Big Ten Announces Creation of Rodgers-Dwight Return Specialist of the Year

 Indiana punt returner Mitchell Paige has returned two punts for touchdowns in 2015.  Image: HeraldTimes Online

Indiana punt returner Mitchell Paige has returned two punts for touchdowns in 2015. Image: HeraldTimes Online

Big Ten Media Relations

ROSEMONT, Ill. – The Big Ten announced today a number of enhancements to the conference’s postseason football awards program, including the creation of the Rodgers-Dwight Return Specialist of the Year. Named after former standouts Johnny Rodgers of Nebraska and Tim Dwight of Iowa, the annual trophy will honor the conference’s top performer on kickoff and/or punt returns.

The Big Ten will continue to celebrate its past while recognizing current students with 20 different trophies bearing the names of former standouts. The distinguished names on these football awards honor just a small sampling of the countless students and coaches who have contributed to the conference’s rich and storied history. The full list of awards, along with a breakdown of the former standouts appearing in each award’s name, is attached.

Rodgers and Dwight are scheduled to be recognized during Friday’s Hawkeyes-Cornhuskers game. In addition, all Big Ten trophy namesakes are invited to attend the Big Ten Football Championship Game and 2015 honorees that are present will be recognized at the game on Dec. 5.

A two-time All-American during his career at Nebraska from 1970-72, Rodgers claimed both the Heisman Trophy and Walter Camp Award in 1972 after leading Nebraska to back-to-back national titles in 1970 and 1971. Rodgers was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2000 and earlier this year was named the first-team return specialist on the Football Writers Association of America’s 75th Anniversary All-America Team.

Dwight was a two-time first-team All-American as a punt returner at Iowa, including earning consensus All-America honors in 1997. After returning three punts for touchdowns as a senior in 1997, he finished his career as the Big Ten record-holder with five touchdowns and 1,102 yards on punt returns in his time in Iowa City. During his senior season, he led the nation in punt returns and topped the conference in that category for the third time. Dwight finished seventh in the 1997 Heisman Trophy balloting and set the Iowa career record with 2,271 receiving yards.

Also new in 2015, the number of All-Big Ten honorees has been expanded to include a third team in addition to first-team, second-team and honorable mention selections. Each of the three teams will include a return specialist. The 2015 All-Big Ten teams and individual award winners will be announced live on BTN over two nights on Monday, Nov. 30 and Tuesday, Dec. 1.