Conference USA announced its 2012 Players of the Year, which are voted on by the league’s head football coaches.
Most Valuable Player Award: Marshall sophomore QB Rakeem Cato
Cato is the first underclassmen to win the award. He threw for 4,102 yards and 37 touchdowns. He leads the FBS in completions (406) and passing yards (4,201), is tied for second in touchdown passes (37) and is fifth in total offense (4,232) and completion percentage (69.5). He also led C-USA in pass efficiency (147.1).
Offensive Player of the Year: SMU senior RB Zach Line
Line led the league with 1,207 rushing yards, which is his third straight year with at least 1,000 yards rushing. He ran for 12 touchdowns this season, which gives him 45 in his career, the second-highest total in C-USA history.
Defensive Player of the Year: UCF senior DB Kemal Ishmael
Ishmael has started 48-straight games, beginning his true freshman season in 2009 and leads UCF in tackles for the third straight year (116 tackles in 2012).
Special Teams Player of the Year: UCF senior kick returner Quincy McDuffie
McDuffie ranks No. 2 in the nation in kickoff return average at 34.2, the second-highest figure in C-USA history. He has returned 17 kickoffs for 582 yards, including three for touchdowns (tied for second among all FBS players).
Freshman of the Year: Marshall RB Kevin Grooms
Grooms was a big part of the top-ranked offense in C-USA and led all freshmen in rushing with 737 yards. He had a team-high eight rushing touchdowns along with one receiving score. His 6.1 yards per carry was second-best in the league.
Newcomer of the Year: East Carolina junior RB Vintavious Cooper
Cooper became the first ECU player to rush for 1,000 yards (1,030) since 2009, surpassing the 100-yard mark in four games. He ran for seven touchdowns and grabbed another while catching 26 passes for 224 yards.