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Nine players and two coaches from the CAA have been selected as finalists for the 2019 STATS FCS legacy awards, which honor the national players and coach of the year in college football’s Division I subdivision.
Among 26 finalists for the Walter Payton Award as FCS Offensive Player of the Year were Towson senior quarterback Tom Flacco, Rhode Island senior wide receiver Aaron Parker and Villanova junior quarterback Daniel Smith.
On the list of 26 finalists for the Buck Buchanan Award as FCS Defensive Player of the Year were James Madison senior defensive end Ron’Dell Carter, JMU senior defensive end John Daka, Elon senior cornerback Greg Liggs, Jr. and UAlbany senior defensive end Eli Mencer.
Making the list of 20 finalists for the Jerry Rice Award as FCS Freshman Player of the Year were UAlbany redshirt freshman quarterback Jeff Undercuffler and Richmond freshman linebacker Tristan Wheeler.
Among 15 finalists for the Eddie Robinson Award as FCS Coach of the Year were James Madison head coach Curt Cignetti and UAlbany head coach Greg Gattuso.
Flacco completed 215-of-356 passes for 2,831 yards and 22 touchdowns, and added 324 yards and 2 TD’s on the ground. Parker led the CAA with 81 receptions for 1,224 yards and 9 touchdowns. Smith connected on 217-of-366 passes for 2,991 yards and 31 touchdowns, and also rushed for 367 yards and 11 TD’s.
Carter recorded 53 tackles, a league-high 22.5 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks and 10 quarterback hurries. Daka contributed 49 tackles, 20.5 tackles for loss, a league-best 12.5 sacks and 8 quarterback hurries. Liggs led the nation with eight interceptions and added 49 tackles and 5 pass breakups. Mencer amassed 52 tackles, 22.0 tackles for loss, 13.5 sacks, 5 forced fumbles and 3 fumble recoveries.
Undercuffler completed 225-of-397 passes for a school-record 2,966 yards and ranked second in FCS with 33 touchdown passes. Wheeler led all freshmen in FCS with 104 total tackles and also had 3.5 tackles for loss and 2 forced fumbles.
Cignetti guided JMU to an 11-1 overall record and a perfect 8-0 mark in CAA play as the Dukes captured their fourth conference title in the past five years. Gattuso led UAlbany to an 8-4 overall record and a best-ever second-place finish in CAA action at 6-2 after being picked to finish 12th in the preseason poll.
A national panel of over 150 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries will select the winners. Voting is based on the regular season.
All four awards and the STATS FCS Doris Robinson Scholar-Athlete of the Year will be celebrated at the STATS FCS Awards Banquet and Presentation, scheduled for Jan. 10 in Frisco, Texas, on the eve of the national championship game.