Dec. 8, 2012
Boca Raton, FL - Florida Atlantic University hosted its 2012 Football Banquet tonight, in which the football team and coaching staff honored its seniors and individual accomplishments.
Senior quarterback Graham Wilbert earned the team's Endurance award, in recognition of his holistic achievement in the classroom, on the playing field, in the weight room , and for his citizenship. On the field, Wilbert had to fight for a starting spot as a junior and went into his senior campaign with a new head coach, his third offensive coordinator and a new style of play - one that many assumed he was not suited to play. He did not start the team's first game, but was inserted into the game at the half and never looked back. He has used his intelligence to run the new system and to play within his skill set for the betterment of the team. Wilbert served as the team's game day captain for each contest and earned the team's Offensive Player of the Week honors on two occasions. On the season he has completed 261 pass among 405 attempted and limited his interceptions to six after tossing 15 one year ago. Wilbert did not throw an interception in five-consecutive games, attributing to the teams mid-season improved play. While he completed 26 of 40 passes for 261 yards and four touchdowns in the Troy game, he had seven games with more than 250 yards and tallied a career high 403 versus FIU on a career high 51 attempts. While his efficiency is 134.62 in all games, including back-to-back games against top-five teams (Georgia and Alabama), his efficiency in league games only is 138.67. Wilbert also improved his run game in 2012 with a +63 yards compared to a -144 in 2011.
Most Valuable Players were named for the offensive, defense and special teams. Wide receiver William Dukes, who earned second team All-Sun Belt honors earlier this week, was named the team's Offensive MVP. Dukes, who played in every 2012 game, was a wire-to-wire leader among FAU's 13 receivers. His breakout game was the second game of the season and the SBC opener, versus Middle Tennessee State University. Dukes, a sophomore, had six receptions for 60 yards. At Georgia, a top-five team, Dukes tallied 98 yards on five receptions. He flirted with the 100-yard plateau at the University of Louisiana-Monroe with 96 yards and broke the barrier the following game at the University of South Alabama with five receptions for 119 yards, grabbed his first of 50+ yarder and his first score. The following two games he recorded 100+ yards. He caught nine passes, did not have a dropped ball, in FAU's victory over Western Kentucky University. In the last FAU vs. FIU, as Sun Belt Conference members, Dukes had six receptions for 116 yards. His final game of 2012, the lanky receiver caught a 75-yard touchdown reception, the sixth longest in school history. He tallied 204 yards, on nine catches, versus the University of Louisiana-Lafayette and scored twice to earn CollegeFootballPerformance.com's national wide receiver of the week honors. He consistently was listed among the league's top-10 in both receptions per game and receiving yards per game. He is also listed among the national's top-100 receivers in yards per game. While just a sophomore, he is closing in on the program's all-time top-10 list. Season high nine receptions twice, season high 204 yards versus ULL and his longest reception was the 75-yarder versus ULL. Dukes averaged 100.2 yards in SBC games and 15.4 yards per catch versus SBC opponents. Recorded a catch in all but the Alabama game, a game he saw limited action due to an injury in the previous game.
Senior Brent Harstad earned the team's Defensive MVP honor. Harstad, who earned second team SBC honors as a defensive back, took to the new coach, new defensive coordinator, his third since coming to FAU, and adapted to the new scheme by becoming the team leader in total tackles (103), holding a top-five spot among league tackle leaders and a top-60 national rank among all tacklers. He led all SBC defensive backs in total tackles and was the only player among the league's top-five tacklers that is not a linebacker. Harstad recorded his first two-double digit tackle games of the year against Georgia (12) and Alabama (10). He tallied four games with 10+ tackles on the year with his career high set at USA (15) and met the following week versus Troy. His lone sack of the season was against a then-No. 1 Alabama for a loss of 16 yards. He forced one of his two forced fumbles on the year versus Alabama. Harstad recorded three quarterback hurries on the year and started in every game in 2012. He twice served as the team captain and earned the team's defensive game ball once.
The team's Special Team MVP honor was bestowed to senior long snapper Tim Raber. Just the second longest snapper in the program's history to earn the team's special team's award, Raber has recorded 22 career tackles, tops among all long snappers in the programs history. He had two tackles against Wagner University and at Georgia. Recorded tackles against Alabama, ULM, USA, Troy and WKU. More importantly, no punts were blocked in 2012.
The squad's Student Athlete of the Year award was bestowed to Nexon Dorvilus. The junior business major is a regular on the department and league's honor roll list and holds a 3.1 grade point average. Athletically, he completed the equation, as he used his size and intelligence to sustain a starting spot among a talent-rich corps of FAU tight ends who were asked to use a different skill set as the Owls moved from a pro-style to a spread offense where more pass and run protection was needed. Dorvilus' strong in-game adjustments allowed him to serve as an experienced leader on the field. Due to the depth he was often apart of a two tight end set. Dorvilus started 10 of the team's 12 games. He led FAU's 13 receivers with five touch downs and was third with 301 yards. Dorvilus has had multiple catches in all but three games in 2012. He recorded a career-high six receptions in FAU's victory over Troy, including two scores, the second a game-winning touchdown. He tallied a career-high 78 yards in the same game as well as a career-long 38-yard reception. Dorvilus leads all FAU receivers with four SBC touchdown catches, is third in league games only with 25.1 yards per game, third with 10.0 yards per catch and third in SBC catches with 19.
The final four awards were new to the program, but along with the student-athlete of the year award, exemplify the total program emphasis. The Iron Owl honor was awarded to junior tight end Alex Deleon. Deleon, the first recipient of the award, earned the honors through his off-season efforts in the weight room and in conditioning drills. His hard work paid off earning four starts and receptions in half the contest. He tallied 13 receptions for a total of 77 yards and a touchdown reception against then No. 1 Alabama. Dorvilus continued to be an integral part of special teams as well.
Much like the season's weekly honors, the evening included honors for a scout team offensive, defensive and special teams' player. The scout team, responsible for replicating the upcoming opponent's players, is the unit that pushes the starters and provides the necessary game-day looks. Junior tight end Michael Harrop earned the offensive honor. Freshman linebacker Paul Cecere earned the defensive honor and also earned game time on special teams. The special teams scout team award was awarded to redshirt sophomore safety Shaheem Sutherland.
Daniel McKinney, a newcomer to the FAU program, brought leadership and experience to the receiving corps which was transitioning to a new offense. The junior played in every game and drew seven starts, giving way only when the Owls went to a two-tight end set. He recorded his first multiple reception game, in FAU's conference season opener versus MTSU, with five receptions for 75 yards. He put together back-to-back 60+ yard games, the first at USA overtime contest, the second in FAU's win over Troy. The junior recorded for catches in FAU's victory over WKU and two were for scores. McKinney recorded a career high seven receptions and 90 yards versus FIU. McKinney is second on the Owls in SBC games with 56.8 yards per game and 40 league receptions.
Sophomore Andrae Kirk appeared in every 2012 game, with seven starts. Registered four tackles (0.5 for loss) in win over Wagner. Had seven tackles against both SEC opponents (Georgia and Alabama) and forced a fumble against Bulldogs. He tallied five tackles, with one for a loss of two yards against the University of North Texas. Kirk also had five tackles and a quarterback hurry against USA. Kirk was credited with seven tackles (0.5 for loss) versus Troy. In his game at Navy, he had a season-high five solo tackles, nine total, a pass breakup and a key fumble recovery. He had three tackles and a pass breakup against FIU in the Shula Bowl. His final game of 2012 was his best to-date, matching his season high in solo tackles and adding six assist for a career and game high 11 total tackles, two were for a loss. He was also credited with two hurries and a broken pass.
The evening also included video highlights of the 2012 season as well as a lighthearted senior video.
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