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January 8, 2010

Baxter wins Player of Year Award

MORE: Army AA Bowl announcement watch | Army Bowl starters | Army All-American Bowl coverage

SAN ANTONIO - Thanking his coaches, his teammates, his dad and stepdad - that was the easy part for Dillon Baxter.

No different than most of the 75 touchdowns he produced at San Diego (Calif.) Mission Bay this season. (Yes, this season, not his career)

But as he got to the end of his acceptance speech after being awarded the Ken Hall Trophy for the 2010 U.S. Army Player of the Year - after he asked his mom to stand up before a banquet room crowd of more than a 1,000 - the USC-bound senior was speechless.

"I don't know where to start," he said, getting slightly choked up in the process.

"I want to thank you for everything. Driving me to all those practices… picking me up at school. Without you, none of this would be possible. I love you."

Baxter won out over a distinguished group, including Seantrel Henderson of Saint Paul (Minn.) Cretin-Derham Hall, Marcus Lattimore of Duncan (S.C.) Byrnes, Ronald Powell of Moreno Valley (Calif.) Rancho Verde, Kyle Prater of Hillside (Ill.) Proviso West, Silas Redd of Stamford (Conn.) King & Low Heywood Thomas and Robert Woods of Gardena (Calif.) Junipero Serra.

Afterward, Baxter said he wasn't expecting to be so honored.

"That's an amazing group of players,'' he said. "I was stunned when they called my name."

The award - named after and presented by high school legend Ken Hall - was the feature moment of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl banquet. The game will take place Saturday in the Alamodome.

The Player of the Year award was one of four handed out.

Mike Hull of Canonsburg (Penn.) Canon McMillan and C.J. Mosley of Theodore (Ala.) High were given the Blanchard and Davis awards for the players that represent the highest standard of community service, education and athletic distinction.

Henderson won the first-ever Munoz award, given to the best lineman in the country. His acceptance brought one of the best moments of the night.

As the 6-8, 301-pound Henderson walked across the stage to get his award from Anthony Munoz, an NFL Hall of Famer and one of the all-time greatest offensive lineman - even Munoz was stunned by the size of Henderson.

"Wow," he said out loud about the player even the 6-6 Munoz had to look up to.



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