Maryland's Danny O'Brien Earns Manning Award Player of the Week Honor park
Danny O'Brien, a sophomore quarterback from the University of Maryland, has been selected as the first Manning Award Player of the Week for 2011. The top quarterback performances in the nation are selected each week and then fans vote for what they think was the best effort of the week on Facebook. The winner of the fan balloting earns the Manning weekly honor.
O'Brien connected on 31-of-44 passes for 348 yards and a touchdown in a Monday night win over ACC rival Miami. The sophomore led a Maryland attack which tallied 499 yards of total offense, its most since 2005. His 385 total yards led the ACC and ranked third nationally. On the first drive of the game, the Kernersville, N.C., product connected on 6-of-7 passes for 72 yards, including a key fourth-down conversion from Miami's 36-yard line. He capped the drive with a 10-yard TD pass to Ronnie Tyler. Then on his final drive of the game, the Terrapin signal-caller connected on a key 52-yard pass to Kevin Dorsey which would lead to the go-ahead field goal with 1:39 remaining in the game. Maryland would ice the victory with a 54-yard interception return for a touchdown.
In the voting, O'Brien and his fans held off a quick start by the supporters of Baylor star quarterback Robert Griffin, who led the Bears to a thrilling upset of TCU. Keith Wenning, who led Ball State to a victory over Indiana, placed third, followed by Russell Wilson from Wisconsin, who had an outstanding debut performance for the Badgers in a victory over UNLV.
O'Brien, who was also named the Atlantic Coast Conference Offensive Player of the Week, is one of 31 quarterbacks who are part of the Manning Award Watch List, which was announced in August. There are just five sophomore quarterbacks on the list.
The Manning Award was created by the Allstate Sugar Bowl in 2004 to honor the college football accomplishments of Archie, Peyton and Eli Manning. It is the only quarterback award that includes the candidates' bowl performances in its balloting.
The honor will be recognizing its eighth winner this year. USC's Matt Leinart was the inaugural winner of the award in 2005, followed by Texas' Vince Young in 2006. Both went on to be top 10 NFL draft picks. In 2007, LSU's JaMarcus Russell earned the award and was the NFL's No. 1 draft pick. Boston College's Matt Ryan claimed the award in 2008 and was drafted No. 3, quickly becoming the starting quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons. In 2009, Florida star Tim Tebow earned the honor – he also went on to be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. The 2010 winner was Texas signal-caller Colt McCoy, the winningest quarterback in college football history, who was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the draft. Last year saw Auburn's Cameron Newton earn the award, prior to being selected No. 1 overall in the 2011 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers.