OWLACCESS.COM SUPERLATIVES: OFFENSIVE MVP | DEFENSIVE MVP | OFFENSIVE PLAY OF THE YEAR | DEFENSIVE PLAY OF THE YEAR | OFFENSIVE NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR | DEFENSIVE NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR | BIGGEST SURPRISE OFFENSIVELY | BIGGEST SURPRISE DEFENSIVELY | BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT OFFENSIVELY | BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT DEFENSIVELY
BOCA RATON – OwlAccess.com is concluding its 2016 by looking back at the key players and moments of this past football season. We split our votes three ways on the Owls’ Offensive Player of the Year. The vote figures to be much more in agreement for today’s Defensive Player of the Year award. Joining our Chuck King and Jake Elman in offering their superlatives are three colleagues from ESPN West Palm: FAU play-by-play man Ken LaVicka, analyst Kris Bartels and producer (and host of OwlTalk) Brian Rowitz.
Jake Elman (OwlAccess.com): For as bad as this FAU defense was, fans could at least take some pleasure that they were watching Trey Hendrickson, arguably the greatest player in program history, each Saturday. While Hendrickson had four fewer sacks in 2016 than he did in 2015, don’t let that fool you into thinking he had anything close to a bad year. With NFL scouts in attendance and the pressure on one of the nation’s worst defenses, the senior never threw in the towel, setting a career-high in total tackles with 50 and recording 15 tackles for loss. Hendrickson even put in some offensive work, blocking for some of Buddy Howell’s touchdown runs – including the record-setter against Old Dominion.
Chuck King (OwlAccess.com): This is the easiest of the awards. In 2016 defensive end Trey Hendrickson was the best FAU football player regardless of position. He once again led the Owls in sacks, recorded a career-high 50 tackles and is currently tied for the lead nationally in blocked kicks. He will be remembered as one of the best players ever to suit up for FAU, and when the Owls start retiring numbers the only question will be whether to retire the No. 19 Hendrickson started his career with, the No. 14 he wore as a sophomore, the No. 9 played with last season and the beginning of this year, or the No. 11 he switched to midway through this season when FAU started using him as a fullback in goal line situations. Maybe combine them and retire No. 48? (As a bonus, they would also be retiring the jersey of the greatest named player in FAU history – Yourhighness Morgan – a hard hitting linebacker.)
Brian Rowitz (ESPN West Palm): Trey Hendrickson made sure to prove that the end of last season was not a fluke. Despite the team’s struggles and him not getting a ton of help along the rest of the DL, Trey still disrupted opposing offenses all season long. Being able to take home C-USA Defensive Player of the Year honors despite the struggles of the D overall shows his worth. Look forward to seeing him play on Sundays next year.
Ken LaVicka (ESPN West Palm): Trey Hendrickson. Of course it’s him. Hendrickson is the greatest defensive player to ever strap on a Florida Atlantic helmet. His 9.5 sacks hardly told the story of his influence from his defensive end spot. One of the nation’s leaders in QB pressure, Hendrickson put up big numbers despite near-constant double teams. Add in his special teams prowess, and he may have had a better season than last year’s 13.5 sack barrage.
Kris Bartels (ESPN West Palm): Although Trey Hendickson would be the household name for Defensive MVP, it is Jalen Young who gets my vote this year as the real MVP. Jalen Young was the best defensive player on the field this season and his stats show it. He missed 6 quarters of football and still had 100 tackles with 67 of them being solo tackles. He seemed to always be in the right place at the right time. I know you might think that I am being a little bias as former defensive back, but the defense was noticeably different with Young off the field than it was with Hendrickson off the field. Another name to consider could be Azeez Al-Shaair, but the scores would have been way more lopsided without Young than without Al-Shaair. Defensive Back Pride!