HARRISONBURG — James Madison University tied a program record for most all-conference selections to the All-Colonial Athletic Association football team announced Tuesday.
JMU had 16 players chosen for the team. JMU redshirt senior defensive lineman Andrew Ankrah was named Defensive Player of the Year. JMU senior wide receiver John Miller was named Special Teams Player of the Year.
“When you have a season like we had then you get a lot of postseason honors,” JMU head football coach Mike Houston said after Tuesday’s practice. “I’ve had seasons where I’ve had nobody on the all-conference team. I like this a lot better.”
JMU had eight first-team selections, with four second-team selections and four third-team selections. JMU had nine of its 11 starting defensive players selected to the three defensive teams. JMU also had 16 all-conference selections in 2006.
Ankrah had 45 tackles with 7.5 sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss. He forced two fumbles and recovered two fumbles.
“It was surprising and I definitely feel blessed with this honor,” Ankrah said. “When you play on such a good team, you play on a defense like ours, you just don’t know what’s going to happen. I just want to say thank you to our coaches. Thank you to my teammates. All praise to God for keeping me healthy this season, and going out and doing what I do best.”
Miller had one punt return for a touchdown and led the conference in punt return average (11.7). Miller had three punt returns of 40 or more yards this season.
“It means a lot. It means a lot to our team, to our coaches and to all the guys out there blocking for me on punt return,” Miller said. “I give this award to them, because without them I wouldn’t be able to do what I can do back there.”
JMU senior offensive lineman Aaron Stinnie was selected as a first-team All-CAA selection.
Defensive lineman Simeyon Robinson, linebacker Kyre Hawkins, and cornerbacks Rashad Robinson and Jimmy Moreland and safety Raven Greene all join Ankrah on the first-team defense.
The Dukes are ranked No. 1 in Football Championship Subdivision in scoring defense and total defense.
Houston said it’s been quite a turnaround for the defense over the last two years.
“When we took over two years ago I think we were ranked 90th in the country in total defense and it was an embarrassment,” the second-year coach said. “To see what they’ve done, with how hard they’ve worked over the last two years, to turn into a unit that is the top unit in the country. It’s just really a credit to them, a credit to the coaches and just the commitment to each other and the hard work that they put in.”
JMU senior quarterback Bryan Schor was a second-team All-CAA selection. Sophomore offensive lineman Jahee Jackson was also a second-team All-CAA selection.
Schor was also the recipient of the prestigious Chuck Boone Leadership Award, an honor that embodies the highest standards of integrity, sportsmanship, teamwork and leadership in academics and athletics.
JMU redshirt senior safety Jordan Brown was a second-team All-CAA selection as was true freshman punter Harry O’Kelly.
JMU junior running back Trai Sharp was named to the All-CAA third team, as was redshirt senior wide receiver Terrence Alls, redshirt junior defensive lineman Darrious Carter and senior linebacker Brandon Hereford.
The Dukes are 11-0 and are the top seed in the FCS playoffs. They have a bye this week, and will host either Stony Brook (9-2) or Lehigh (6-5) at 2 p.m. on Dec. 2 in the second round of the playoffs.
Houston said that the awards are a reflection of how strong the team has been all season.
“I told the players (before practice) that even though the all-conference selection is individual recognition, it’s a team achievement,” Houston said. “Because without the performance of our defensive line, our secondary doesn’t make the plays they made and vice-versa. Same thing with the receivers and Bryan (Schor) or Trai (Sharp) and the offensive line. It’s a team achievement.”