McKnight Trophy Winner (Defensive MVP) - Missouri LB Andrew Wilson
As Shane Ray gathered the fumble that ultimately sealed Missouri’s second-ever 12-win season, linebacker Andrew Wilson still wasn’t finished fighting.
“I started screaming and I chased him all the way into the end zone, which was not smart because I was dead tired after that,” he said with a laugh. “That was an awesome play.”
Wilson had every reason to be tired on Friday at AT&T Stadium. The five-year senior capped a fulfilling career by making 15 tackles and earning the McKnight Trophy, awarded to the Cotton Bowl’s most valuable defensive player.
“Anybody on this defense could have gotten this trophy,” he said. “I got the luck of the draw because everybody played great.”
As the middle linebacker on a 4-2-5 defense that featured an All-American defensive end and a few more potential high draft picks, Wilson zipped around blocks and plugged gaps where Oklahoma State runners tried to run through. Wilson’s 15 tackles gave him twice as many tackles as anyone else on the field at AT&T Stadium.
In fact, his 15 tackles were the most by any Missouri defender in a bowl game since Sean Weatherspoon had 17 tackles in the 2008 Alamo Bowl.
Winning the defensive MVP award was an honor for Wilson, but it’s not like he doesn’t already have this type of hardware. In the 2011 Independence Bowl win over North Carolina, Wilson led the Tigers with nine tackles and forced a fumble to help key the win. He was awarded the defensive MVP in that game as well.
While Friday night’s performance was more efficient than his 2011 one, it was a little more personal than any other accolade could have been. When Wilson recorded his seventh tackle of the night in the third quarter, he passed his father, Jay Wilson, who finished his Missouri career (1980-83) as the school’s career leader in tackles.
Wilson couldn’t have asked for a better end to one of the most successful seasons in school history, even if he was too tired to celebrate.