BOCA RATON – As Christmas week rolls on, this seems like a good time to give the biggest gift of all. Every award we’ve presented thus far has led up to the FAU football MVP awards. It won’t surprise many that some of the FAU players who’ve won either the Newcomer of the Year, Most Improved Player or Unsung Hero awards received consideration for the MVP award. It also shouldn’t be much of a surprise who we chose as the FAU football MVPs.
OFFENSIVE MVP: Devin Singletary.
No FAU football player has ever produced the kind of season FAU running back Devin Singletary delivered for the Owls in 2017. He leads the nation in rushing touchdowns with 32 and overall touchdowns with 33, and unless something biblical happens, he’ll end the season atop both categories. With 1,920 rushing yards, Singletary will finish the season no worse than fourth nationally. He’s scored more rushing touchdowns than 108 teams.
Along the way Singletary pounded his name into the FAU record books. Midway through his sophomore season Singletary passed Alfred Morris as the Owls’ career touchdowns leader. Those 32 this season, in fact, are more than Morris, currently a Dallas Cowboy totaled in his entire career. Should he remain healthy. Singletary should easily pass Morris next season to become the Owls’ all-time leading rusher.
And he did all that despite receiving only 23 carries for 94 yards in the season’s first two games.
Conference USA coaches named Singletary their MVP and he became the first Owl ever named to the AP All-American team, earning third-team honors. Singletary’s phenomenal season will live in FAU lore for a long time to come.
It’s worth noting that Singletary had yet to eclipse 200 total rushing yards and scored only two touchdowns before Jason Driskel assumed the starting quarterback role in the season’s fourth game. In most seasons, leading a team to 10 consecutive wins, a conference title and a bowl victory while posting a 15:4 touchdown-to-interception ratio would have won the quarterback this award. Perhaps Driskel’s performance will be better appreciated in the months and years to come.
DEFENSIVE MVP: Azeez Al-Shaair
Safety Jalen Young deserves to be in this conversation. After all, he’s tied for the lead nationally in interceptions. With 70 tackles to go with those seven interceptions, there’s an argument to be made that, at least statistically, Young had a better season than linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair.
But judging Al-Shaair’s season solely by a statistical comparison is like purchasing an album based on the cover art – as cool as the cover is, it’s what’s on the inside that matters.
Al-Shaair is the heart of sole of a defense that showed immense improvement from 2016. The Owls flew to the ball, tackled well and played with intensity. No one exemplified the improvement more than Al-Shaair, and nowhere was what he brought to the field more apparent than in FAU’s 34-31 loss to Buffalo – a game the Owls believe they would have won had Al-Shaair not missed it because of injury.
That’s not to say Al-Shaair’s statistics don’t impress. His 147 tackles led Conference USA and were the second most in program history. Late in the season Al-shaair, a junior, passed Frantz Joseph to become the leading tackler in FAU history. He’s currently third nationally in tackles.
Here’s a look into Al-Shaair’s mindset following the MTSU game – one week after the loss to Buffalo.
On the sheer amount of tackles alone Al-Shaair deserved consideration for this award. Add what he brings on the sideline and in the locker room and Al-Shaair is the clear choice.