Dec. 2, 2001

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Senior tailback Jonathan Wells has been selected by his teammates as the Most Valuable Player on the 2001 Ohio State football team. Wells received the honor at Sunday’s team appreciation banquet at the Adams Mark Hotel.

“We had a lot of players step up this year, but Jonathan had an outstanding season and clearly played the best football of his career this year as a senior,” said Ohio State coach Jim Tressel. “He was a leader for us both on and off the field and had the respect and admiration of his teammates.”

Wells led the Buckeyes in rushing and scoring, netting 1,257 yards and scoring 15 touchdowns on 232 carries, an average of 5.4 yards per carry. He finished the season with a flourish, topping the 100-yard mark in each of the last five games, including a career-high 192 yards in the home finale against Illinois. He was on his way to an even better day the following week at Michigan, rambling for 122 yards in the first half before sitting out the second half with leg cramps and finishing with 129 yards.

In addition to amassing 717 yards in the Buckeyes’ last five games, he also scored eight touchdowns.

Wells is the 16th back in Ohio State history to top the 1,000-yard mark. His current total of 1,257 yards is the 11th best in school history. The 6-1, 230-pound native of River Ridge, La. now has 2,344 career rushing yards, a total that ranks 12th in school annals.

Senior linebacker Joe Cooper also was honored by his teammates, winning the Most Inspirational Player Award for the second consecutive year. Cooper, a two-time captain for the Buckeyes, finished the regular season with 74 total tackles and led the team in solo stops with 60.

“Joe is an emotional leader who lays it all on the line every time he takes the field,” said Tressel of the Columbus native, who was granted an extra year of eligibility last spring by the NCAA. “I really feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to coach him this past year.” Sophomore tight end Ben Hartsock was the winner of the John W. Galbreath Award for Academic Excellence. Hartsock, who earlier this year was nominated for the CoSida Academic All-America team, has a 3.65 grade point average in biology.

A complete list of award winners follows:
Most Valuable Player – Jonathan Wells

W.W. Hayes Outstanding Player in the Michigan Game Award – Jonathan Wells

Bo Rein Most Inspirational Award – Joe Cooper

Bill Willis Defensive Player of the Year Award – Joe Cooper

Archie Griffin Offensive Player of the Year Award – LeCharles Bentley

John Galbreath Award for Academic Excellence – Ben Hartsock

Ike Kelley Special Teams Award – Andy Groom

Randy Gradishar Linebacker Award – Matt Wilhelm

Arnie Chonko Defensive Back Award – Mike Doss

Jack Stephenson Defensive Lineman Award – Mike Collins

Jim Parker Offensive Lineman Award – Tyson Walter

Paul Warfield Receiver Award – Michael Jenkins

Rex Kern Offensive Back Award – Jamar Martin

Buckeye Boosters Outstanding First Year Offensive Player – Chris Vance

Buckeye Boosters Outstanding First Year Defensive Award – Dustin Fox

Sigma Alpha Epsilon Alumni Association Award – Tim Anderson