Dec. 8, 2011
Major Award Winners Video
PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Eight University of Cincinnati football student-athletes earned All-BIG EAST Conference honors, and the Bearcats took home three of the top individual awards as the league office announced its postseason football accolades Thursday.
Senior running back Isaiah Pead (Columbus, Ohio/Eastmoor Academy) was named BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Year, senior defensive tackle Derek Wolfe (Lisbon, Ohio/Beaver Local) tied for BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year and Head Coach Butch Jones was named the league's Coach of the Year.
Along with Pead, who was a unanimous first team selection, and Wolfe, junior defensive back Drew Frey (Wilmington, Ohio/Clinton-Massie), senior offensive guard Randy Martinez (Teaneck, N.J./Teaneck), junior punter Pat O'Donnell (Lakeworth, Fla./Palm Beach Central) and senior linebacker J.K. Schaffer (Cincinnati, Ohio/LaSalle) also earned First Team All-BIG EAST honors.
Senior offensive tackle Alex Hoffman (Indianapolis, Ind./Cathedral) and senior quarterback Zach Collaros (Steubenville, Ohio/Steubenville) both earned spots on the league's second team.
Pead was one of three 1,000-yard rushers in the BIG EAST, tallying 1,110 yards along with a league high 14 touchdowns. Pead is the first UC back in 25 yards to have 1,000-yards rushing in back-to-back seasons. He also became just the third UC RB all time to eclipse 3,000 career rushing yards.
Wolfe leads the BIG EAST and ranks sixth nationally with 19.5 tackles for a loss and ranks third in the league and tied for 12th in the FBS with 9.5 sacks. Wolfe sits in fourth place on the UC career sacks list with 19.5 and 10th place on the UC career tackles for loss list with 35.0.
Jones, in his second season at UC, guided the Bearcats to their third conference championship in four years, led the team back to a bowl game after a 1-year hiatus and helped the program more than double its win total of a year ago. Jones earned his third conference championship as a head coach (2007, 2009 at Central Michigan, 2011 at Cincinnati) and his 40th career victory in the season finale against Connecticut. UC finished the regular season 9-3 (5-2 BIG EAST) and will play Vanderbilt in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 31, 2011 in Memphis, Tenn.
Frey was second on the team with 67 tackles. He added 2.5 tackles for a loss, a pair of interceptions which included a pick six in the season finale, six pass break ups, eight passes defended and two QB hurries.
Hoffman and Martinez helped anchor an offensive line that finished second in the BIG EAST in sacks allowed, giving up just 1.5 per game and paved the way for a 1,000-yard rusher for the second-straight season.
UC led the BIG EAST in net punting behind the kicking of Pat O'Donnell. O'Donnell, a semifinalist for the Ray Guy Award, finished with a net punting average of 43.9 yards per kick, including 25 kicks dropped inside the 20 and a league high 15 boots of 50 yards or more. O'Donnell also handled the kickoff duties, averaging 63.9 yards per kick and giving the opponent and average starting field position on the 27-yard line.
Schaffer ranks third in the BIG EAST in tackles, averaging 8.8 per game. He finished with 105 tackles in the regular season, the third straight year he has eclipsed that mark, making him only the fifth UC player all time to do so. He is the BIG EAST's leading active tackler with 328 stops. He also had 12 tackles for a loss, 3.5 sacks, three interceptions, six pass break ups, nine passes defended, a QB hurry and three forced fumbles and recoveries.
Collaros, a unanimous first team honoree a year ago, missed the final 3.5 games of the regular season after suffering a broken right ankle against West Virginia. Prior to his injury, Collaros was 154-of-243 for 1,860 yards and 14 touchdowns. His 140.1 pass efficiency rating still ranks second in the BIG EAST. This season, he became only the second QB in UC history to throw for 5,000-career yards and 50 TDs.
The Bearcats return to action against Vanderbilt in the 53rd AutoZone Liberty Bowl on Dec. 31, 2011 at Liberty Bowl Stadium in Memphis, Tenn. The game will kickoff at 3:30 p.m. ET and air on ABC.
Tickets for the Liberty Bowl are on sale now at CATSTIX.com and are priced at $50. Fans that do not purchase online can call 1-877-CATS-TIX or visit the Athletics Ticket Office on the fourth floor of the Richard E. Lindner Center in Varsity Village.
For further information on the Bearcats' trip to the 2011 AutoZone Liberty Bowl, please visit bowl central at GoBEARCATS.com. Some of the information available includes: travel packages with Provident Travel, important dates and deadlines, ticket details and general bowl information.