Cleveland, Ohio - A total of 23 repeat selections from last year's All-MAC team highlights this year's postseason football awards in the Mid-American Conference.
Northern Illinois senior running back Chad Spann (Indianapolis, Ind.) was tabbed as the winner of the 29th Vern Smith Leadership Award, as voted on by the conference head coaches. The award is presented annually to the conference's top football player in honor of Vern Smith, the former University of Toledo Athletic Director.
Spann led the Huskies to an 8-0 conference record, 10-2 overall, and is tied for the lead in college football with 20 touchdowns this season. Spann ranks seventh in the nation in scoring per game (10.0 ppg) and 17th in rushing yards per game (103.2 ypg) on his 226 carries for 1,239 yards (5.5 avg.) this season. Spann set the Northern Illinois school record with 20 rushing touchdowns in a single season and his 48 total career touchdowns is tied with Michael Turner for second place on the Huskies' all-time list.
In other awards voted by the MAC News Media Association, Kent State freshman defensive tackle Roosevelt Nix earned two honors and was recognized as the MAC Freshman of the Year and the MAC Defensive Player of the Year. Miami Head Coach Mike Haywood was named as the MAC Head Coach of the Year, while Northern Illinois running back Chad Spann was honored as the MAC Offensive Player of the Year. Toledo kickoff returner Eric Page was named the MAC Special Teams Player of the Year.
Nix, a freshman defensive tackle (Reynoldsburg, Ohio), made a dramatic impact on the Kent State defense, which led the MAC in rush defense (97.2 ypg) and finished seventh in the nation. Nix led the MAC with 10 sacks and 20 tackles for loss and ranked second in the conference with four forced fumbles. Nix also ranked nationally in these categories as well-13th in sacks (10), tied for fifth in tackles for loss (20) and tied for ninth in forced fumbles (4).
Haywood, in his second year as Head Coach of Miami, orchestrated the greatest turnaround in college football this season and led the RedHawks as MAC East Division Champions. Miami finished the season 7-1 in the conference, 8-4 overall, which resulted in an increase of seven wins from the previous year (1-11 in 2009). Haywood's Miami squad ended the season on a four game winning streak.
Spann, a senior running back, led the MAC in rushing (1,239 yards) and rushing touchdowns (20). Spann was part of a Northern Illinois offense that led the conference in scoring (39.2 ppg) and rushing (279.2 ypg) to propel the program to a nine-game winning streak and acclaim from the national polls. The Huskies ended the regular season ranked No. 23 in the USA Today Coaches Poll and No. 24 in the Associated Press Poll.
Page, a sophomore kick returner (Toledo, Ohio), finished the regular season in a special way-with two kickoff returns of 99 and 95 yards in the regular season finale against Central Michigan, becoming the first Rocket player in school history to score twice in a single-game on kickoff returns. Page led the conference with three kickoff returns for touchdowns and paced the MAC with a 31.8 kickoff return average, which also ranked fourth in the nation in that category.
Temple led the way with eight first team selections, followed by Northern Illinois with six first team selections. Overall, Northern Illinois set the pace with 13 honorees, followed by Temple with 11 honorees, while Central Michigan and Kent State had nine total selections and Miami added eight total selections.
Defensive back Davonte Shannon (Buffalo) became one of only four players in MAC history to be named a four-time All-MAC first team selection. Shannon (2007-10) joins DB Barry Church, Toledo (2006-09), P Dave Zastudil, Ohio University (1998-2001) and QB Brian McClure, Bowling Green (1982-85) on this list.
There were a total of eleven student-athletes named to their second consecutive first team selection: OL Colin Madison (Temple), OL Darius Morris (Temple), RB Chad Spann (Northern Illinois), RB Bernard Pierce (Temple), LB Adrian Robinson (Temple), LB Nick Bellore (Central Michigan), LB Cobrani Mixon (Kent State), DL Muhammad Wilkerson (Temple), DL Elijah Joseph (Temple), DB Jaiquawn Jarrett (Temple) and P Matt Rinehart (Kent State).
2010 MAC Specialty Award Winners
Vern Smith Leadership Award Winner: Chad Spann, Northern Illinois
Coach of the Year: Mike Haywood, Miami
Offensive Player of the Year: Chad Spann, Northern Illinois
Defensive Player of the Year: Roosevelt Nix, Kent State
Special Teams Player of the Year: Eric Page, Toledo