After conquering every Southeastern Conference foe he faced this football season, Georgia's Kirby Smart was named Wednesday as the league's coach of the year after a vote by his peers.
Smart has guided the No. 3 Bulldogs to a 12-1 record and a national semifinal berth in the Rose Bowl against No. 2 Oklahoma on New Year's Day. Georgia swept its Eastern Division opposition for the first time since the league went to divisional play in 1992, and the Bulldogs atoned for their lone loss — a 40-17 whipping at Auburn on Nov. 11 — by pulling away last Saturday at the SEC title game in Atlanta for a 28-7 thumping of the Tigers.
Vince Dooley was named SEC coach of the year five times in his 25 seasons with the Bulldogs, but Smart is the first Georgia coach to win the honor since Mark Richt in 2005.
Georgia and Auburn combined to produce six of the league's seven individual award winners, with Bulldogs junior inside linebacker Roquan Smith earning defensive player of the year and quarterback Jake Fromm the freshman of the year. Award winners for Auburn were running back Kerryon Johnson, the offensive player of the year; kicker Daniel Carlson, the special teams player of the year; and Braden Smith, who received the Jacobs Award as the league's top blocker.
LSU quarterback Danny Etling, who graduated in May with a 3.72 grade point average in mass communications, was tabbed scholar-athlete of the year.
Smith has racked up 113 tackles this season and is Georgia's first SEC defensive player of the year since defensive end David Pollack won it in 2004. Fromm has thrown for 2,173 yards and 21 touchdowns this season, and he ranks sixth nationally in passing efficiency.
Being named the SEC's top freshman is nothing new for Georgia players, with nine having received the honor since 1990 — Fromm, running back Nick Chubb (2014), receiver A.J. Greene (2008), running back Knowshon Moreno (2007), quarterbacks David Greene (2001) and Quincy Carter (1998), linebacker Randall Godfrey (1992), quarterback Eric Zeier (1991), and running back Garrison Hearst (1990).
Johnson led the league in rushing with 1,320 yards and tallied an SEC-best 19 touchdowns despite missing two games with injuries. Carlson, the league's all-time leading scorer, became the first to win the special teams award on multiple occasions.
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