The following individual awards were presented at the team's season-ending banquet, held Dec. 11 at the Radisson Plaza Hotel in the Kalamazoo Center.
Team MVP Jason Feldpausch
Offensive MVP Philip Reed
Defensive MVP Jason Babin
Special Teams MVP Tyrone Walker
Golden Horseshoe Award (special teams play) Kendrick Mosley
Special Teams Points Winner Jermaine Foreste
John Gill Scholar-Athlete Award Jason Malloy
Mike Gary "Team" Award Alex Gardner
Offensive Stallion of the Year (scout teams play) Ameer Ismail
Defensive Stallion of the Year Jimmie Vincent
Special Teams Stallion of the Year Paul Tithof
Hard Hat (symbolizing toughness, perseverance) Chris Browning
Iron Bronco Jeff Westgate
Permanent Team Captain Carlos Smith
Offensive Captain Jake Gasaway
Defensive Captain Bryan Lape
Special Teams Captain Jason Feldpausch
* Ranked No. 1 in total defense (as of Dec. 11)
* MAC Defensive Player of the Year (Jason Babin)
* Six Player of the Week selections
* Second most punt return yards in a season (Kendrick Mosley - 440 yards)
* Limited "The Untouchables" - Virginia Tech's backfield duo of Lee Suggs and Kevin Jones to
84 combined rushing yards
* Held three teams to less than 100 yards rushing: UCF (62), Buffalo (75), CMU (82)
* Held three teams to less than 100 yards passing: Indiana St. (42), Ball State (45), CMU (77)
* Extended sacks streak to 33 games
* Logged the most interceptions (14) since 1995
* Met three schools ranked in the Top 25 polls
* Played before second largest crowd in school history (107,856 @ Michigan)
* Made five television appearances
* Broke or tied six school records
* Recorded first win at Central Michigan in 29 years
* Had two players invited to the Paradise Bowl All-Star Game
* State Farm Eddie Robinson Coach of Distinction Award finalist (Gary Darnell)
* Recognized by AFCA for a 90+ percent graduation rate (one of nine schools)
* Returned four kicks for touchdowns (2 punts by Mosley, 2 kickoffs by Walker)
* Produced fifth 1,000-yard rusher in six seasons
Western Michigan received extensive television coverage in 2002, playing five games on regional cable television. WMU has appeared on television 28 times over the last six seasons.
@ Michigan ESPN Regional
Virginia Tech ESPN Regional
@ Buffalo Adelphia 13
UCF Sunshine Network
Toledo FOX Sports Net
In the summer of 2002, the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) recognized Western Michigan for its success in graduating student-athletes.
In a survey conducted by the AFCA, Western Michigan was one of nine schools that posted a graduation rate of 90 percent or better over a five-year period.
The survey focused on scholarship athletes who enrolled as freshmen or transfers during the 1996-97 academic year and included data collected from 80 Division I programs.
Northwestern earned the AFCA's 2002 Academic Achievement Award with a 100 percent graduation rate.
The eight other schools in the 90 percent group were Boston College, Duke, Notre Dame, Nebraska, Penn State, Rice, Vanderbilt and WMU.
The Football Broncos participated in three key community service projects in 2002. The first was a car wash benefiting the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Kalamazoo, held in conjunction with the Spring Game.
Over the summer, the Broncos renovated a deteriorating house to assist the Kalamazoo Valley Chapter of Habitat for Humanity.
During the season, Bronco players made six visits to the children's ward at Bronson Methodist Hospital taking part in activities with the patients.
CNNSI.com All-America, Honorable Mention
MAC Defensive Player of the Year
All-MAC First Team
All-MAC Honorable Mention
MAC West Division Players of the Week
Philip Reed, 10/28 - Offensive
Jason Feldpausch, 9/2 - Defensive
Tony Carr, 11/11 - Defensive
Jason Babin, 11/25 - Defensive
Kendrick Mosley, 10/7 - Special Teams
Tyrone Walker, 11/11 - Special Teams
Verizon Academic All-District IV First Team
Paradise Bowl invitees
State Farm Eddie Robinson
Coach of Distinction Award
Gary Darnell, finalist
School records that were either tied or broken during the 2002 season.
Pass Sacks, Season: 15, Jason Babin
Tackles for loss, Season: 26, Jason Babin
Blocked Kicks, Season (tied): 2, Jason Babin
Longest Kickoff Return, (tied): 100, Tyrone
Walker vs. E. Michigan
Most Punt Returns, Season: 40
Most Return Yards, Season: 1,541
Noteworthy items from the 2002 season * the Bronco defense gave up the fewest first downs in the MAC (217) and ranked second in third-down conversion (35.7) * QB Chad Munson notched the eighth-best passing season in school history (2,160) while RB Philip Reed amassed the 10th-best rushing campaign (1,053). Reed also rushed for four touchdowns at Bowling Green, tying the third-best mark in school annals * Munson's four touchdown passes in his debut versus Indiana State tied for the third-best game total * kickers Anthony Apa (22-for-22) and Robert Menchinger (12-for-12) gave WMU a flawless season on extra point attempts * senior P Matt Steffen booted a career-long punt of 59 yards at Ball State * Kendrick Mosley's 138 punt return yards versus Buffalo was the highest total in the MAC this season * sophomore Tyrone Walker was the only MAC player to return two kickoffs for touchdowns * sophomore CB Tony Carr picked off three interceptions in the Eastern Michigan game, a MAC season-high, and the most by a Bronco in 36 years.
COACH GARY DARNELL
WMU Record: 40-29, sixth season
Career Record: 43-33, seventh season
Darnell has guided WMU to a pair of MAC West Division titles (1999, 2000) and back-to-back appearances in the MAC Championship Game. He was named 2000 MAC Coach of the Year and was a finalist for the 2001 and 2002 Eddie Robinson Coach of Distinction Award. Darnell ranks 14th all-time in the MAC in winning percentage and in league wins.
QUOTING DARNELL LOOKING AHEAD TO NEXT SEASON:
"Getting the final extra inch is really the essence of success. We played 59 minutes and 30 seconds in five ball games this year - and know what - that wasn't enough. We have to learn to play 60 minutes. We have to make sure our players understand the concept that you play anywhere between 40-to-60 plays in a game to get those one-to-four plays that make a difference. That's one of the things we have to learn to do a better job of, so when it comes time to make a difference, you do. I think we have to do a better job with the fundamental things that make you win."
THE MID-AMERICAN CONFERENCE:
"This league has gotten so difficult. There's no gimmies. The strengths of the programs and the things that have happened, virtually every team in this league has done something facility wise, which five years ago wasn't happening. Now everybody is doing something. Television has been a big thing in recruiting. If you look at the rosters now as opposed to five-six years ago, you'll certainly see we're not a conference with barriers. It's not a regional conference anymore. Every team has players from different parts of the country. You take Toledo, they've got their little nest in Pittsburgh, in Canada and they're recruiting Texas pretty hard. Bowling Green has a real system going in Georgia, and they also go to Florida. Eastern and Kent now have most of their guys coming from the east coast. It's starting to be more of a national-level conference."
"It never gets any easier. The competitiveness of the league has changed so dramatically. The one big difference is that we don't have to show them pictures anymore. We showed them pictures of the Bill Brown Center and pictures of the Seelye Center. But all that stuff is in place now. I would say that for the first time in the history of this school, things are lined up."