Conference USA Announces Football Players of the Year
Dec. 11, 2013
Conference USA announced its 2013 Players of the Year today, as selected by the league's 14 head football coaches. After a league-record eight teams reached conditional bowl-eligibility, C-USA is completing its 18th football campaign by sending six teams to bowl games.
East Carolina junior QB Shane Carden is the recipient of the Conference USA Most Valuable Player Award, becoming the second Pirate in four years to win the honor (Dwayne Harris in 2010). The four-time C-USA Offensive Player of the Week accounted for 42 touchdowns this season (32 passing and 10 rushing) while throwing for a Conference USA-best 3,866 yards. Carden leads all FBS players in completing 71 percent of his pass attempts (358-of-504), his touchdown total ranks eighth in the nation and he has thrown for 300 yards or more seven times in 2013. Carden has thrown 56 touchdowns in his 26-game career, while accounting for 73 of the 103 touchdowns ECU has scored with him as the starting quarterback. With Carden at the helm, the Pirates have converted on 105-of-114 trips inside the red zone. This marks the fifth time in the last six seasons that a quarterback has been named C-USA Most Valuable Player.
Marshall junior QB Rakeem Cato was named the Offensive Player of the Year this season, following his selection as MVP in 2012. He leads Conference USA and is tied for third in the FBS in touchdown passes with 36 (the fourth-highest total in school history). Cato has completed 270-of-455 passes for 3,579 yards and has also rushed for 279 yards and six touchdowns. With Cato at the helm, Marshall is seventh in the FBS in scoring offense (43.0 points per game) and 13th in total offense (503.2 yards per game).
Defensive recognition went to Tulsa senior LB Shawn Jackson, who places second in C-USA and 14th in the FBS with 123 total tackles and leads the conference with 17.5 tackles for loss. His five interceptions are the most among any non-defensive back in the league, and he also registered 5.5 tackles for loss and recovered three fumbles. Jackson finished his career with 401 total tackles to become the second Tulsa player to tally 400 or more tackles as he placed second on Tulsa's all-time tackles chart.
The Special Teams Player of the Year award went to North Texas senior return specialist Brelan Chancellor. He is just the second player in Conference USA history to earn first-team all-league honors as both a kick returner and a punt returner after leading the league in both categories. Chancellor was one of two players to rank in the top 10 nationally in kickoff return average (28.1) and punt return average (16.8), scoring a touchdown on each type of return this season.
For the first time since 1999, the league's Freshman of the Year honor was shared by two players. Marshall DB Corey Tindal gave the Thundering Herd a C-USA Freshman of the Year for the second straight season, sharing the 2013 honor with Tulane LB Nico Marley. Tindal posted 55 tackles, five tackles for loss, six pass breakups and two fumble recoveries, while Marley was third on the Green Wave with 59 tackles, second with eight tackles for loss, had a pair of sacks, one interception and two fumble recoveries.
Sophomore QB Jaquez Johnson of Florida Atlantic garnered the league's Newcomer of the Year award. In one season, he captured FAU's career record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback with 10 and he also tossed another 10 TDs. Johnson led the squad in rushing five times and finished with a team-high 772 rushing yards, the most by any C-USA quarterback. He completed 58.2 percent of his passes for 1,876 yards and placed fourth in the league with an average of 239.8 yards per game of total offense.