Broncos dominate MAC football honors
Nov. 30, 2005
KALAMAZOO--For the first time since 1993, the Mid-American Conference's Offensive Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year, Coach of the Year and Vern Smith Award winner all hail from the same university. Western Michigan University's Bronco football program produced the 2005 winners of all four awards.
Senior wide receiver Greg Jennings was named the conference's Offensive Player of the Year and captured the Vern Smith Award, along with the University of Toledo's Bruce Gradkowski. Quarterback Tim Hiller earned the first MAC Freshman of the Year Award for WMU since runningback Robert Sanford got the honor in 1997, and Coach Bill Cubit became the fourth Bronco football head coach to receive Coach of the Year honors.
In his first year as a Division I-A head coach, Cubit has put together a staff that has brought the Bronco football program back from a 1-10 season in 2004. Under his tutelage, the Broncos went 7-4 this season and 5-3 in the Mid-American Conference. The five conference wins are the most in MAC history following an 0-8 campaign the previous year.
WMU's seven overall wins this season rank as the second-biggest turnaround in the nation behind only Central Florida. This is the first winning season for the Broncos since the 2000 campaign. He became the fourth Bronco coach to receive the award and the first since Gary Darnell in 2000.
Jennings became the first wide receiver to win both the Vern Smith Award and the Offensive Player of the Year Award since Marshall University's Randy Moss took both honors in 1997. Prior to this season, there had never been a tie in the 24-year history of the award, but this was a history-making season for the Broncos.
Jennings finished with WMU's all-time career records in number of receptions (238), touchdowns (39) and all-purpose yards (5,050). He also owns the single-season marks for receptions (98), touchdowns (14) and yards (1,259). Jennings led the nation in receptions-per-game (8.91) and ranked second in touchdowns and in yards-per-game (114.45).
Hiller played in seven of 11 games, making five starts. During his relatively short playing time--he did not play enough to be eligible for conference and national rankings--he amassed 20 touchdowns and 1,334 yards.
Although it doesn't count in the rankings, Hiller's passing efficiency of 178.85 is higher than that of UCLA's Drew Olson, currently ranked as the nation's most efficient quarterback. Hiller's 20 scoring strikes rank third all-time for a single season at WMU and is the best performance ever by a Bronco freshman.
More MAC honors for Broncos
Senior Trovon Riley, the nation's 15th best rusher at 115.86 yards-per-game, led the conference in rushing for the first time in his career en route to being named to the All-MAC Second Team. Riley rushed for 1,004 yards on 220 attempts. He is the first Bronco to eclipse the millennium mark on the ground since Philip Reed in 2002 and finished his career with 1,967 yards carrying the ball.
In all, five Broncos were named to all-conference teams. Jennings was named to the All-MAC First Team, along with tight end Tony Scheffler. Scheffler and Jennings combined for 24 touchdowns this season. That was second nationally to only Jeff Samardzija and Maurice Stovall of Notre Dame. Scheffler ranks third in the nation among tight ends in receptions (5.18) and fifth in the country in yards-per-game (60.9). Scheffler finished 2005 second all-time among Bronco tight ends in receptions (117) and yards (1,345).
On the defensive side, Ameer Ismail garnered All-MAC First Team honors with his team-leading 20.0 tackles for loss and 8.0 sacks. Ismail ranked second on the team in total tackles with 93 stops (41 solo). His 20 stops behind the line of scrimmage tied for sixth nationally with Justin Parrish of Kent State and Mario Williams of North Carolina State. Ismail also ranked 34th in the country with his eight quarterback sacks for a combined loss of 66 yards. The junior put points on the board for the Broncos, recovering a blocked point-after-attempt against Temple and returning a fumble 53 yards for a score at Bowling Green.
Louis Delmas, the lone underclassmen of WMU's all-conference honorees, earned second team recognition for his work in the Broncos' defensive backfield. Delmas finished third on the team in tackles (82) and led WMU with three interceptions and eight deflected passes. Delmas ranked ninth in the conference and tied for 74th in the nation with his .27 picks per game. He also returned a blocked extra point for a score this season, versus Ball State.
WMU finished the season 7-4 overall and 5-2 in conference play. The Broncos finished second in the MAC West Division, after being picked to finish fifth, and put together the biggest season-to-season turnaround in the history of the Mid-American Conference.
Media contact: Daniel Jankowski, (269) 387-4138, email@example.com