PITTSBURGH-Former University of New Hampshire fullback Dan Kreider (Manheim, Pa.) was named the recipient of the Joe Greene Great Performance Award, given annually to the Pittsburgh Steelers' top rookie. The award is voted upon on by members of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Pro Football Writers of America.
Kreider stepped in as the starter after fullback Jon Witman broke his leg on Oct. 15 and backup fullback Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala broke his foot a week later.
Kreider has had a great impact on the play of starting running back Jerome Bettis. While running behind Kreider, Bettis carried the ball 162 times for 662 yards, good for a solid average of 4.1 yards per carry.
In an interview with Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Bettis said, " He's (Kreider) my player of the year. He came in and shored up a position that had a lot of question marks. He definitely gets my MVP award. The running game wouldn't have been able to progress if he didn't come in."
Pittsburgh head coach Bill Cowher also had tremendous things to say about the former UNH star and his play with the Steelers this past season.
"Not only do I think he was very deserving, but the players have tremendous respect for him," Cowher said. "He's been a very blue-collar player, a guy who's worked at it, and they have great appreciation for the job he's done. He's played with such consistency for a guy who's never played in this league."
While at UNH, Kreider blocked for tailback Jerry Azumah, who set the all-time NCAA record for rushing and scoring in I-AA football. Azumah is now playing defensive back for the Chicago Bears. Kreider also posted some impressive numbers while with the Wildcats. In his senior year alone, he carried the ball 92 times for 518 yards and also was UNH's third-leading receiver with 25 receptions for 275 yards and a touchdown.