Rookie linebacker Carter Coughlin, a seventh-round pick by the Giants out of the University of Minnesota, received the 2020 Big Ten Medal of Honor for the Golden Gophers.
The award is given annually to a top female and male student-athlete at each conference school. This year, the Big 10 celebrated the 106th anniversary of the award, which pre-dates many of the biggest national awards, including the Heisman Trophy and Naismith Award.
Notable winners include NFL all-time passing yards and touchdown leader Drew Brees (Purdue, 2001); 10-time NCAA basketball champion head coach John Wooden (Purdue, 1932); Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy (Minnesota, 1977); former Yankees manager and catcher Joe Girardi (Northwestern, 1986); Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Bob Griese (Purdue, 1967); and Basketball Hall of Famer Jerry Lucas (Ohio State, 1963).
With the award, Coughlin continues a rich line of football heritage at Minnesota.
His father, Robert, played football there from 1986-90 and was a two-year letter-winner. His mother, Jennie (Moe), played tennis for the Gophers from 1989-92 and was a three-time all-conference selection and two-time team MVP. His grandfather, Tom Moe, lettered from 1957-59 and later served as interim athletic director for the Maroon and Gold for three years (1999-2002). His uncle, Mike Moe, lettered for Minnesota in the 1980s.
Coughlin finished his college career ranked third in school history with 22.5 sacks and fourth with 40 tackles for loss. In 2019, under Big Ten Coach of the Year P.J. Fleck, the Gophers won 11 games for the first time since 1904.
Minnesota also won seven Big Ten games for the first time in school history, beat two top-10 teams, won a Jan. 1 bowl game and ended the season ranked No. 10.
"I grew up a Gopher fan since the day I came out of the womb," Coughlin said. "For me, I took a lot of pride in the University of Minnesota. Being a Gopher fan for a while, it was kind of tough sometimes because there were a lot of years where it was down and then you would catch a glimmer of hope and it would go back down.
"When I was deciding where I wanted to go to school, I decided I wanted to be a part of making Minnesota as great as the days when my grandpa played and they were winning championships and all that kind of stuff. From that aspect, I had pride at Minnesota, and I decided I wanted to be a part of building the program."