Jan. 28, 2012
MVP Interview | NFL.com Highlights
MOBILE, Ala. - Isaiah Pead took a stutter step forward, then raced to the left sideline and traveled 60 yards up the field before finally getting tripped up by a leg tackle.
The former Cincinnati running back followed that nifty punt return with a 38-yarder a couple of minutes later, late in the first half, to play a starring role Saturday in the North's 23-13 victory over the South in the Senior Bowl.
The first one set up a field goal and helped Pead outshine bigger names to earn Most Valuable Player honors.
"(Coach) told me what the punt return call was, left, right or in the middle, and told me to make sure I set my blocks up or the play would be dead," said Pead, who set a Senior Bowl record with 98 yards on punt returns. "I tried to do that the best that I could. The rest was just ability."
It was an up-and-down day for a crew of quarterbacks with sparkling college credentials, but threw a combined five interceptions.
It was mostly up for Pead, who only had 74 yards on eight punt returns as a senior. The 5-foot-10, 193-pounder did rush for 1,338 yards and 12 touchdowns and gained a team-high 31 yards on eight carries in the Senior Bowl.
"I think he may have opened some eyes," said Minnesota Vikings coach Leslie Frazier, who led the North. "Some people may have wondered if he can do certain things. I think he may have answered some questions today.
It was a record-setting day for the reigning BIG EAST Conference Offensive Player of the Year. Pead surpassed J.D. Hill of Arizona State as the Senior Bowl’s all-time leader in punt return yardage with 98 on the day. The previous record of 73 had stood since 1971.
“A win caps off the week," Pead said. "You want to go in and practice hard, interview well and meet fans, but going away with a loss – as a competitor – I wouldn’t like that. We’re all out here competing and for the North side to come in and get a win caps off everything. I got everything I wanted out of this week. I got good work done at practice and I got a win for this game."
Pead adds to his list of accolades which include: 2011 BIG EAST Conference Offensive Player of the Year, First-Team All-BIG EAST running back and 2011 AutoZone Liberty Bowl MVP. He led the conference with 1,259 rushing yards and 12 rushing touchdowns.
Defensive tackle Derek Wolfe also played in the game for the North squad.
Wolfe was the BIG EAST Co-Defensive Player of the Year and a First-Team All-BIG EAST selection at defensive tackle. He was also named to five All-America teams. He led the BIG EAST and ranked fifth in the NCAA FBS, averaging 1.65 tackles for a loss per game. He was third in the league averaging nearly a sack per contest. He finished with 21.5 tackles for a loss and 9.5 sacks.
With Pead and Wolfe’s participation in the game, 33 former Bearcats have played in the annual showcase for the NFL.
Former wideout/returner Mardy Gilyard was the Offensive Player of the Game in 2010 and former UC signal caller Jack Lee was the MVP of the 1960 Senior Bowl.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.