IRVING, Texas – East Carolina inside linebacker Jeremy Grove has been selected as the 2011 Conference USA Freshman-of-the-Year according to an announcement from the league office Wednesday afternoon. Grove becomes the first Pirate to receive the league’s top rookie honor and joins Chris Johnson, Dwayne Harris and Dominique Davis as recipients of a player-of-the-year award from C-USA. Johnson (2007) and Harris (2009) were voted the league’s top special teams players while Harris was tabbed as the most valuable player and Davis the newcomer-of-the-year last season.
Grove, who earned Honorable Mention All-Conference USA and C-USA All-Freshman Team accolades Tuesday, was East Carolina’s leading tackler with 122 stops this season. He set the Pirate rookie record and tallied the third-most hits by an ECU player in the last 14 years, behind only Pernell Griffin (153/2001) and Chris Moore (148/2003). Grove currently stands third in the league and 10th among all FBS players with 11.1 tackles per game. He is the only freshman ranked within the top 88.
The Frederick, Md., product totaled a squad-high five quarterback hurries (one/South Carolina, two/Virginia Tech, one/Tulane, one/UCF), 3.5 tackles for lost yardage (-15 yards), a pair of pass breakups (Virginia Tech, Southern Miss) and one sack (UCF) during the year.
He was East Carolina's defensive leader during Conference USA contests, pacing the unit with 75 tackles, good for an average of 10.7 per contest. In the final two games of the year, against Marshall and UCF, Grove recorded a combined 20 stops. He led the team with nine hits versus the Thundering Herd and made six in the third quarter alone, including five tackles during Marshall’s 14-play drive. A week earlier in the Pirates’ 38-31 victory over Knights, he tallied 11 tackles, booking six in the opening half.
Against UAB in East Carolina’s league opener, Grove tallied a career-high 15 stops, the most in a game for an ECU player since Nick Johnson’s 16 at Marshall Oct. 3, 2009. Grove added a career second-best 14 hits at Houston and a personal-high eight solo tackles versus Navy. Facing rival North Carolina, he booked 13 stops, all in the first three quarters. Against another Atlantic Coast Conference opponent, Virginia Tech, Grove registered a career-high two quarterback hurries and collected nine-of-12 tackles during the first half.
Houston quarterback Case Keenum was named the Conference USA Most Valuable Player while teammates Patrick Edwards and Tyron Carrier were selected as the league’s offensive and special teams players-of-the-year, respectively, and Cougar defensive back D.J. Hayden was tabbed the newcomer-of-the-year. UH’s Kevin Sumlin received the league’s coach-of-the-year honor after leading his squad to a West Division title and a ranking as high as No. 6 in the Bowl Championship Series standings. Marshall’s Vinny Curry took home the final C-USA individual award as the defensive player-of-the-year honoree.
2011 Conference USA Award Winners
Most Valuable Player – Case Keenum, Houston
Offensive Player-of-the-Year – Patrick Edwards, Houston
Defensive Player-of-the-Year – Vinny Curry, Marshall
Special Teams Player-of-the-Year – Tyron Carrier, Houston
Coach-of-the-Year – Kevin Sumlin, Houston
Freshman-of-the-Year – Jeremy Grove, East Carolina
Newcomer-of-the-Year – D.J. Hayden, Houston