Jan. 27, 2003
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -
Purdue junior linebacker Niko Koutouvides today was named the Walter Camp Football Foundation Connecticut Player of the Year.
A first team All-Big Ten honoree this season, Koutouvides paced Purdue with 121 tackles, 11 1/2 tackles for loss and three interceptions. He ranked second on the team with eight pass breakups and third with four sacks. He recorded double figures in tackles six times, including a career-high 14 at Illinois on Oct. 12 and 13 along with his first career interception against eventual national champion Ohio State on Nov. 9. The Boilermakers led the Big Ten in total defense, allowing just 317.2 yards per game.
"It's truly an honor to be named the Connecticut Player of the Year," Koutouvides said. "I'm proud to call Connecticut home, and to be recognized as the best player in the state this season means a lot. Growing up, I never could have dreamed the way things have turned out for me."
The 6-foot-3, 238-pound Koutouvides is a native of Plainville, Conn. He was all-conference and honorable mention all-state at Plainville High School and then played one season at Milford (Conn.) Academy before enrolling at Purdue in January of 2000.
Koutouvides and his Boilermaker teammates finished the 2002 season with a 7-6 record after defeating Washington 34-24 in the Sun Bowl. Purdue is one of just 13 schools in the country to play in a bowl game each of the last six years.
It is the 21st year of the Connecticut Player of the Year Award, which is presented by Yankee Gas Services Company. Previous winners include BYU quarterback Steve Young (1983), Boston College linebacker Bill Romanowski of the Oakland Raiders and Syracuse defensive end Dwight Freeney (2001) of the Indianapolis Colts.
Koutouvides will be honored along with members of the 2002 Walter Camp All-America team and other major award winners at the organization's national awards banquet on Saturday, Feb. 8 at the Yale University Commons in New Haven, Conn. In addition, the Foundation will hold its annual Fan Fest on Friday, Feb. 7 at Yale's Lanman Center. Dinner ($225) and Fan Fest ($7) tickets can be purchased by calling 203-288-CAMP.
The Walter Camp Foundation, named for the individual recognized as the "Father of American Football," has been naming All-America teams since 1892.
Yankee Gas Services Company, part of the Northeast Utilities system, is Connecticut's largest natural gas distribution company and serves 191,000 customers in 71 communities across the state.