Dec. 5, 2007
PROVIDENCE, R.I.--University of Cincinnati Head Football Coach Brian Kelly was recognized as the BIG EAST Conference Coach of the Year, while the Bearcats claimed nine all-BIG EAST honors, the league unveiled today. The 10 honors are the most for Cincinnati since listing 11 on the 1996 all-Conference USA team.
Kelly was named Coach of the Year after directing Cincinnati to a 9-3 record, including a 4-3 league mark, and a No. 20 ranking in the Associated Press Poll.
Kelly stated, "It is an honor to be recognized by my peers as the BIG EAST Coach of the Year. This refl ects upon the effort and commitment given by our coaching staff and team."
Cincinnati ended the regular season with nine victories for the fourth time in school history, including three wins over Top 25 teams. UC is set to tangle with the University of Southern Mississippi at the Papajohns.com Bowl on Dec. 22 in Birmingham, Ala. A triumph over the Golden Eagles would complete the second 10-win campaign in school history.
Kevin Huber (Cincinnati, OH), captured the BIG EAST Conference Special Teams Player of the Year Award, and was also chosen as the first-team all-BIG EAST punter. A junior, Huber is a finalist for the 2007 Ray Guy Award which is given to the nation's top punter. The local product ended the regular season leading all divisions in the NCAA with his 46.9 yards per punt average.
Three Bearcats were named to the all-BIG EAST first team defense, including a pair of unanimous choices. In addition, four more players received second-team mention.
A unanimous first-team all-BIG EAST selection, senior Haruki Nakamura (Elyria, OH) registered a team-high 86 tackles. Nakamura heads into his final collegiate game with a string of 36 consecutive starts at safety. The other unanimous first-team all-BIG EAST pick, junior Mike Mickens (Huber Heights, OH) shares the league lead with six interceptions. Mickens was a second-team pick in each of his first two seasons. Junior defensive tackle Terrill Byrd (Cincinnati, OH) earned first team defensive line for the second consecutive year. Second on the squad with 14 tackles for loss and six sacks, Byrd leads a defensive push that set a school record with 11 sacks in its last outing at Syracuse.
The second-team all-conference defense honorees were senior defensive end Anthony Hoke
(Warren, OH) and junior cornerback DeAngelo Smith
(Columbus, OH). For the second time in as many years, guard Trevor Canfield
(Cincinnati, OH) was listed on the second-team offensive unit. Redshirt freshman Marcus Barnett
(Upper Marlboro, MD) was a second-team choice at wide receiver.
The Bearcats begin their bowl preparations on Monday, Dec. 10, for the Papajohns.com Bowl. Tickets for the matchup against Southern Miss. are available by logging on to www.CATSTIX.com. Travel packages for fans, including same-day packages, and tickets for UC Students, are also available through www.GoBEARCATS.com's Bowl Central.