Offensive Player of the Year: Gunner Kiel
In his first year as a college quarterback, UC sophomore star #11 Gunner Kiel shredded defenses. Gunner made the UC offense go. In his first year he racked up a season that ranks as 2nd all-time in passing TDs and 5th all-time is passing yards. He led the AAC in TDs and passer rating. He also helped lead the Cats to a 9-3 (7-1 AAC) record and an AAC conference championship.
Let’s look at the numbers:
Kiel was an all-AAC honorable mention behind Shane Carden despite the Cats win over ECU. Carden, a senior, threw for two fewer TDs on the year and had a lower passer efficiency rating. Cardin also essentially played two more games than Kiel when factoring in the time missed for bruised ribs and severe cramp injuries. Good thing Gunner still has two full seasons to take over the AAC awards list!
Defensive Player of the Year: Jeff Luc
The first-team all-AAC senior linebacker led the Bearcats with 121 tackles on the season, including 9.5 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, 6 forced fumbles, 4 pass break ups and 4 QB hurries. He is ranked 3rd in the AAC in tackles. His 6 forced fumbles and 4 fumble recoveries are tied for 1st in the country. He is deserving of the #1 on his jersey, and will definitely be missed next year.
Special Teams Player of the Year: Andrew Gantz
True freshman and golden toe Andrew Gantz led the Cats in scoring with 95 points, going 15-of-18 on field goals and 50-of-52 on extra points, including a game winning 47-yard kick against ECU. Over a six-game span he made 12-consecutive field goals, tying for the second-longest streak in school history.
Gantz was named AAC Player of the Week on three separate occasions. He led the AAC in field goal percentage, and was 2nd in scoring. We are looking forward to three more years of automatic kicks.
By Andy Smith