With just 45 days remaining until FIU and UAB kick off Conference USA’s season on August 29th, the offseason is nearly in the rear view mirror. Today the conference brass released this season’s pre-season awards, bringing us one step closer to kickoff.
Voted on by the conference’s head coaches, there are few surprises on the award winner list or all-conference team.
The illustrious North Texas quarterback Mason Fine was pegged as C-USA Offensive Player of the Year. Fine enters the 2019 season with 9,417 passing yards, the national leader in active career passing yards.
Florida International’s Sage Lewis stepped into a full time starting linebacker role last year after a few key departures left the position in flux. Lewis faced the challenge so well that he was named C-USA Defensive Player of the Year. Lewis broke three program records last year, including most tackles in a season (132), most solo tackles in a season (83), and most pass breakups in a single game (4).
Lastly, Jonathan Cruz was named C-USA Special Teams Player of the Year. Cruz was stellar as a freshman last year, converting on 77% of his field goal attempts. The sophomore turned heads last year when he nailed a game-winning 56 yard field goal against FAU.
The pre-season all conference team was pretty well distributed, with only Rice and Old Dominion failing to land a player on the team. Southern Miss leads the way with five selections, while UNT and Marshall both boasted four selections.
The coaches’ selections pretty much align with Underdog Dynasty’s preseason position reviews, with the exception of FIU. We had the Panthers at the top of our position rankings, but C-USA coaches only voted two FIU players onto the all-conference team.
Offensive Player of the Year
Mason Fine, Sr., QB, North Texas
Defensive Player of the Year
Sage Lewis, Sr., LB, FIU
Special Teams Player of the Year
Jonathan Cruz, So., K, Charlotte
QB Mason Fine, Sr., North Texas
RB Spencer Brown, Jr., UAB
RB Benny LeMay, Sr., Charlotte
OL Levi Brown, Sr., Marshall
OL Josh Dunlop, Sr., UTSA
OL Derron Gatewood, Sr., UTEP
OL Sosaia Mose, Sr., North Texas
OL Miles Pate, Sr., WKU
TE Harrison Bryant, Sr., Florida Atlantic
WR Rico Bussey, Jr., Sr., North Texas
WR Adrian Hardy, Jr., Louisiana Tech
WR Quez Watkins, Jr., Southern Miss
DL Channing Hames, Sr., Marshall
DL LaDarius Hamilton, Sr., North Texas
DL Alex Highsmith, Sr., Charlotte
DL Garrett Marino, Sr., UAB
DL DeMarrio Smith, Sr., Southern Miss
DL Jacques Turner, Jr., Southern Miss
LB Khalil Brooks, Sr., Middle Tennessee
LB Sage Lewis, Sr., FIU
LB Racheem Boothe, Jr., Southern Miss
DB Reed Blankenship, Jr., Middle Tennessee
DB Ky’el Hemby, Jr., Southern Miss
DB Amik Robertson, Jr., Louisiana Tech
DB Chris Jackson, Sr., Marshall
K Jonathan Cruz, So., Charlotte
P Alvin Kenworthy, Sr., North Texas
KR Brett Winnegan, Sr., UTSA
PR Maurice Alexander, Sr., FIU
LS Matt Beardall, Sr., Marshall