Dec. 6, 2013
BOCA RATON, Fla. -
Defensive back D’Joun Smith was named Florida Atlantic University’s 2013 Most Valuable Player at the season ending awards banquet on Friday night.
The junior, who started every game for the Owls, set the tone early with seven total tackles and a pass break-up in the season opener at Miami. He was the squad’s defensive game ball winner after his efforts versus Middle Tennessee and New Mexico State but it may be his efforts in the Tulane game that he became most known for with three interceptions and the jumpstart FAU needed to begin its four-game win streak. Smith led the nation for two weeks in total interceptions and concluded the regular season ranked No. 2 nationally in interceptions and No. 3 nationally in passes defended. Smith ended the year with 35 tackles, two for a loss, a sack, seven interceptions and two forced fumbles. He garnered Conference Defensive Player of the Week honors twice and was named the Jim Thorpe Defensive Back of the Week as well.
The Offensive MVP honor was bestowed to senior center Mustafa Johnson. Johnson concluded his two year FAU career with 23 starts. As the unit’s lone returning starter, he was instrumental in creating a brotherhood among the offensive line. Johnson began leading off-season workouts shortly after the conclusion of the 2012 season. His efforts helped FAU to a No. 6 C-USA rank in scoring offense. The line prided itself on an FAU running game that recorded four games with 200+ yards rushing, two with 300+ rushing yards and had two games with multiple 100+ yard rushers and narrowly missed three 100 yard rushers versus Southern Miss with the third tallying 98 yards.
Andrae Kirk earned the team’s Defensive MVP award after completing the regular-season campaign with a team leading 84 tackles. The junior linebacker was all over the field in 2013 recording a play in nearly every statistical category. He had three games with double-digit tackles (Middle Tennessee, at Auburn and Tulane). He had a sack at Rice and tackles for a loss versus New Mexico State and FIU. Kirk recovered a fumble at East Carolina and had an interception versus Miami. He had a quarterback hurry and a pass break-up versus FIU.
The squad’s Special Team MVP was awarded to sophomore punter Sean Kelly. He was the only player to record a punt in 2013 and finished the season ranked second in the conference and No. 35 nationally while the team ranked first in C-USA in net punting and No. 45 nationally. Kelly averaged 42.7 yards per punt. He was a three-time FAU game ball winner and was publicly praised by opponent coaches for his ability to flip the field. His longest punt of the season was a 64 yarder versus FIU. He added a 63 yarder at Rice, 62-yard boots at Miami and USF and a 61-yard punt at Auburn. On the year he had 19 punts of 50+ yards, 21 fair caught and more than a third (36%) were downed inside the 20, placing him among the nation’s leaders.
Just after mid-season, Head Coach Brian Wright assumed the helm of the program. The one word he used to describe the team was “resilient”. Two players were honored as Mr. Resilient and both exemplify the word, but for different reasons. Senior tight end Nexon Dorvilus was named the offensive side of the ball’s Mr. Resilient while the defensive honor was awarded to Martin Wright. Both will graduate next week and both have endured three coaching changes during their four-year career. Dorvilus ended his career with 12 touchdown receptions, including six in 2013. Wright recorded 112 total tackles, including 17.5 for a loss. He will be most remembered for his inspiring 2013 performance versus FIU, a game that he set the single game sacks mark at 4.5. The second phrase that took on meaning in 2013 was Hold the Rope. Head Coach Brian Wright questioned “who would you want holding the rope if you were hanging from a cliff?” He answered his question by naming Daniel McKinney the team’s Hold the Rope Award winner. McKinney led the Owls with 49 receptions for a team leading 615 yards and averaged 12.6 yards per catch. His longest reception of 2013 was a 48 yard grab versus New Mexico State. He recorded his first two games +100 receiving yards. He recorded 104 versus Rice and 138 versus NMSU. He also was credited with connecting with William Dukes with a touchdown pass in FAU’s pivotal Tulane contest.
The program also bestowed several specialty awards. Senior defensive lineman Andrew Stryffeler received the Student-Athlete of the Year Award. Senior offensive lineman Christopher Chappell earned the Howard Schnellenberger Community Outreach Award. Chappell is the first honoree for the award named after FAU’s founding football coach Howard Schnellenberger. Randell Johnson was named the Iron Man of the Year after the senior saw action as a linebacker, as part of the defensive line, and on nearly every special teams unit. Offensive Scout Team MVP was awarded to Kailb Woods and the Defensive Scout Team MVP went to Anthony Hamilton. Nate Ozedmir walked away with the Special Teams Scout Team MVP award. Senior Cory Henry, who ended his career as the program’s all-time sack leader with 16, earned the Most Outstanding Player for the 2013 Shula Bowl.
Three special awards concluded the list of honorees: Newcomer of the Year, Comeback Player of the Year and the Ramon Rickards “Bone” Award.
Newcomer of the Year unquestionably was awarded to sophomore quarterback Jaquez Johnson. The Mississippi native concluded the year ranked in five C-USA offensive categories. Nationally, his name was listed in 14 categories, including points responsible for and total offense. Johnson led the squad in rushing five times was a C-USA Offensive Player of the Week and was a four-time FAU Offensive Game Ball Winner. In one season, he captured FAU’s career record for rushing touchdowns by a QB with 10. He also tossed another 10 touchdowns.
Comeback Player of the Year was awarded to senior receiver DeAndre Richardson. Richardson led the squad in 2011 with receptions and receiving yards. The following spring he suffered a severe ankle injury. He returned in 2013 to start every game, recording 13 receptions for 117 yards.
Senior Adarius Glanton was awarded the Ramon Rickards “Bone Award” given to the team’s hardest hitter. Glanton recorded 75 tackles in 2013, including eight for a loss. His work also included 2.5 sacks for a loss of 20 yards. But, the award is in honor of the physicality of the tackle, the type of tackle that makes the offense a little cautious about moving the ball in his direction. It is awarded in honor of Ramon Rickards who was a member of FAU’s inaugural team and played at FAU from 2001-2004. Rickards was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident in 2006.