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Lever an Emerging Talent

Jake Lever Mark Bickley Emerging Talent Award speech Jake Lever accepts the Mark Bickley Emerging Talent Award at the 2016 Club Champion presentation dinner.
GEELONG, AUSTRALIA - JULY 23: Jake Lever of the Crows handpasses the ball during the 2016 AFL Round 18 match between the Geelong Cats and the Adelaide Crows at Simonds Stadium on July 23, 2016 in Geelong, Australia. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media)
GEELONG, AUSTRALIA - JULY 23: Jake Lever of the Crows handpasses the ball during the 2016 AFL Round 18 match between the Geelong Cats and the Adelaide Crows at Simonds Stadium on July 23, 2016 in Geelong, Australia. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media)

Jake Lever has joined an illustrious list of winners of the Mark Bickley Emerging Talent Award.

Lever, 20, beat out a talented young field to claim the award, which recognises the achievements of a first or second-year player under 21 both on and off the field.

The promising 194cm, 88kg, defender played every game in his second season with the Crows.

Lever teamed up with fellow talls Daniel Talia and Kyle Hartigan to nullify the opposition’s key forwards, while also generating offence from defensive 50m.

He averaged 15.8 possessions and five marks per game, and was nominated for Goal of the Year after baulking two Fremantle players to kick his first AFL goal in Round 21.

Lever demonstrated confidence to drop-off his direct opponent and intercept the ball, ranked No.1 at the Club (sixth in the AFL) for marks from opposition kicks and also third for rebound 50ms.

The lightly-framed, but aggressive backman’s bravery was on display in Adelaide’s most recent game against the Sydney Swans.

He was injured going back with the flight of the ball in front of Swans superstar Lance Franklin. This followed a heavy collision with 102kg ruckman Toby Nankervis earlier in the Semi-Final at the SCG.

The former Calder Cannons junior was named in the fan-voted 22Under22 team for the second straight year, and finished third in the AFL Coaches’ Association Best Young Player Award.

Lever’s maturity and professionalism belies his age. He was awarded the Dr Brian Sando OAM Trophy, recognising outstanding and professional attention to detail in the standard of preparation for being an AFL footballer, in his debut (2015) season.

Adelaide’s first pick (No.14 overall) in the 2014 National Draft, Lever made his AFL debut in Round Six last season and has played a total of 36 games.

The Mark Bickley Emerging Talent Award is an amalgamation of two awards from the Club's history. Andrew McLeod won the first Emerging Talent award in 1995, while the Mark Bickley Award was introduced as a standalone honour in 2005 before the two awards were combined in 2014.

Past winners of the Mark Bickley Emerging Talent Award
1995 – 
Andrew McLeod (Emerging Talent)
1996 – Peter Vardy
1997 – Kane Johnson
1998 – Andrew Eccles
1999 – Brett Burton 
2000 – Tyson Stenglein
2001 – Chris Ladhams
2002 – Graham Johncock
2003 – Brent Reilly
2004 – Ben Rutten
2005 – Nathan van Berlo (Emerging Talent), Chris Knights (Mark Bickley Award)
2006 – Jason Porplyzia (ET), Nathan van Berlo (MB)
2007 – Jonathon Griffin (ET), Jason Porplyzia (MB)
2008 – Kurt Tippett (ET), David Mackay (MB)
2009 – Andy Otten (ET), Patrick Dangerfield (MB)
2010 – Rory Sloane (ET), Phil Davis (MB)
2011 – Matthew Jaensch (ET), Daniel Talia (MB)
2012 – Brodie Smith (ET), Sam Kerridge (MB)
2013 – 
Brad Crouch (ET), Luke Brown (MB)
2014 – 
Charlie Cameron
2015 – 
Matt Crouch