It's time once again to present the season-ending awards that capture the highs and lows of the Penn State football season.

In the spirit of the Big Ten postseason honors, we've added the name of longtime Penn State broadcaster and unofficial ambassador Fran Fisher to the awards, joining his pal, George Paterno.

Without further ado, we present the 2012 Fisher-Paterno Awards.

Offensive player of the year: In a close vote, quarterback Matt McGloin edges wide receiver Allen Robinson and running back Zach Zwinak. McGloin led the Big Ten with 3,271 passing yards and 24 touchdown passes and steered the offense in the right direction.

Defensive player of the year: Linebacker Michael Mauti beats tackle Jordan Hill and linebacker Gerald Hodges in another tight race. Mauti set the tone early in the season, forced three fumbles, recovered another, intercepted three passes and had two sacks.

Rookie of the year: Defensive end Deion Barnes gets the nod over tight end Kyle Carter. Barnes was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year after he led Penn State with 10 tackles for loss, six sacks and three forced fumbles.

Unsung hero of the year: Middle linebacker Glenn Carson had a very solid season playing in the shadows cast by outside linebackers Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges. Carson finished with 85 tackles, third on the team, but didn't receive Big Ten honorable mention.


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Special teams player of the year: Linebacker Mike Hull blocked a punt against Ohio State that was recovered for a touchdown and recovered a fumbled punt against Nebraska. He also made numerous eye-popping hits in kick coverage.

Best game: Penn State 24, Wisconsin 21 (OT). The Nittany Lions trailed 14-7 after a rocky first half before rallying to take the lead in the fourth quarter. The Badgers, however, tied it on Curt Phillips' short touchdown pass with 18 seconds left in regulation. In overtime, Sam Ficken kicked a 37-yard field goal before Wisconsin's Kyle French missed from 45 yards, giving Penn State the win.

Worst game: Virginia 17, Penn State 16. The Cavaliers won despite turning it over four times and committing 10 penalties because Sam Ficken missed four field goals and had an extra point blocked. The Lions dropped to 0-2 for the first time since 2001.

Best play: Penn State trailed Wisconsin 14-13 in the fourth quarter and faced fourth-and-6 from the Badgers 41 when Matt McGloin found tight end Jesse James near the 30. James turned the corner and raced down the left sideline for the go-ahead score.

Worst plays: Sam Ficken missed four field goals, including a 20-yarder and a 42-yarder as time expired at Virginia, enabling the Cavaliers to win.

Surprise of the year: Besides Penn State finishing 8-4, it had to be the emergence of Matt McGloin as the top passer in the Big Ten. After two years of being in and out of the lineup, McGloin won the job in the spring and set school records for passing yards in a season and career touchdown passes.

Disappointment of the year: It had to be Bill Belton, who began the season as the No. 1 running back after the transfer of Silas Redd to USC. Belton sprained an ankle in the opener, never looked comfortable again and saw limited action in November.

Best moment: Penn State held a moving ceremony and tribute on Senior Day, unveiling the year "2012" on the facade of the suites above the east stands at Beaver Stadium, where this season's team will be remembered along with the school's unbeaten and championship teams.

Worst moment: Linebacker Michael Mauti suffered a torn ACL in his left knee when he was chop-blocked by two Indiana players in the first quarter of a 45-22 win over the Hoosiers.

Paul Posluszny Award (for academics): John Urschel, Penn State's right guard, graduated in May with a 4.0 GPA in mathematics. He's a strong candidate to be named an Academic All-American.

Jerome Hayes Award (for tough luck): It has to be Michael Mauti, who suffered a torn ACL for the third time in his Penn State career against Indiana.

Willis Reed Award (for inspiration): Michael Mauti served as the team leader throughout the last tumultuous year. His teammates thought so highly of him that they wore his No. 42 on the left side of their helmets in the season finale against Wisconsin.

Stephon Morris Award (for best interview): Penn State cornerback Stephon Morris' name has been put on this award after he gave a moving 12-minute interview five days before his final game and provided honest answers all season.

George Carlin Award: Penn State coach Bill O'Brien accidentally uttered one of the seven words you can't say on television when asked about his players following the overtime win over Wisconsin.

Revenge Award: Penn State thumped Illinois 38-14 a few months after several Fighting Illini coaches went to State College to recruit the Nittany Lions when the NCAA sanctions were announced.

Dave Witvoet Award (for controversial call): To the Big Ten replay officials who didn't overturn the call on the field that Penn State tight end Matt Lehman fumbled before he crossed the goal line in the fourth quarter of a 32-23 loss to Nebraska.

Quote of the year (run ner-up): "Losing's a terrible feeling. It's absolutely miserable. It's like a part of you dies, to be honest with you." - Penn State coach Bill O'Brien after the Nebraska loss.

Quote of the year: "You know what, who wouldn't want to play for Coach O'Brien and his staff? Who the hell wouldn't want to play for this damn team?" - Penn State cornerback Stephon Morris after several of his teammates transferred following the NCAA sanctions.