C-USA Announces 2014 Preseason Football Awards

Go C-USA! James Rouse
James Rouse

July 16, 2014

2014PreseasonAwards Get Acrobat Reader

A trio of senior standouts headline the list of 2014 preseason Conference USA Football award winners, as chosen by the league's 13 head coaches. Marshall senior QB Rakeem Cato was tabbed the preseason Offensive Player of the Year, Marshall senior DL James Rouse was named the Defensive Player of the Year and UAB senior P Hunter Mullins earned Special Teams Player of the Year honors.

Cato was named the Offensive Player of the Year as a junior in 2013, following his selection as league MVP in 2012. The Miami native led Conference USA and finished third in the FBS in touchdown passes with 39 (the fourth-highest total in school history). Cato completed 298-of-499 passes for 3,916 yards and rushed for 294 yards and six touchdowns. With Cato at the helm, Marshall was seventh in the FBS in scoring offense (42.1 points per game) and 12th in total offense (500.4 yards per game). He closed out the season with at least one touchdown pass in 32 consecutive games, the longest streak in Marshall history. It is the longest active streak among all FBS QBs entering the 2014 season and just six shy of tying the all-time record.

Rouse was voted the Marshall 2013 MVP by his teammates and was a key player on a defensive unit that made the biggest one-season improvement in FBS scoring defense (20.2-point improvement) since 1998. He made a successful return to the field after playing just three games over two seasons due to injuries and was named a First-Team All-Conference USA selection last year. Rouse started 13-of-14 games, leading the Herd with 14.0 tackles for loss and six sacks. He finished with 39 tackles (22 solo), three pass breakups and five QB hurries. Rouse blocked a field goal attempt at Virginia Tech and had season highs of six tackles at Virginia Tech and Middle Tennessee, where he also had three TFLs.

Mullins, a senior from Tallassee, Ala., has been the Blazers' starting punter the past two seasons. He ranks No. 1 on UAB's career charts with a 44.0-yard punting average. Last season, Mullins averaged 43.1 yards on 51 kicks as he was named First-Team All-Conference USA. He has 28 career punts inside the 20-yard line and has 22 punts of 50 yards or more.

Marshall had the most overall preseason selections with seven, while UTSA had five. Rice and UTEP each placed three players on the team. Nine C-USA schools had at least one player named to the squad.

Marshall was unanimously chosen as the preseason favorite to win the East Division. North Texas was picked as the team favored to take the West Division crown, narrowly edging Rice and UTSA.

The 10th annual Conference USA Football Championship Game, pitting the champions of the East and West divisions, will be held Saturday, Dec. 6.

The 2014 C-USA Football season kicks off Friday, Aug. 29, with a pair of non-conference games. All 13 of the league's teams are in action during opening weekend, with nine games scheduled to air on national or regional television.


Offensive Player of the Year
Rakeem Cato, Sr., QB, Marshall

Defensive Player of the Year
James Rouse, Sr., DL, Marshall

Special Teams Player of the Year
Hunter Mullins, Sr., P, UAB

First Team Offense
QB	Rakeem Cato, Sr., Marshall
RB	Kenneth Dixon, Jr., Louisiana Tech
RB	Aaron Jones, So., UTEP
OL	Scott Inskeep, Sr., UTSA
OL	Chris Jasperse, Sr., Marshall
OL	Cyril Lemon, Sr., North Texas
OL	Clint Van Horn, Jr., Marshall
OL	Mason Y'Barbo, Sr., North Texas
WR	Jamarcus Nelson, Sr., UAB
WR	Tommy Shuler, Sr., Marshall
WR	Jordan Taylor., Sr., Rice
TE	Eric Tomlinson, Sr., UTEP

First Team Defense
DL	Vernon Butler, Jr., Louisiana Tech
DL	Christian Covington, Jr., Rice
DL	Ra'Shawde Myers, Sr., Marshall
DL	James Rouse, Sr., Marshall
LB	T.T. Barber, Sr., Middle Tennessee
LB	Evan McKelvey, Sr., Marshall
LB	Andrae Kirk, Jr., Florida Atlantic
DB	Kevin Byard, Jr., Middle Tennessee
DB	Bryce Callahan, Sr., Rice
DB	D'Joun Smith, Sr., Florida Atlantic
DB	Triston Wade, Sr., UTSA

First Team Special Teams
K	Sean Ianno, Sr., UTSA
P	Hunter Mullins, Sr., UAB
KR	Autrey Golden, Jr., UTEP
PR	Kenny Harrison, Sr., UTSA
LS	Jesse Medrano, Sr., UTSA


1. Marshall      	91
2. Middle Tennessee	73
3. Florida Atlantic	60
4. WKU	                57
5. Old Dominion   	33
6. UAB	                31
7. FIU	                19

1. North Texas	        66
2. Rice	                65
3. UTSA	                62
4. Louisiana Tech	38
5. Southern Miss	24
6. UTEP	                18



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