“Neat day to kind of celebrate spring, give awards to the guys that did well,” FAU coach Lane Kiffin said. “Winning team gets the better food, then also get their championship rings.”
By virtue of their 20-14 victory, members of the Red team – mostly the first-team defense and the second team offense – dined on steak and sides. The White team was relegated to what strength coach Wilson Love referred to as “the beanie weenies.” – hot dogs and baked beans.
The meal’s satisfied, but the rings were cause for celebration.
“Look at that thing bling,” said wide receiver Willie Wright, holding the ring up in the sunlight. “That thing’s shining right here. We earned this right here.”
The silver rings studded with crystals resembling diamonds contained the FAU logo in the middle with the words “2017 C-USA” above the logo and “Champions” below it.
Each ring also featured the player’s name and number on one side and the Boca Raton Bowl logo with the Owls’ 11-3 record beneath.
“It’s really exciting,” linebacker Al-Shaair said. “It’s crazy. To actually have it, I’ve got my own ring for the first time. It’s really a blessing.”
Hunter Snyder isn’t satisfied with FAU football’s first conference championship ring in 10 years.
“We’re going to get some more, too,” Snyder said. “We’re not stopping here. We just got a little taste with this one. Next year we’re going to come to get some more, definitely.”
Al-Shaair and Snyder are part of a defense that returns 10 starters.
That defense pressured quarterbacks and denied rushing lanes throughout the spring.
“Kind of the theme all camp,” Kiffin said. “We struggled versus that first defense on offense. That’s a good and a bad thing.”
During the lunch FAU also announced its post-spring awards.
Offensive coordinator Charlie Weis named Guards B.J. Etienne and Nick Weber, running backs Gerald Hearns and Kerrith White, wide receiver Dante Cousart and tight end Jaocb Wilson the most improved offensive players.
On the defensive side, Tony Pecoraro selected defensive ends Tim Bonner and Ernest Bagner, and linebackers Khantrell Burden and Andrew Soroh among his most improved.
Running backs coach Kevin Smith, head coach of the Red team, named the second string offensive line – comprised of Ean Biancardi, Jake Jones, Jared Nourse, Nick Weber and Robert Hawkins – the spring game MVP.
Weis, coach of the White team, named all defensive players as his game MVPs – defensive end Ernest Bagner, defensive tackle Steven Leggett and nickel Korel Smith.
Each position coach named their unit’s spring MVP:
QB – De’Andre Johnson and Chris Robison
OL – Brandon Walton and Reggie Bain
TE – Harrison Bryant
RB – Gerald Hearns
WR – Willie Wright
DL – Legget Snyder
LB – Rashad Smith
DB – Chris Tooley
The Owls also honored their top walk-ons. Offensively, they were Hearns, Cousart and Weber. Defensively linebacker Hosea Barnwell and defensive linemen Daikwon Fuse stood out.