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Counts Tabbed Player of Year; Hicks Offensive Choice

December 4, 2001 · MT Media Relations
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - On Tuesday, the Sun Belt Conference concluded its first season of football by announcing all the individual award winners for the 2001 campaign and Middle Tennessee was featured prominently. Highlighting the postseason award winners, which were chosen by a voting panel of the league's head coaches, media relations directors and selected media, were Blue Raider signal-caller Wes Counts and running back Dwone Hicks.

"This is just one of the many things that makes being in a league great," head coach Andy McCollum said. "Our players always put team first, but it is still great to earn recognition like some of our guys did today. To have the Player of the Year and the Offensive Player of the Year in the same season is a great honor for our program and University."

Counts, the nation's leader in completion percentage, was chosen as the league's Player of the Year, while Hicks was tabbed the Sun Belt's Offensive Player of the Year. Counts, who owns every passing mark at Middle Tennessee, led the league in passing efficiency, completion percentage, touchdown passes and had the league's fewest interceptions.

Hicks, the nation's third leading scorer, won the Sun Belt rushing title with 1,143 yards and also led the league in points scored (148) and touchdowns (24). The junior had the SBC's top rushing effort of the season when he ripped Vanderbilt in the opener for 203 yards.

In all, the Blue Raiders had seven players named first team all-SBC while four earned second team honors. Co-Champion North Texas (5-6) had a league best 16 different players honored, while Middle Tennessee (8-3) had 11.

Blue Raiders who made the Sun Belt Conference's first team were Counts, Hicks, wide receiver Kendall Newson, offensive lineman Brandon Westbrook, defensive tackle Tanaka Scott, linebacker Scotty Brown, and defensive back Jykine Bradley.

Second team performers for the Blue Raiders were center Glen Elarbee, safety Michael Woods, punter Robert Billings, and running back Reshard Lee for his all-purpose ability.

North Texas swept the top remaining awards with linebacker Brad Kassell being chosen as the Sun Belt's Defensive Player of the Year, wide receiver Ja'Mel Branch was the Freshman of the Year and running back Kevin Galbreath was selected Newcomer of the Year.

Darrell Dickey was named the league's Coach of the Year after guiding the Mean Green to a 5-6 record and a share of the conference title with Middle Tennessee.

Following is a list of all award winners (*unanimous picks):

FIRST TEAM
Offensive Line: Garry Johnson, Jr., Arkansas State, J.R. Randle, Jr., North Texas, Brandon Westbrook, So., Middle Tennessee, Tony Wragge, Sr., New Mexico State, Nick Zuniga, So., North Texas

Tight End: Jeff Muenchow, Jr., North Texas

Quarterback: Wes Counts, Sr., Middle Tennessee

Wide Receiver: Chris Lacy, Sr., Idaho, Kendall Newson, Sr., Middle Tennessee

Running Back: *Kevin Galbreath, Jr., North Texas, Dwone Hicks, Jr., Middle Tennessee

Defensive Line: *Brandon Kennedy, So., North Texas, Donald Malveaux, Sr., UL-Monroe, Joe Olivo, So., New Mexico State, Tanaka Scott, Sr., Middle Tennessee

Linebacker: *Brad Kassell, Sr., North Texas, Scotty Brown, Sr., Middle Tennessee, D'Wayne Taylor, Sr., New Mexico State

Defensive Back: Jykine Bradley, Sr., Middle Tennessee, Jonas Buckles, Fr., North Texas, Siddeeq Shabazz, Jr., New Mexico State, Charles Tillman, Jr., UL-Lafayette

Special Teams: Jason Ball, Sr., North Texas (placekicker and punter), James Hickenbotham, Jr., Arkansas State (Return Specialist and All-Purpose)

SECOND TEAM
Offensive Line: Glen Elarbee, Jr., Middle Tennessee, Shalimar Jackson, Jr., New Mexico State, Jonathon Raush, Jr., UL Lafayette, Jake Scott, So., Idaho, Matt Turney, Jr., North Texas

Tight End: Jerry Pegues, Sr., Arkansas State

Quarterback: K.C. Enzminger, Sr., New Mexico State, John Welsh, Sr., Idaho

Wide Receiver: Nick Dugas, Jr., UL-Lafayette, George Marshall, Jr., North Texas

Running Back: Jonathan Adams, Sr., Arkansas State, Kenton Keith, Sr., New Mexico State

Defensive Line: Jonathan Bradley, Jr., Arkansas State, Brandon Kania, Fr., Idaho, Alex Pahulu, Sr., North Texas, Ron Paris, Sr., North Texas Linebacker: Ross Brupbacher, Jr., UL-Lafayette, Maurice Sonnier, So., UL-Monroe, Cody Spencer, So., North Texas

Defensive Back: Dedrick Buckels, Sr., UL-Monroe, Kyries Hebert, Sr., UL-Lafayette, Craig Jones, So., North Texas, Michael Woods, So., Middle Tennessee

Special Teams: Dario Aguiniga, So., New Mexico State (placekicker), Robert Billings, So., Middle Tennessee (punter), Tony Lukins, Sr., New Mexico State, Reshard Lee, So., Middle Tennessee

Player of the Year: Wes Counts, QB, Sr., Middle Tennessee
Offensive Player of the Year: Dwone Hicks, RB, Jr., Middle Tennessee
Defensive Player of the Year: Brad Kassell, LB, Sr., North Texas
Freshman of the Year: Ja'Mel Branch, WR, North Texas
Newcomer of the Year: Kevin Galbreath, RB, Jr., North Texas
Coach of the Year: Darrell Dickey, North Texas

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