Offensive Player of the Year: A.J. Hines, RB, Duquesne
The NEC named Hines its Offensive Player of the Year. He earned all-NEC first team recognition each of his first three seasons at Duquesne and won the Jerry Rice Award for the top freshman in the FCS in 2016.
The 5-foot-11, 225-pound Hines, also became Duquesne’s first AP All-American running back, rushing for 1,520 yards — the third-highest total in the country — and accounting for 17 total touchdowns as the Dukes won the Northeast Conference championship. Hines piled up 246 yards and two scores in Duquesne’s 31-10 first-round win over Towson, the first FCS playoff win in school history.
Defensive Player of the Year: Cam Gill, LB, Wagner
Junior outside linebacker Cam Gill was named the Northeast Conference Defensive Player of the year. The Georgia native finish with 13.5 sacks for minus 76 yards as he finished the regular season ranked No. 4 nationally, and No. 1 in the NEC, with 1.23 sacks per game and No. 2 nationally, and No. 1 in the NEC, with 2.2 tackles for loss per game.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Julius Chestnut, RB, Sacred Heart
The Bowie, MD, freshman finished third in the NEC with 1,520 rushing yards on 266 attempts. He averaged 126.7 yards per game and scored 15 touchdowns. At 6-1/221, Chestnut pulverizes opposing defenses.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Jalen Brown, DT, Saint Francis
St. Francis freshman defensive tackle Jalen Brown earned the Defensive Rookie of the Year award, becoming the first Red Flash player to earn the Defensive Rookie of the Year award since Lorenzo Jerome in 2013. Brown recorded 19 tackles, including 2.5 for losses. The defensive tackle helped solidify a unit that led the Northeast Conference and is top-20 in the FCS, allowing just 119 rushing yards per game.