MEDFORD - Nine Tufts University Football players earned a total of 12 honors as the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) released its 2016 All-Conference awards today.
For the second straight year, Jumbo senior running back Chance Brady was selected by the league's head coaches as the Offensive Player of the Year. Freshman linebacker Greg Holt was picked as the conference's Rookie of the Year.
Joining Brady and Holt on the All-NESCAC first team were senior center Jack Price, junior defensive tackle Doug Harrison, sophomore cornerback Tim Preston and senior punter Willie Holmquist.
Holmquist was also on the second team at place kicker. Other Jumbos receiving All-Conference second team nods were senior offensive tackle T.J. Muzzonigro, senior tight end Nik Dean and junior defensive tackle Micah Adickes.
Brady, Holmquist and Adickes earned repeat honors. In addition to his second straight Offensive Player of the Year award, Brady was also on the first team last season. Holmquist was NESCAC's first team place kicker in 2015. Adickes is on the second team defense for the second year in a row. Price, Harrison, Holt, Preston, Muzzonigro and Dean are all first-time honorees.
Brady had one of the best rushing seasons in NESCAC history. He carried 202 times for 1,099 yards and 17 touchdowns on the ground. He also recorded two touchdown receptions for a total of 19 TDs. His 17 rushing scores and 114 total points were both NESCAC records, replacing the marks of 16 and 98 set by Fred Storz from Williams in 1998. Brady was a two-time NESCAC Player of the Week who had 185 yards rushing and scored five touchdowns at Middlebury on November 12 and went for 165 yards on the ground with four TDs versus Williams on October 22.
Holt led the conference in tackles with 98 stops, including six tackles for losses. Five times he recorded double-figures in tackles including a season-high 20 versus Bates on October 1. He had a three-game series of 16 tackles versus Trinity, 15 against Williams and 15 at Amherst in the middle of the year. Holt is the only freshman on the All-NESCAC first team this fall and is Tufts' first Rookie of the Year since Donnie Simmons in 2008.
With size and athleticism which made him very disruptive in both the run and pass games, Harrison helped open up the opportunities which led to Holt leading the league in tackles. He had 24 stops himself including 2.5 sacks (15 yards) and 4.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage. Harrison also forced and recovered a fumble for the Jumbos.
Preston continued to be a ball hawk in the Jumbo secondary. After intercepting six passes in seven games to lead the conference last year, Preston had five more this fall to top the NESCAC again. He picked off passes in consecutive games against Bowdoin, Trinity, Williams, Amherst and Colby, capped by a 99-yard return for a touchdown versus the Mules. He was also in on 28 tackles and made six pass break-ups.
Price was the anchor of the Jumbo offensive line at center during a season in which Tufts averaged 31.5 points and 374 yards per game. Graded as the most efficient lineman on the team, his physical presence helped set the tone for the Jumbo running game that featured the league's top back and a NESCAC-best average of 239.3 rushing yards per game.
Holmquist led the NESCAC in punting with an average of 38.5 yards per game. His 15 kicks inside the 20 were second in the league and in five games he averaged better than 41 yards per punt. His 52 points as a place kicker were second at the position and sixth overall in NESCAC. He was good on eight of 11 field goal attempts, including a 48-yarder versus Bates that was the longest in NESCAC since 2008 at the time.
Muzzonigro stepped into a starting role at right tackle following an injury to opening-day starter Josh Thibeault and played every snap the rest of the way. A tough run blocker and intelligent player, he like Price was at the heart of a Jumbo offense that topped 40 points three times and averaged 37.2 points per game over the last six weeks of the season.
While also a threat in the passing game who caught two touchdowns this season, Dean's work blocking for the powerful Jumbo run game is what most earned him the All-League honor. He had two catches for 89 yards including a 62-yard touchdown at Trinity. His blocking helped Tufts rush for more than 250 yards in a game five times including 347 against Colby on November 5 and 346 at Middlebury on November 12.
Adickes' five sacks led Tufts and put him fifth in the league as his athleticism makes him one of the better interior pass rushers in NESCAC. He recorded 2.5 sacks and 10 total tackles when Tufts defeated Amherst for the first time since 2007. He also had a hand in 1.5 sacks for 16 yards in losses in the team's first win at Middlebury since 1998. For the season Adickes finished with 32 total tackles.
With six first-team awards, Tufts tied for second most in the league. Tufts' nine players who received honors are the program's most since nine Jumbos were also recognized in 2008.