BRYCE Gibbs enjoyed a breakthrough 2014 season and has been rewarded with his first Carlton best and fairest award, with the midfielder taking out the John Nicholls Medal on Wednesday night ahead of Blues skipper Marc Murphy and last year's winner Kade Simpson.
Chris Yarran was also rewarded for his outstanding 2014 season with fourth place in Wednesday night's count, while Sam Rowe's remarkable reinvention as a key defender earned him fifth place, one spot ahead of his new defensive partner, Michael Jamison.
The Blues' three experienced 2014 recruits also fared well, with former Western Bulldog and Sydney Swan Andrejs Everitt finishing equal seventh with former skipper Chris Judd, and former Brisbane Lion Sam Docherty finishing ninth ahead of ex-Magpie Dale Thomas in 10th.
Having played most of his previous seven seasons at half-back, Gibbs transformed himself into one of the game's best midfielders this season.
Showing he had the hard-edged inside game to complement his outside skills, the 25-year-old led Carlton in centre clearances in 2014 (50, 22 more than the next best Blue, Andrew Carrazzo), overall clearances (124), contested possessions (236) and tackles (108).
Gibbs also led Carlton for average possessions (24.8 a game) and was one of only three Blues to play all 22 matches.
He was presented with his award at Crown Palladium on Wednesday night, when he was also awarded life membership of Carlton.
The former Glenelg player was named in this year's preliminary All Australian squad of 40 players and was unlucky not be to be named in the final 22 announced on Tuesday night.
Carlton coach Michael Malthouse said Gibbs thoroughly deserved his first John Nicholls Medal.
"Bryce is a young man who has committed himself to this football club and thrown himself right into the training that's required for excellence," Malthouse said.
"This season, in particular, he has been a very consistent player, a durable player, and he has grown tremendously in his leadership.
"I know I speak for everyone at Carlton when I say we are delighted for Bryce.
"This achievement shows he is now reaping the benefits of all his hard work."
Gibbs told AFL.com.au last month his permanent move into the midfield had come after a pre-season discussion with Malthouse.
"(The midfield) was where I wanted to play my footy," Gibbs said.
"Mick's been really good, he asked me where I wanted to play and he's given me the opportunity to play there in the position that I want.
"So I'm just trying to grab it with both hands."
The No.1 pick in the 2006 national draft, Gibbs has finished in the top 10 of the Blues' best and fairest in all eight of his seasons at Visy Park, with third his previous best finish (2009 and 2011).
He also returned to Carlton's leadership group in 2014.
2014 John Nicholls Medal top 10
1 Bryce Gibbs
2 Marc Murphy
3 Kade Simpson
4 Chris Yarran
5 Sam Rowe
6 Michael Jamison
=7 Andrejs Everitt
=7 Chris Judd
9 Sam Docherty
10 Dale Thomas