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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — The USFL announced its year-end awards Wednesday morning ahead of the inaugural postseason for the spring football league.
Three of the four most prestigious awards were handed down to arguably the top team from the regular season in the New Jersey Generals, who ended the year winning their last nine games.
Wide receiver KaVonta Turpin was named the most valuable player while his teammate, running back Darius Victor won offensive player of the year honors. Their head coach, Mike Riley, was named the top coach this season and the defensive player of the year award was given to Chris Odom of the Houston Gamblers.
The awards were voted on by all eight head coaches in the USFL. All three players also managed to secure a spot on the All-USFL teams.
“KaVontae Turpin, Darius Victor, Chris Odom, and Mike Riley epitomize the outstanding football played in the USFL’s first season” USFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Daryl Johnston said. “They represent the best of the best in the USFL, and we look forward to giving our fans more exciting performances during the playoffs in Canton.”
Turpin not only led the league in receiving yards this season, but he also was a threat on special teams, recording the first-ever punt return for a touchdown in the revitalized USFL. He accounted for four receiving touchdowns and a rushing score as well on top of his 921 all-purpose yards, which was good enough for fourth-most this season.
Victor was just another factor for defenses to worry about in trying to stop the USFL’s most prolific offense. The running back helped New Jersey dominate on the ground where they averaged a league-leading 160 yards per game. The 230-pound back finished with 10 total touchdowns in just 10 games.
And as mentioned earlier, the Generals have continued their dominance since their Week 1 loss to the Birmingham Stallions by winning the final nine games by an average of a touchdown.
Odom, the lone non-General to win a year-end award, was as dominant as a player could be. leading the USFL in sacks (12.5) and blocking three field goals. His dominance was on display in the Gambler’s Week 9 win over the Stallions where he helped hold Birmingham to just 15 points. Houston was the only team to defeat Birmingham in the regular season.
Despite Odom’s efforts, however, the Gamblers (3-7) failed to qualify for the playoffs in Canton, Ohio this weekend. The Generals (9-1) did clinch the first playoff spot and will face off against the Philadelphia Stars (6-4) for the third time this season and the second time in as many weeks. New Jersey has won both previous contests.
The Stallions (9-1) will be taking on the New Orleans Breakers (6-4) for the third time as well. Birmingham was victorious in both games including a nail-bitter in Week 8 when kicker Brandon Aubrey connected on a 29-yard field goal to give the Stallions a 10-9 lead with just 1:48 left in the game.
The Generals and Stars will be the first matchup on June 25 from Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. Kickoff will be 2 p.m. followed by a concert featuring country music star Trace Adkins. The Stallions will then take on the Breakers at 7 p.m.