University of Maine senior kickoff returner and record-setting wide receiver Earnest Edwards, whose 28.5-yard return average leads the Football Championship Subdivision, has been named the Colonial Athletic Association Special Teams Player of the Year.
Edwards also was chosen to the All-CAA first team as a wide receiver and kickoff returner. He was one of seven Black Bears recognized.
Defensive end Kayon Whitaker, cornerback Manny Patterson, offensive tackle Liam Dobson and linebacker Taji Lowe also were selected to the first team, while wide receiver Jaquan Blair and nose tackle Charles Mitchell were third-team picks.
All of them are seniors except Dobson, who is a junior.
Edwards was a first-team kickoff returner for the third straight year, while Whitaker and Patterson earned their second straight first-team honors. Dobson was a second-team selection a year ago, while Lowe, Blair and Mitchell garnered All-CAA honors for the first time.
Speedster Edwards returned two kickoffs for touchdowns in a 35-21 win over Colgate, a school-record 100-yarder and a 95-yarder. He is one of only seven FCS kickoff returners with two touchdown returns this season.
He concluded his career with school kickoff return records for touchdowns (6), yardage (2,311) and total returns (90). He also threw four TD passes and ran the ball 12 times for 146 yards (12.2 yards per carry).
Edwards is third among 124 FCS schools in all-purpose yards (169.36), 11th in receiving yards (99.7) and 15th in total receiving yards (1,097). He wound up with 49 receptions including 11 TD catches. He ranked second in the CAA in receiving yards per game and third in receiving yards.
The Rochester, New York, native concluded his UMaine career as the school’s all-time leader in receiving yards (2,641) on 143 receptions, which ranks 11th. He had five games with at least 100 receiving yards this season, and he registered a touchdown in 18 of his past 19 games.
Whitaker, from Washington, D.C., led the Black Bears in tackles for loss with 20 and sacks with nine, which was fourth in the CAA. His 20 tackles for loss is the most at UMaine in more than 20 years. He was third on the team in tackles with 65 and he also forced three fumbles and recovered two fumbles.
Whitaker concluded his career with 183 tackles and 45.5 tackles for a loss, including 27 sacks.
Patterson, a shutdown cornerback from Baltimore, was involved in 29 tackles in nine games before a knee injury ended his season. He had five pass break-ups. The preseason All-American capped his career with 54 pass breakups, three interceptions and 113 total tackles in 44 games.
Dobson, a native of Ottawa, Ontario, was the right tackle and was the team’s highest graded lineman. He averaged 12 knockdowns a game. He has started 26 consecutive games.
Lowe, from Stewartsville, New Jersey, led UMaine with a career-high 98 tackles, including 9.5 for loss. His 8.9 tackles per game ranked fourth in the CAA and he ended his career with 249 total tackles.
Blair, from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, led the Black Bears with 65 receptions and was second behind Edwards in receiving yards (839) and touchdowns (8). He was fourth in the CAA in receptions per game (5.9), eighth in yards per game (76.3) and 10th in total yards. He returned seven punts for 90 yards.
Blair finished his career ranked 13th on UMaine’s career list in catches (134) and receiving yards (134).
Mitchell, from Piscataway, New Jersey, had an impressive senior campaign in the middle of the defensive line. He registered 47 tackles, 6.0 for a loss, and started all 12 games.
Mitchell’s career statistics line reads 132 tackles, 25.5 TFL and nine sacks.