Offensive Player of the Year: Ben DiNucci, QB, James Madison
DiNucci is one of the nation’s most efficient passers, as he leads the country in completion percentage (70.3%) while ranking third in pass efficiency rating (175.2). During the regular season, he completed 187-of-266 passes for 2,552 yards and 22 touchdowns with only four interceptions. He also rushed for 426 yards and four scores to finish with nearly 3,000 yards of offense. DiNucci is third in the CAA in passing touchdowns and fourth in total offense (248.2). He completed more than 75% of his passes in seven games and threw two or more touchdowns in eight games.
Defensive Player of the Year: Ron’Dell Carter, DE, James Madison
Carter, a Buck Buchanan Award finalist, is one of the country’s premier pass rushers, as he ranks third nationally with 22.5 tackles for loss and 16th with 9.5 sacks. Carter tallied 53 total tackles during the regular season, which is third for the Dukes. During conference play, Carter registered 16.5 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks. He produced at least 2.0 TFL in seven games, including a career-high 6.0 at William & Mary. Carter also produced 10 quarterback hurries.
Special Teams Player of the Year: Earnest Edwards, KR/WR, Maine
University of Maine senior kickoff returner and record-setting wide receiver Earnest Edwards, whose 28.5-yard return average leads the Football Championship Subdivision, has been named the Colonial Athletic Association Special Teams Player of the Year.
Against Rhode Island on Nov. 16, Edwards became the first Black Bear in history to tally a pair of kickoff returns for touchdowns in the same game. Edwards took a second quarter kickoff back 95-yards for a score before tacking on a 93-yard scoring return in the third quarter. The two scores were the third and fourth kickoff returns for touchdowns in his career.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Jeff Undercuffler, QB, UAlbany
UAlbany redshirt freshman quarterback Jeff Undercuffler, who is tied for second in the nation with 33 touchdown passes, was honored as CAA Offensive Rookie of the Year.
“It’s a great honor for him,” head coach Greg Gattuso said. “He’s a young man that coming out of high school not a lot of people were talking about. We have a lot of faith in him. He works his tail off.”
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Tristan Wheeler, LB, Richmond
Wheeler was named the league’s Defensive Rookie of the Year, marking the first time a Spider has won the award since 2007 when Eric McBride picked up the honor. Wheeler finished his rookie campaign tied for the team lead and leading all freshmen in the country in tackles this year with 104, despite not starting until the fourth game of the year.
Wheeler becomes the first true freshman in Colonial Athletic Association history to reach the 100-tackle mark in a single season/
Coach of the Year: Greg Gattuso, UAlbany
University at Albany football coach Greg Gattuso, whose team finished second after being predicted to come in last, was named Colonial Athletic Association Coach of the Year when the league awards were announced on Nov. 26.
“I think it’s a reflection of we had a good year,” Gattuso said, “and I think I would dedicate it to our coaches and our players. We have so much support here from our trainers, our weight coaches, our administrators.”
Gattuso is not new to such accolades, he won the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Coach of the Year seven times when he led Duquesne from 1993 to 2004.
Nat L. Faybian’s NFL Draft Players Position Rankings