Offensive Player of the Year: Aaron Winchester, QB, Central Connecticut
Winchester is among the national leaders in completion percentage (12, 65.3%), passing efficiency (4th, 170.7), passing yards per completion (5th, 15.14) and passing yards per attempt (2nd, 9.89).
On the year he is 160-245 for 2,422 yards, 19 touchdowns and four interceptions. He is also the leading rusher on the team with 782 rushing yards on 148 carries, good for 5.3 yards per rush, and eight touchdowns. The Blue Devils are averaging 35.5 points per game, the 15th highest total in the country.
The Georgia State transfer is driving force behind the winningest season in program history, and he’s the first Central Connecticut Blue Devil to capture the Northeast Conference’s top individual offensive honor since 2009.
Defensive Player of the Year: Cam Gill, LB, Wagner
NEC Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY) award went to Wagner linebacker Cam Gill for the second consecutive season. Gill becomes the fifth player in NEC history to repeat as the league’s top defensive player and finishes his collegiate career as the conference’s all-time sack leader with 34 career sacks. This season, the dynamic outside linebacker led the league with 9.5 sacks while accumulating 20 tackles for loss and 60 overall stops in 12 games.
Gill has played in 45 career games and has 189 career tackles. The senior from Chapel Hill will be on every scout’s radar.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Tyrese Chambers, WR, Sacred Heart
Following in the footsteps of Sacred Heart running back Julius Chestnut, redshirt freshman receiver Tyrese Chambers made it two straight NEC Offensive Rookie of the Year accolades for the Pioneers. The dynamic pass catcher is the SHU’s fourth-ever recipient of the honor and he is also a finalist for the STATS Jerry Rice Award, which is awarded annually to the top freshman player in the FCS.
Chambers compiled the third-most receiving yards (811) on the circuit during his first season at SHU. The 6-foot-1 receiver scored in six of his 11 games, racking up a team-high 50 receptions and averaging 16.2 yards per grab. His eight touchdown catches were fifth most in the NEC.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Terrell Smith, DB, St. Francis
Smith appeared in all 12 games for a Red Flash unit that posted the pass defense efficiency rating 51.6 completion The defensive back totaled 21 tackles to go along with three pass break-ups, one interception, one forced fumble and two quarterback hurries. He made 3.5 tackles-for-loss, including 2.5 sacks.
Smith was a standout during the Red Flash’s dominant defensive performance at Bryant in Week 5. The 5-foot-10 redshirt freshman made five stops, highlighted by 1.5 sacks, as SFU limited the opponent to 3.0 yards per play in a 16-6 triumph. Smith made his first career interception in the third quarter of the Red Flash’s Week 3 win over Merrimack. The Baltimore product earned the NEC Rookie of the Week award after a 42-8 victory over Wagner. He made six tackles while the Flash allowed only 1.1 yards per rush attempt.
Co-Coach of the Year: Bernard Clark, Jr., Robert Morris
Clark orchestrated a remarkable turnaround in his second season in Moon Township. After the Colonials totaled only one NEC victory over the prior three campaigns, they won six of seven conference contests this fall with the lone setback coming at nationally-ranked Central Connecticut. Tabbed for a next-to-last finish in the NEC Preseason Coaches’ Poll, Robert Morris reached the 7-win mark for the first time since 2010.
Co-Coach of the Year: Ryan McCarthy, Central Connecticut
McCarthy’s first year as CCSU’s head coach has coincided with the most-fruitful season in program history. The Blue Devils, who have qualified for the FCS Playoffs for the second time in three years, have 11 wins for the first time ever. McCarthy presides over the second-ranked defense in the FCS and Central Connecticut’s 6.81 yards per offensive snap average ranks sixth amongst national team leaders. CCSU has earned a FCS top-25 ranking for seven consecutive weeks heading into the postseason – the longest stretch in NEC annals.
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