RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - On the day after the final weekend of the season, the CAA announced their honors for the year.
New Hampshire senior quarterback Kevin Decker was chosen as the 2011 CAA Football Offensive Player of the Year. The league's Defensive Player of the Year honor was awarded to Old Dominion senior defensive lineman Ronnie Cameron. William and Mary senior kick returner Jonathan Grimes repeated as CAA Football Special Teams Player of the Year and Towson third-year head coach Rob Ambrose picked up the CAA Football Coach of the Year award. Towson freshman running back Terrance West and Villanova linebacker Dillon Lucas were the league's Offensive and Defensive Rookies of the Year, respectively.
Decker was the Wildcats' offensive leader in helping them advance to the program's eighth-straight postseason. The Armonk, N.Y., native led the league averaging nearly 280 passing yards per game with an efficiency rating of 154.3, among the Top 10 nationally. Decker, a Walter Payton Award finalist, heads into an NCAA second round matchup against Montana State in Bozeman having completed a league-best 20 touchdown passes on the year. The senior is also among the Top 5 nationally averaging better than 317 yards of total offense over 11 games this season.
Cameron, a five-year journeyman in CAA Football after beginning his career at Hofstra, finished the year averaging 6.1 tackles per game for the Monarchs. The Westbury, N.Y., native led the conference in tackles for loss with 15.5 and ended the regular season with 7.5 sacks in 11 games. Cameron, who will lead the Monarchs into the program's first-ever postseason appearance Saturday when it hosts Norfolk State, ranked second among the league's defensive linemen with 67 tackles in 2011.
Grimes, the most decorated student-athlete in CAA Football history, ended his career with 11 individual honors including a repeat as the conference's Special Teams Player of the Year. The senior ranks among the league's Top-10 with a 22.1 kickoff-return average, but is among the league's best-ever in terms of all-purpose average and career all-purpose yardage. The Palmyra, N.J., native finished 2011 averaging better than 228 all-purpose yards per game which places him fifth among the single-season leaders all-time. His career total of 7,955 all-purpose yards make him third among CAA Football's career all-purpose leaders behind only Brian Westbrook and Jerry Azumah.
Ambrose's squad recently put an exclamation point on a "worst-to-first" regular season when the Tigers captured their first-ever league crown going 7-1 in CAA Football play. Prior to the 2011 season Towson had won just one conference game in two seasons under Ambrose. The team's emergence in 2011 has come from a balanced offensive attack with West running the ball and the passing efficiency of sophomore quarterback Grant Enders. Defensively, Towson boasts a Top 5 scoring defensive mark in the league while limiting opponents to just over 145 yards on the ground per game. The Tigers, which finished the regular season 6-1 against ranked opponents, also earned their first-ever FCS postseason berth this season and will host Lehigh in second round NCAA action, Dec. 3.
West, having only played in 10 games this season, has placed his name among those being mentioned for the Walter Payton Award, Jerry Rice Award and All-America status. The Baltimore, Md., native is 12 touchdowns shy of the league and national FCS record of 39 set by former Delaware running back Omar Cuff. On the year, West is averaging more than 124 yards per game and has a league-best mark of 6.8 yards-per-carry. West's 1,242 yards on the season pace the Towson rushing offense which leads the league averaging close to 240 yards a game.
Lucas, a leader among a very youthful Villanova program, finished the year with a national-freshman best 92 tackles and two sacks on the year. The Medford, N.J., native is a finalist for the Jerry Rice National Rookie of the Year honor, and was among the league's Top-10 linebackers averaging better than eight stops per contest.
2011 CAA Football Major Awards (as voted on by the head coaches)
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR - Kevin Decker, New Hampshire, Sr., QB, Armonk, N.Y.
DEFENSIVE PLAYERS OF THE YEAR - Ronnie Cameron, Old Dominion, Sr., DL, Westbury, N.Y.
SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE YEAR - Jonathan Grimes, William and Mary, Sr., KR, Palmyra, N.J.
OFFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR - Terrance West, Towson, Fr., RB, Baltimore, Md.
DEFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR - Dillon Lucas, Villanova, Fr., LB, Medford, N.J.
COACH OF THE YEAR - Rob Ambrose, Towson, Three Seasons