BLAKE MATTHEWS, OL
Spartans Take Home 3 Top MEAC Football Awards; 10 Named All-Conference
Matt Michalec, SID
11/22/2011 5:46:00 PM
2011 All-MEAC Football Teams
NORFOLK, Va. – Norfolk State claimed three of the top five MEAC postseason awards as the conference released its 2011 honorees on Tuesday. Senior quarterback Chris Walley (Tallahassee, Fla.) was named the Co-Offensive Player of the Year, Pete Adrian was named MEAC Coach of the Year, and junior right tackle Blake Matthews was selected Offensive Lineman of the Year in voting by league coaches and sports information directors.
Walley and Matthews were two of NSU’s school-record seven All-MEAC first-team performers. In all, the Spartans had 10 All-MEAC selections, tying the 2007 team for most in school history. Other first-team honorees include senior left tackle Kendall Noble, junior receiver Xavier Boyce, senior nose guard Josh Turner, senior linebacker Corwin Hammond and senior placekicker Ryan Estep. Second-team picks were junior tight end Joe Hawkins, senior defensive lineman Joey Christine and senior free safety DeVonte Reynolds.
Walley is NSU’s first-ever MEAC Offensive Player of the Year. He led the MEAC in passing yards (2,309), completion percentage (69.2), efficiency (148.54), touchdown passes (17) and total offense (235.0 yards per game). He was a three-time MEAC Offensive Player of the Week selection and earned national FCS Co-Offensive Player of the Week honors from The Sports Network after the win at Savannah State. Walley accounted for 22 touchdowns this year, including a team-best five on the ground. His 2,309 passing yards are third-most for a single season in school history. He shared the award with running back Mike Mayhew of N.C. A&T.
Adrian earned his second MEAC Coach of the Year honor. The Spartans won a Division I era record nine regular-season games, second-most in school history behind the 1984 team that went 10-2 in the CIAA. NSU claimed its first-ever MEAC football title in 2011, the program’s highest-ever FCS national ranking (No. 19 – this week) and will make its first-ever FCS playoff appearance this Saturday. Adrian also won the award in 2007.
Matthews, a first-year starter, started all 11 games at right tackle and was a consistent standout on a line which allowed just 13 sacks in 11 games, second-fewest in the conference. Matthews and his line mates also helped NSU rank second in the MEAC in total offense (392.6 ypg), second in pass offense (225.1) and third in rushing offense (167.5). Matthews was named MEAC Offensive Lineman of the Week after the win over Howard.
Noble earned All-MEAC honors for the third time, but is making his first appearance on the first team. Noble has started 43 straight games and teamed with Matthews as a formidable pair of bookend tackles.
Boyce led NSU with 65 receptions for 725 yards. Boyce, who also caught four touchdown passes, led the MEAC in receptions most of the year before being limited to one catch after a finger injury in the season finale at Morgan State. He ranks 18th nationally with 5.9 receptions per game, and his 65 catches are the most in NSU’s Division I era and second-most for all eras.
Estep led the MEAC and ranks third in the nation in field goals made (1.8 per game). He finished the regular season 20-for-21 on field goal tries and a perfect 33-for-33 on extra points. Estep established a new school record for field goals in a season, breaking Justin Castellat’s record of 15 in 2007. He also led the MEAC in scoring this year with 93 points (8.5 per game).
Turner earned All-MEAC honors for the third time, and a first-team nod for the second time. Despite facing double and sometimes triple-teams as the nose guard in NSU’s 3-4 defense, Turner finished fifth on the team with 44 tackles, including five tackles for loss and two sacks. He also forced a fumble.
Hammond led NSU and tied for fourth in the MEAC with 108 tackles. He also had a team-high 13 tackles for loss to go with 2.5 sacks, two pass breakups, four quarterback hurries, two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble. Hammond and his teammates helped NSU rank first in the MEAC and rank in the top five nationally in total defense (266.0 ypg allowed) and scoring defense (15.5 ppg), both the best in NSU’s Division I era.
Hawkins emerged as a standout in his first year as a starting tight end at NSU. He caught 14 passes for 208 yards and three touchdowns. Hawkins averaged 14.9 yards per catch, second-highest on the squad for players with at least 10 receptions.
Christine capped off his second full year as a starter with his first All-MEAC honor. Christine started all 11 games and made 44 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks, second-most on the team and tied for ninth in the conference. He forced two fumbles and recovered one.
Reynolds was a steady presence for NSU’s No. 2 ranked pass defense. He was fourth on the team with 50 tackles and led the Spartans with three interceptions. Reynolds also broke up three passes for a total of six passes defended.
Bethune-Cookman lineman Ryan Davis was named Defensive Player of the Year and Howard quarterback Greg McGhee earned Rookie of the Year accolades.
NSU led all MEAC schools with 10 total All-MEAC selections and seven first-teamers. Florida A&M was next with eight total All-MEAC picks, Bethune-Cookman and Howard had seven each, South Carolina State had five, Morgan State, North Carolina A&T and Hampton four apiece, and North Carolina Central one.