(STATS) - Chattanooga quarterback Jacob Huesman was named Southern Conference offensive player of the year for an unprecedented third time, while The Citadel was also rewarded for its standout season Tuesday as Mitchell Jeter claimed defensive honors and Mike Houston was tabbed the league's best coach.
Huesman, who guided the seventh-ranked Mocs to a share of the conference title and the Southern's automatic berth into the FCS playoffs, threw for 1,745 yards and ran for 1,018 while becoming just the fourth player in FCS history to run and pass for 40 touchdowns. The senior - one of six players in SoCon history to win the award more than once - is third on the conference's all-time lists for total offense (11,650 yards), rushing yards by a quarterback (3,825) and TD passes (59).
Huesman, who is on the STATS Offensive Player of the Year Watch List, has 11 rushing touchdowns and seven TD passes heading into Chattanooga's first-round game versus Fordham.
"It's an honor to know the coaches think so highly of me," Huesman said. "The stats probably weren't mind blowing. I threw for seven touchdowns during the regular season, but I'd sacrifice those for wins any day of the week. ... We have a lot of unselfish players."
Jeter, a senior lineman, anchored a defense that racked up 23 sacks and 17 interceptions as the Bulldogs tied the Mocs for the Southern's best record and will play at Coastal Carolina in their first playoff appearance since 1992. Jeter - the first player in school history to be named the league's defensive player of the year - ranked second in the conference with eight sacks and third with 11 tackles for loss.
In his second season at The Citadel, Houston took a team picked for seventh by the coaches in the preseason to the cusp of an outright title, losing only to Chattanooga in its final conference game. The Bulldogs quickly recovered, upending FBS foe and intrastate rival South Carolina 23-22 last Saturday.
"Anytime there's a coach of the year award it's a staff achievement," Houston said. "The first thing I told them was, 'Even though there are some individual awards that were announced today, we really need to focus that this is a team achievement.'
"Mitchell would not have received that award that he received if we weren't so good everywhere else on defense."
The Citadel's triple-option offense ranks second in the FCS with 344.3 rushing yards per game and 37 touchdowns, and six players had at least 400 yards.
The Mocs placed seven players on the Southern's first team, including running back Derrick Craine, who ran for 1,002 yards and 12 TDs.
The Citadel was the only school to place two underclassmen on the first team, with sophomore defensive back Dee Delaney and freshman return specialist Quinlan Washington earning honors. Delaney - a mid-season addition to the STATS Defensive Player of the Year watch list - had a team-high five picks for the Bulldogs and Washington averaged 24.8 yards on 19 kickoff returns.
Samford wide receiver Kelvin McKnight took top freshman honors, finishing with 57 catches for 614 yards and two touchdowns. He was second on the team in receptions and also averaged 12.6 yards with a touchdown on 15 punt returns.
SOUTHERN CONFERENCE AWARDS=
Offensive Player of the Year: QB Jacob Huesman, Chattanooga
Defensive Player of the Year: DL Mitchell Jeter, The Citadel
Freshman of the Year: WR Kelvin McKnight, Samford
Coach of the Year: Mike Houston, The Citadel
SOUTHERN CONFERENCE FIRST TEAM=
QB Jacob Huesman, Chattanooga
RB Derrick Craine, Chattanooga
RB Detrez Newsome, Western Carolina
OL Sam Frye, The Citadel
OL Joe Turner, Furman
OL Armando Bonheur, Samford
OL Corey Levin, Chattanooga
OL Anton Wahrby, Wofford
TE Tyler Sexton, Western Carolina
WR Karel Hamilton, Samford
WR Aaron Sanders, VMI
DL Mitchell Jeter, The Citadel
DL Michael Pierce, Samford
DL Keionta Davis, Chattanooga
DL Caleb Hawkins, Western Carolina
LB Cory Magwood, Furman
LB Justin Cooper, Samford
LB Nakevion Leslie, Chattanooga
DB Dee Delaney, The Citadel
DB Jamerson Blount, Samford
DB James Bradberry, Samford
DB Cedric Nettles, Chattanooga
PK Henrique Ribeiro, Chattanooga
P Ian Berryman, Western Carolina
RS Quinlan Washington, The Citadel
RS Dane Forlines, VMI