The 2014-15 athletic year has all but come to a close, and that can only mean one thing: end-of-year awards. Beginning Monday, June 1, Inside NU will be handing out seven different awards to celebrate the top players, coaches and games of the year in Northwestern sports.
However, it's not just our decision; it's also yours. Today, Monday, May 25, we are releasing the nominees for all seven awards. At the bottom of each page is a poll, and that's where you can make your vote count. Voting will be open for a week, and will close at 11 p.m. on Sunday, May 31. Winners will be announced the following week. Without further ado...
Oftentimes end-of-year awards focus solely on the past season, and with good reason. But for many college athletes, the end of a season also means the end of a career. That's why we've decided to hand out the Career Achievement Award to the departing senior that accomplished the most during his or her four year career at Northwestern.
Here are the nominees for Inside NU's 2015 Northwestern Athlete Career Achievement Award:
Ibraheim Campbell, Football - From the day he won a starting safety spot as a redshirt freshman, Campbell was an impact player for Pat Fitzgerald and Northwestern. He was NU's leading tackler in his first season with 100, and while his numbers declined every year since, he developed into one of the best all-around safeties in the Big Ten. He was a major contributor on Northwestern's Gator Bowl winning squad, and finished his career tied for third on NU's all-time interceptions list with 11.
Mike McMullan, Wrestling - McMullan made history in his time at Northwestern, becoming the first ever Northwestern wrestler to earn not one, not two, not three, but four All-American honors in his time with the program. A heavyweight, McMullan came ever so close to winning a national championship -- he finished 3rd at the NCAAs as a freshman, junior and senior, and 2nd as a sophomore -- but finally broke through and won a Big Ten Championship as a senior.
Tyler Miller, Men's Soccer - Miller had a brilliant career in Evanston. After winning the starting goalkeeper job as a freshman, he was named to the All-Big Ten First Team three times, and was a unanimous selection for Goalkeeper of the Year as a senior. He also won two Big Ten titles with the Wildcats, and in 2014, conceded just 13 goals in 22 games. He was drafted by MLS's Seattle Sounders in January, and was recently called up to the U.S. Under-23 National Team. For more on Miller, we profiled him and his European adventure back in January.
Kara Mupo, Lacrosse - Despite battling through injuries, including one that ended her 2013 season before it even got started, Mupo had an illustrious four year career at Northwestern. She was a key contributor on both the 2011 and 2012 national championship teams, scoring two goals in the 2011 final to help NU edge Maryland, 8-7. She finished her career with 138 total goals.
Brandon Vitabile, Football - Vitabile started every single game -- all 50 of 'em -- of his four year career at NU, and was not only a rock in the middle of the offensive line, but was one of the main offensive leaders. He was signed by the Indianapolis Colts as an undrafted free agent in early May.
Henry Bushnell: I'm going with Miller. It's tempting to go with Campbell, because he's been the most visible, especially lately, but Miller was outstanding all four years. And McMullan is actually second for me.
Zach Pereles: Miller and Campbell are probably more enticing options, but Vitabile was a consistent anchor for Northwestern's offensive line, a high-character and high-football IQ guy and a perfect leader, so he gets my vote.
Josh Burton: College wrestling doesn't always get the notice it deserves, but that doesn't mean wrestlers like McMullan -- who was named an All-American an absurd four times in a row -- don't deserve acclaim for incredible careers. That's why he gets my vote for outstanding four-year career. It's hard to be that dominant in a sport for that long.
David Gernon: Three All-Big Ten selections is an achievement I'm sure most athletes who come to Evanston would be thrilled with as the pinnacle of their careers, so to top that by being selected to the U-23 team in your sport makes Miller my choice. This can also be thought of as a future career achievement choice, because, hey, Tim Howard is getting old and who knows how far Miller will go.
Josh Rosenblat: Northwestern's wrestling program is quietly one of, if not the best program at the University right now. And McMullan is just another example of the success the team and head coach Drew Pariano have put out in recent years.
Kevin Dukovic: Brandon Vitabile embodies what it means to be a Northwestern student-athlete. He thrived on and off the field: starting every game and achieving Academic All-Big Ten honors for four years. Plus we share the same major: economics. So he's got my vote.
Voting has ended. Check throughout the week, as we'll be announcing winners Tuesday through Friday.