The Texas A&M football team's inaugural season in the Southeastern Conference was celebrated at the Aggies' annual team banquet on Friday at the Zone Club at Kyle Field.
The Aggies compiled a 10-2 overall record and earned a bowl invitation to the 2013 AT&T Cotton Bowl on Jan. 4 in Dallas, Texas. A&M had a 6-2 record against SEC opponents, which tied for second in the Western Division. Among the highlights of the 2012 season was the win over No. 1 Alabama in Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala., an undefeated record away from Kyle Field, the program's first 10-win season in more than a decade and its highest BCS ranking since 1998. Among the individual highlights were Johnny Manziel (Kerrville, Texas) winning the Heisman Trophy and the Davey O'Brien Award, Luke Joeckel (Arlington, Texas) winning the Outland Trophy and five Aggies earning All-America honors.
Highlighting the night was the announcement of the Aggie Heart Award, which is the highest honor for a Texas A&M football player. Winning the 2012 award was senior defensive tackle Spencer Nealy (San Antonio, Texas). The inspirational leader of the Aggies' defense, Nealy shifted from defensive end to tackle during preseason camp and responded with 37 tackles, including six tackles for loss, while starting every game for the Aggies. The Heart Award is presented to a senior who has completed his eligibility and displays the intangibles such as effort, desire, determination, competitiveness, leadership and courage.
Receiving the Academic Excellence Award was senior defensive back Steven Terrell (Allen, Texas), who has started the last 15 games at safety for the Aggies. Terrell will graduate from Texas A&M this weekend with a degree in sports management and a minor in business administration. The 2013 AT&T Cotton Bowl Scholar-Athlete graduated with a 3.24 grade point average.
The Coaches' Choice Awards went to a pair of the Aggies' senior leaders - Sean Porter (Schertz, Texas) and Ryan Swope (Austin, Texas). Porter and Swope's leadership, along with their play on the field was instrumental to the success of the Aggies' season.
The team's Offensive, Defensive and Special Teams MVP Awards went to four players.
Being named Co-Offensive MVPs were senior center Patrick Lewis (Reserve, La.) and Manziel. With Lewis responsible for maintaining the offense's fast pace, Manziel and the Aggies led the SEC in rushing, passing, scoring and total offense and were the only offense in the nation to rank in the top 15 in all four statistical categories.
The Defensive MVP was junior Damontre Moore, who flourished after moving from linebacker to defensive end. He led the team in tackles, sacks and tackles for loss, and became the first defensive lineman to lead the team in tackles since 1993.
The Special Teams MVP was junior Ben Malena, who was a mainstay of virtually every special teams unit in addition to the starting running back.
Other honors were: Weight Room Off-Season MVP: Brandon Williams (Brookshire, Texas); Defensive Scout Team MVP: Caden Smith (Roscoe, Texas); Co-Offensive Scout Team MVP: Edward Pope (Carthage, Texas) and Tra Carson (Texarkana, Texas)
2012 Texas A&M Football Season Awards
Academic Excellence Award: Steven Terrell
Weight Room Off-Season MVP: Brandon Williams
Defensive Scout Team MVP: Caden Smith
Co-Offensive Scout Team MVP: Edward Pope, Tra Carson
Special Teams MVP: Ben Malena
Defensive MVP: Damontre Moore
Co-Offensive MVP: Patrick Lewis, Johnny Manziel
Coaches' Choice Award: Sean Porter, Ryan Swope
Heart Award: Spencer Nealy
Team Captains: Steven Terrell, Sean Porter, Patrick Lewis and Ryan Swope