IRVING, Texas – East Carolina junior KR Dwayne Harris continued to add hardware to his trophy case Wednesday when he was named Conference USA Special Teams Player-of-the-Year, as selected by the league’s 12 head football coaches.
Harris becomes the second Pirate in three years to win the honor, following Chris Johnson in 2007. The Stone Mountain, Ga. native has posted 2,002 all-purpose yards, the second-highest single-season total in school history. Included are 932 yards on 34 kickoff returns (27.4 avg.) and he became the first player ECU and C-USA history to return three kickoffs for touchdowns in one season. Earlier in the week, Harris earned All C-USA honors as a wide receiver (first-team) and kick returner (second-team) and was named the Most Valuable Player of the 2009 C-USA Championship Game back on Dec. 5.
Houston junior QB Case Keenum was named the recipient of the C-USA Most Valuable Player Award. He has set Conference USA single-season records for pass attempts (659) and completions (468), throwing for 5,449 yards (fourth-highest total in FBS history) and 43 touchdowns with just nine interceptions. Keenum leads the nation in total offense (429.31 ypg.), passing (419.15 ypg.) and touchdown passes (43). The first team All-C-USA selection was named Offensive Player of the Week a record six times and he threw for more than 500 yards on five occasions. His efforts have led Houston to its fifth straight bowl game as its gets ready to face Air Force in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl on December 31 in Fort Worth, Texas.
UAB senior QB Joe Webb was named Offensive Player-of-the-Year, marking the 10th time in the last 12 years that a quarterback has won the award. He became the first player in NCAA history to throw for 2,000 yards and rush for 1,000 in consecutive seasons, finishing with 2,299 passing yards and 1,427 on the ground in 2009. Webb's rushing total is the third-highest single-season total by a quarterback in NCAA history. He currently ranks No. 5 in the country in total offense (310.5), No. 12 in rushing (118.9) and No. 12 in pass efficiency (150.7) and is one of only three players in the nation in 2009 to rush for a TD, pass for a TD and record a TD reception in the same game Webb rushed for more than 100 yards in eight games during the 2009 season.
Defensive recognition went to UCF junior DE Bruce Miller, who becomes the first Knight to win the honor. Miller leads Conference USA and ranks fifth nationally in sacks with 12, including 10 solo. He also tops the league lead in tackles for loss with 16.5, totaling 122 lost yards. Miller has posted 53 total tackles, broke up three pass attempts and forced a fumble. With Miller leading the way up front, UCF leads Conference USA in total defense, rushing defense and scoring defense.
For the second-straight season, the league’s Freshman-of-the-Year is a running back from Houston, as Charles Sims follows up Bryce Beall’s selection last year. Sims leads the Cougars in rushing touchdowns with nine, while running for 632 yards. As a receiver, he has caught 64 passes for 702 yards and one touchdown. His receiving yardage total is tops among all C-USA freshmen.
Junior WR James Cleveland of Houston garnered the league’s Newcomer-of-the-Year award. Cleveland set a Conference USA single-game record with 19 receptions in the C-USA Championship Game, raising his season total to 101, making him one of six FBS players to catch 100 passes this season. Cleveland, who missed two games due to injury, ranks second in the nation in receptions per game (11.7) and is tied for third in touchdown receptions with 14. His receptions have totaled 1,182 yards, a figure which ranks second in C-USA and eighth nationally.