Tag Archives: Desmond Ridder

2018 AAC Awards

AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: NATE HARVEY, EAST CAROLINA

Harvey enjoyed a breakout season as a senior at ECU in 2018.
Photo: ECU Athletics

Harvey enjoyed a breakout season as a senior at ECU in 2018 after spending last season primarily on special teams. Harvey, ECU’s starting right defensive end, finished third nationally in tackles for loss with 25.5. However, he finished first in tackles for loss per game with 2.1.

Harvey broke The American’s single-season record of 23.0 tackles for loss, set by Houston’s Ed Oliver last year, and he tied Louisville’s Marcus Smith (2013) for the conference’s single-season record of 14.5 sacks. In addition, Harvey has 59 tackles, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: McKENZIE MILTON, CENTRAL FLORIDA

Milton has undergone five surgeries since his injury in November.
Photo: Reinhold Matay/USATODAYSports

Milton became the first player to repeat as The American’s Offensive Player of the Year as he served as the catalyst behind an offense that lead the conference and ranked fifth nationally at 531.5 yards per game and averaging 43.1 points per game. Milton threw for 2,663 yards and 25 touchdowns with six interceptions and rushed for 307 yards and a team-high nine TDs in 2018. He ranked 10th nationally in pass efficiency (161.0), third in yards per completion (15.57) and sixth in points responsible for per game (20.4).

McKenzie Milton led the UCF Golden Knights to 23 straight wins before suffering a season-ending leg injury.

SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Isaiah Wright, Temple

Temple’s Isaiah Wright has run the wildcat formation for the Owls.
Photo: Clem Murray/Philly.com

Wright becomes the first Temple player to earn Special Teams Player of the Year honors from The American. Wright scored a nation-leading three special teams touchdowns in 2018 and enters the postseason as the conference leader in punt return average (13.9 yards per return). Wright is third in the conference in kickoff return average (25.9 ypr) and fifth in all-purpose yards (119.0 yards per game).

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati

Ridder’s high school coach Will Wolford played in the NFL.
Photo: The Athletic

Ridder took over as the Bearcats’ quarterback in the second quarter of the season-opening win at UCLA and has led Cincinnati to a 10-2 record. He threw for 2,445 yards and 20 touchdowns with five interceptions and has rushed for 583 yards and five TDs as a redshirt freshman. He ranked fourth in The American in pass efficiency (145.7) and fifth in total offense (245.4 yards per game).

COACH OF THE YEAR: Luke Fickell, Cincinnati

Fickell is one of the ascending coaches in college football.
Photo: Sam Greene/USATODAYSports

Fickell was chosen by his peers as The American’s Coach of the Year after he orchestrated a six-win improvement in his second year on the Cincinnati sideline. After going 4-8 in his first year, Fickell has led the Bearcats to a 10-2 overall record, a 4-0 in mark in nonconference games and a 6-2 conference mark in 2018. The Bearcats returned to the national polls for the first time since 2013, ranking as high as No. 19 in the Nov. 11 Associated Press poll. 

Military Bowl – Dec 31

Cincinnati Bearcats (10-2) vs Virginia Tech Hokies (6-6)

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CINCINNATI | AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE

Coach: Luke Fickell

Cincinnati Players to watch:

**Sophomore P James Smith (6-5/225)

Smith was named a Third-Team All-America selection by the Associated Press.
Photo: Joseph Garnett Jr. /Getty Images

Smith leads the AAC and is No. 4 in the NCAA FBS averaging 47.0 ypp. The Bearcats led the American in net punting and rank No. 2 in the NCAA FBS (44.5). Smith had a career-long 72-yard punt against Temple and dropped 23 kicks inside the 20-yard line with 16 going 50 yards or more with only one touchback. Smith is an Aussie.

***Freshman QB Desmond Ridder (6-4/215)

Ridder, a redshirt freshman, burst onto the scene this year, starting 11 games, completing 62.5 percent of his passes, throwing for 2,359 yards, 19 TDs and adding another 574 yards rushing along with five more scores.

Senior LT Dino Boyd (6-4/300)

Boyd joined UC in late July as a grad transfer from Rhode Island and started 12 games at left tackle, helping block for an offensive unit which ranked No. 16 in the NCAA FBS averaging 238.1 yards per game and had the team’s first 1,000-yard rusher since 2012.

Senior DT Cortez Broughton (6-3/288)

Broughton really stepped his game up this year. He ranks No. 5 in the AAC in sacks and no. 5 in tackles for loss. His season numbers (6.5 sacks, 17.5 TFL) surpassed his career numbers entering 2018 (3.5 sacks, 10 TFL).

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VIRGINIA TECH | ATLANTIC COASTAL CONFERENCE

Coach: Justin Fuente

Virginia Tech Players to watch:

Senior DT Ricky Walker (6-2/304)

Walker has accepted an invitation to play in the East-West Shrine Game on Jan. 19th.
Photo: Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Walker has 30.5 tackles for loss, 8.0 sacks and 127 total tackles in his career entering the Hokies’ appearance in the Military Bowl on Dec. 31.
In 12 starts at defensive tackles this season, Walker has posted 10.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, a pass breakup, two forced fumbles and a career-high 49 total tackles (23 solo).

**Sophomore WR Damon Hazelton (6-2/217)

Hazelton leads all Hokies with 45 catches for 745 yards, while his 62.1 yards per game receiving average ranks seventh in the conference. The Ball State transfer has posted three 100-yard receiving games for Tech in 2018.

**Sophomore P Oscar Bradburn (6-1/200)

Like Cincinnati’s Smith, Bradburn is also an Aussie. He ranks fourth in the ACC in gross punting average (42.2) and second in the conference with 23 punts inside the 20-yard line. The Sydney, Australia native has helped the Hokies allow only 184 punt return yards this season.

**Sophomore TE Dalton Keene (6-4/242)

Keene has had a breakout season for the Hokies, registered 19 catches for 302 receiving yards (15.9 avg.) to go along with three touchdowns. Keene has also played a critical role blocking in the run game and has started 23 consecutive games at tight end, dating back to last season.

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Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman
Cincinnati 35, Virginia Tech 31