December 11, 2018
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11 UMaine football players earn CAA honors; Harasymiak named coach of the year

Ashley L. Conti | BDN
Ashley L. Conti | BDN
University of Maine's Earnest Edwards (left) tries to avoid a tackle attempt from New Hampshire's Pop Lacey during their football game at Alfond Stadium at the University of Maine in Orono, Nov. 19, 2016.

ORONO, Maine — The University of Maine placed 11 players on the Colonial Athletic Association all-conference football team and Joe Harasymiak was recognized as the league coach of the year.

The CAA champion Black Bears (8-3) placed four players on the All-CAA first team headed by kick returner Earnest Edwards, who also was named a second-team wide receiver. Defensive lineman Kayon Whitaker, linebacker Sterling Sheffield and cornerback Manny Patterson also gained first-team nods.

UMaine placed six players on the second team, including tight end Drew Belcher, offensive lineman Liam Dobson, defensive lineman Charles Mitchell, linebacker Deshawn Stevens and specialist Mozai Nelson.

Wide receiver Micah Wright and offensive lineman Cody Levy claimed spots on the All-CAA third team.

The conference awards were determined by a vote of the 12 head coaches.

Harasymiak, who on Monday was recognized as a finalist for the STATS FCS Eddie Robinson National Coach of the Year award, led UMaine to its most overall (8) and conference (7) victories since 2013. The Black Bears earned the league title and the No. 7 seed in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs.

Harasymiak guided the Black Bears to wins over five nationally ranked opponents in 2018 and the school’s third victory over a Football Bowl Subdivision opponent, a 31-28 victory at Western Kentucky.

Edwards scored 10 touchdowns, including two while becoming the first CAA player to return two kickoffs for a touchdown in a game. The junior returned 19 kickoffs for 539 yards, a 28.4-yard average that ranked second in the league and ninth in the country.

As a wideout, Edwards led the Black Bears in receptions (43), receiving yards (673) and receiving touchdowns (7). He was third in the CAA with 121.5 all-purpose yards per game and second with seven receiving touchdowns.

Whitaker, a junior, ranked third on the team and tied for fifth in the CAA with 7.5 sacks and fourth in tackles for loss (9.5) while racking up 39 total tackles and a forced fumble.

Sheffield claims his first spot on the first team. The senior registered a career-high 69 tackles along with 13.5 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks, six pass breakups, two fumble recoveries, two forced fumbles and an interception. He ranked second in the CAA in sacks and tied for fourth in TFLs.

Patterson, the CAA pass breakup leader (20), earns his first selection to the first-team. The junior led the CAA and was second nationally with 1.8 pass breakups per game. He tallied his first career interception with a takeaway against Villanova and notched a career-best six tackles in Maine’s win at Western Kentucky. He posted 33 tackles.

Belcher, a senior co-captain, is a first-time All-CAA choice. He set career bests with 36 receptions and 279 receiving yards to go with one rushing and one passing touchdown.

Dobson is a first-time honoree. The sophomore started all 11 games at right guard, helping guide the way for UMaine’s rushing offense which averaged 122.1 ypg.

Mitchell picks up his first All-CAA accolade after making 22 tackles, 7.0 for loss, with 3.5 sacks. The junior played a key part in the Black Bears’ rushing defense, which led the CAA at 73.4 ypg.

Stevens led the Black Bears in tackles (93), tackles for loss (14.0) and was second on the team with 8.0 sacks. The junior also tallied two fumble recoveries, a forced fumble and an interception. He ranked second in the CAA with 1.3 TFLs per game and third in sacks.

Nelson, who earns his second-consecutive CAA first-team selection as a specialist, started on all of Maine’s special team units for the second consecutive season. Nelson racked up 17 tackles, including 2.0 sacks, with two pass breakups and a forced fumble. His 17 total tackles marked a new single season-high.

Wright, a senior, received his third all-conference honor. He recorded 39 catches for 449 yards and five TDs, averaging 44.9 yards per game and 11.5 yards per catch. He ranked 11th in the CAA in both receptions per game (3.9) and touchdown receptions (5). Wright ranks sixth on Maine’s career receiving yardage list (2,143) and seventh with 160 receptions.

In his senior season, Levy earned his first all-conference recognition. He started all 11 games at right tackle, helping UMaine rush for 122.1 yards per game and ranked fifth in CAA sacks allowed.

 


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