pace Offensive Lineman of the Year on Monday night.
He was something of a darkhorse to win the award over Wisconsin's highly regarded center, Peter Konz. But Molk, undersized by most standards at 6-foot-2 and 286 pounds, is used to overcoming obstacles.
He also was the Wolverines' lone player to receive all-Big Ten first-team honors, earning the selection from the coaches. He was second-team, behind Konz, according to the media.
Molk, a captain and one of the team's most visible spokesmen this season, said "it doesn't get much better" than following a 10-2 season and win against Ohio State by being named the league's top lineman.
"I called him (Sunday) night around 11 o’clock. I was like, ‘Dad, I won this,’ and he’s like, ‘What’s that?’" Molk said in a video published by the school Monday night. "He’s not a big football guy. But, it’s just kind of this kind of shared relief that we had throughout the whole process we’ve gone through in college.
"He’s been the guy I lean on."
Molk was a ballast for Michigan's beleaguered offensive line this year, a group whose depth coach Brady Hoke once called "the worst I've ever seen at a university." The Wolverines have eight scholarship offensive linemen, about half of what Hoke desires.
Making matters worse, left guard Ricky Barnum missed several games with ankle injuries, including the final four, and right guard Patrick Omameh went through bouts of ineffectiveness. The line was beat up in a loss to Michigan State, the group's low point this year.
But it battled through to peak in the season's final five games, evidenced by tailback sophomore Fitz Toussaint breaking 100 yards four times and Denard Robinson finishing as the Big Ten's top rushing quarterback.
Toussaint and Robinson both broke the 1,000-yard rushing barrier against Ohio State, the first time that's happened since 1975 and only the second time in school history. The Wolverines averaged 235.7 yards rushing per game as a team, second in the Big Ten.
Molk was a big reason why.
"Going into this season I really didn't know what to expect," said Molk, who is playing for his third coaching staff at Michigan. "It was another transition, another coaching staff, another system, and I didn't know where it would go.
"It could have gone two directions, but with the strength of the senior class and how we dealt with everything, along with the coaches, it played out well."
Especially for Molk.
Others who earned Big Ten honors
Quarterback Denard Robinson: The junior was named to the second-team offense by the media, behind Wisconsin's Russell Wilson. He was beat out by Wilson and second-teamer Kirk Cousins according to the coaches, although was honorable mention. He finished 133-of-237 passing (56.1 percent) for 2,056 yards, 18 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. He also rushed 208 times for 1,163 yards and 16 scores.
Tackle Taylor Lewan: The sophomore was a second-team selection by the coaches and honorable mention by the media.
Mike Martin: The senior was named to the second team by both the coaches and media. He started all 12 games, recording 54 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, three sacks and one safety, Michigan's first since 2003. He also was one of three team captains.
Linebacker Kenny Demens, cornerback J.T. Floyd, wide receiver Junior Hemingway, tight end Kevin Koger, defensive end Craig Roh, tailback Fitzgerald Toussaint, defensive end Ryan Van Bergen and safety Jordan Kovacs (who also won the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award).