National titles highlight awards


Lawrence Peart

Alex Okafor lifts the 2012 Alamo Bowl trophy above his head following the Longhorns’ 31-27 victory over Oregon State.

Christian Corona

The Academy handed out the Oscars on Sunday, but award season isn’t quite over. Texas’ athletic shortcomings in 2012 were well-documented — the football team was crushed by Oklahoma again, the baseball team didn’t make the NCAA tournament and, in the same calendar year, the basketball team was bounced in its first NCAA tournament game and then began the next season without star paint guard Myck Kabongo. There were some, um, silver linings, however. The envelope, please …

Best Actor – Alex Okafor

Third baseman Erich Weiss and golfer Dylan Fritelli were considered for this, but Okafor’s Alamo Bowl performance put him over the top. The Pflugerville product made 68 tackles, a whopping 18 of them for a loss, including 12.5 sacks and 20 quarterback hurries, both team-highs. The 4.5-sack effort he turned in during Texas’ triumph over Oregon State last December was a fitting end to his career and may have earned him a spot in the first round of April’s NFL Draft.

Best Actress – Blaire Luna

Luna went 22-6 with a 2.31 ERA last year, when she nearly led Texas to its first Women’s College World Series berth since Cat Osterman was on the 40 Acres. Her 10.6 strikeouts per seven innings was good for No. 3 nationally. The ace also became the second Longhorn, along with Osterman, to record 1,000 career strikeouts. 

Best Actor in Supporting Role – Hoby Milner 

Milner started out last season in the Longhorns’ starting rotation but, by the end of the year, he was the team’s setup man. What seemed like a demotion proved to be mutually beneficial for both Milner and his squad. Texas had a reliable option behind closer Corey Knebel and Milner, who admitted to being more comfortable coming out of the bullpen, ended up being drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the seventh round of last year’s MLB Draft. 

Best Actress in Supporting Role – Hannah Allison

Allison was an essential piece to the Longhorns’ championship puzzle last season. She averaged more than 10 assists per set this past year and had 254 assists in six NCAA Tournament games, including a mind-boggling 53 in the Final Four five-set triumph over Michigan. As great as Bailey Webster, Haley Eckerman and Khat Bell were, Texas would not have won a national title without Allison.

Best Picture – Men’s golf team’s national title win

Texas captured two national championships over the last 12 months, one in volleyball and one in men’s golf. But the Longhorn volleyball team swept Oregon in their national title game, leaving little doubt who the best squad in the country was. The Texas men’s golf squad, on the other hand, provided much more drama on its way to winning a championship. Senior Dylan Fritelli sank a 30-foot, title-clinching birdie putt on the final hole of the Longhorns’ national championship clash with Alabama, sending his teammates in a frenzy and giving Texas its third national title in men’s golf.

Best Director – Jerritt Elliott

After several uncharacteristic losses in non-conference play, Elliott, the head volleyball coach, talked about how he was toying with his lineup, still unsure of what group of players would work. Texas began the year by losing three of its first nine matches, but reeled off 17 straight wins, including a school-record 15 in a row to begin Big 12 play, before falling to Iowa State in five sets in its regular season finale — a loss some players said would actually serve the Longhorns well in the upcoming NCAA Tournament. Sure enough, they blazed their way through the tournament, losing just one set in their first four NCAA Tournament matches, all of which were in Austin, before battling back in a five-set win over Michigan and a sweep of Oregon in the title match. Eddie Reese, John Fields and Augie Garrido are really good at what they do, but Elliott may very well be the best coach on campus.