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Maryland nominates Craddock and Cummings for B1G Athlete of the Year

Are Brad Craddock and Taylor Cummings an item? No, they're Maryland's nominees for the Big Ten men's and women's Athlete of the Year awards.

Eric Meyers

Here's a B1G tradition that goes back more than 30 years -- 1982 for men and 1983 for women. Each year the conference selects one male and one female as its Athlete of the Year. The men's award is named in honor of Jesse Owens, the great Ohio State track and field star. The women's award is, as far as I know, currently nameless.

Those with long memories and who pay attention to such matters may recall that the women's award was at one time also named for a Big Ten track and field great, Suzy Favor, who won nine NCAA championships while running for Wisconsin. The conference removed her name in 2012 when the website The Smoking Gun reported that Favor, then known by her married name Suzy Favor Hamilton, had worked as an escort prostitute under the name ‘Kelly Lundy' (and yes, she was married with one child).

Each of the now 14 members of the conference submits the name of one male and one female athlete for consideration. A pre-selected panel of media members (of which I am not one) then selects the winners. The winners will be announced Wednesday, June 24.

Past men's winners include Steve Alford, Jim Abbott, Glen Rice and Luke Donald. Some of the notable women's winners are Katie Douglas, Kelly Mazzante, Hannah Nielson, Shannon Smith and Amanda Kessel. You can see a complete list of previous winners on the award's Wikipedia page.

Maryland's men's nominee

Brad Craddock - football

Certainly, one would have to consider Craddock a bona fide contender for the men's award and a worthy Terrapins' nominee. The junior from Adelaide, Australia, led Maryland in scoring with 98 points. He connected on all 44 of his extra point attempts and made 18 consecutive field goals before missing a 54-yard attempt in the final regular season game against Rutgers -- his only missed field goal of the season.

Craddock made three field goals in a game on three different occasions in 2014 and connected on a record-breaking long field goal of 57 yards against Ohio State. He was 2-3 from beyond 50 yards.

In 2014, Craddock became Maryland's first Football Writers Association of America First Team All-American since 2002. He also received the Big Ten's Bakken-Andersen Kicker of the Year Award.

His competitors for the award are:

Illinois: Tyler Jay, baseball

Indiana: Tevin Coleman, football

Iowa: Brandon Scherff, football

Michigan: Zach Hyman, ice hockey

Michigan State: Jake Hildebrand, ice hockey

Minnesota: Luca Wieland, track and field

Nebraska: Robert Kokesh, wrestling

Northwestern: Jordan Wilimovsky, swimming and diving

Ohio State: Logan Stieber, wrestling

Penn State: Matt Brown, wrestling

Purdue: Steele Johnson, swimming and diving

Rutgers: Anthony Ashnault, wrestling

Wisconsin: Frank Kaminsky, basketball

Maryland's women's nominee

Taylor Cummings - lacrosse

So for those among you who have a minimum of a passing familiarity with the overall performance and success of Maryland's athletics programs beyond football and men's basketball, then I say welcome to the no-brainer segment of this story. To those of you who are not familiar with Taylor Cummings and her lengthy list of achievements, I can only ask, "Where the hell have you been?"

I'll go out on a limb here and make a statement not backed by any research and say that not only is the junior midfielder from Ellicott City the most decorated athlete currently at Maryland but she is the most decorated athlete currently competing in the Big Ten. Here's the list from Maryland's website:

  • 2015 Tewaaraton Award winner

  • 2015 Honda Award winner

  • 2015 IWLCA First Team All-American

  • 2015 IWLCA First Team All-Region

  • 2015 NCAA Championship MOP

  • 2015 NCAA All-Tournament Team

  • 2015 Big Ten Midfielder of the Year

  • 2015 All-Big Ten

  • 2014-15 U.S. National Team member

  • 2014 Tewaaraton Award winner

  • 2014 Honda Award winner

  • 2014 IWLCA National Midfielder of the Year

  • 2014 IWLCA First Team All-American

  • 2014 IWLCA First Team All-Region

  • 2014 NCAA Championship MOP

  • 2014 ACC Championship All-Tournament Team

  • 2014 First Team All-ACC

  • 2014 ESPY Best Female College Athlete nominee

  • 2013 IWLCA First Team All-American

  • 2013 ACC Freshman of the Year

  • 2013 All-ACC

For those who somehow don't know, the Tewaaraton Award is essentially lacrosse's equivalent of football's Heisman Trophy. Although she is not the first player to win the Tewaaraton more than once, she is the only player to win it as a junior. And those repeat wins as the Honda Award wins are also no small achievement, either.

This season, Cummings led the Terps in assists (37), points (100), ground balls (41), draw controls (143) and caused turnovers (36) while scoring more goals (65) than anyone on the team except freshman attacker Megan Whittle. And her team has done well since her arrival at Maryland, too.

In her freshman year, the Terps won their first 22 games but fell one game short of winning a national championship when they lost in triple overtime to North Carolina. Maryland again dropped a single game when Cummings was a sophomore but that came in the middle of the season as the Terps finished 23-1 capturing the National Championship with a 15-12 win over Syracuse. The Terps repeated as national champs in 2015 finishing the season 21-1 capping it off with a 9-8 win over North Carolina for Maryland's 12th NCAA title and 13th national championship.

Her competitors for the award are:

Illinois: Stephanie Ritchartz, track and field

Indiana: Jessica Parratto. swimming and diving

Iowa: Samantha Logic, basketball

Michigan: Sierra Romero, softball

Michigan State: Leah O'Connor, track and field

Minnesota: Amanda Zahui B., basketball

Nebraska: Lizabeth Kuhlkin, bowling

Northwestern: Hannah Kim, golf

Ohio State:Ashley Bauer, rowing

Penn State: Micah Hancock, volleyball

Purdue: Devynne Charlton, track and field

Rutgers: Betnijah Laney, basketball

Wisconsin: Ivy Martin, swimming and diving

The chances that Maryland will sweep both awards are slim. In the 34 years in which men and women have been eligible, the same school has won both awards in the same year only twice. The first came in 1998 when defensive back Charles Woodson and softball player Sara Griffin won as Michigan Wolverines. Five years later, Illinois swept the awards with hurdler Patricia Felicien winning the women's award while tennis player Amer Delic and Wrestler Matt Lackey shared the men's award for the only time in history. The women's award has been shared twice in 1991 and 1997.

On the men's side, the University of Michigan has produced the most winners with seven. Three schools, Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin, have each posted six women's winners. Excepting first-year additions Maryland and Rutgers, Nebraska is the only conference member with neither a men's nor women's winner. It is joined on the women's side by Indiana.

By sport, wrestling has produced the most men's winners with eight followed by football with seven. Basketball players have won five men's awards, swimming and diving four, gymnastics (yes, the B1G has men's gymnastics) and track and field three each. Ice hockey, with a pair of winners is the only other sport to produce multiple winners. Finally, baseball, golf and tennis have produced one winner each.

On the women's side, track and field (including cross country) is the runaway leader with 10 awards. Six winners have come off the basketball court and three off the softball field. Swimming, volleyball, soccer and lacrosse have each had two winners. (Although it's possible to say that lacrosse has 2.5 and field hockey has 1.5 since 1987 winner Jennifer Averill is listed for both sports.) Joining field hockey with one stand-alone winner are diving, fencing, golf and ice hockey.

The conference will announce the winners on Wednesday, June 24.