BOCA RATON – Kerrith Whyte’s 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown did more than enter his name in the FAU record book as the first Owls’ returner to take a kickoff to the house, it also earned him Conference USA Special Teams Player of the Week honors.
It’s the fourth consecutive week an FAU player won one of the weekly awards. Owls’ running back Devin Singletary won the C-USA Offensive Player Of the Week award the two previous weeks. Prior to Singletary’s run, quarterback Jason Driskel brought the award to Boca Raton.
Whyte took the opening kickoff of the second half, broke three tackles in the middle of the field, then raced down the left sideline to the end zone. He returned two kickoffs for 128 yards and that one TD in FAU’s 48-23 victory over La. Tech.
That Whyte would become the first Owl ever to return a kick for a score isn’t all that surprising. His 995 returns yards in 2016 were the fourth most nationally.
This year, however, Whyte hasn’t experienced as much success.
The combination of fewer kickoffs to return, a different return scheme, and teams kicking away from him limited Whyte to 312 yards and a 19.5 yard per return average prior to Saturdays game.
On several occasions over the past couple weeks FAU coach Lane Kiffin spoke about his desire to jump-start the kick return game.
“First return in school history – good job by that unit,” Kiffin said.
FAU nominated Jason Driskel over Devin Singletary for the offensive award. Driskel played perhaps his best collegiate game, completing 14 of 17 passes for 221 yards and two touchdowns. Two of those incompletions were drops. The third was thrown away, Kiffin said.
Singletary delivered his eighth consecutive 100-yard game along with touchdowns No 20, 21 and 22 of the season.
ODU running back Ray Lawry rushed for 168 yards and two touchdowns in ODU’s upset of FIU to earn the Offensive award.
FAU faces FIU in the Shula Bowl XI on Saturday. The Owls can claim Conference USA’s East Division with a win and a spot in the Conference USA championship game, which FAU would host.
One media member covering each Conference USA school votes on the weekly award.