Mathers, James Highlight All-Conference Team

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Conference USA announced its 2016 All-Conference football teams today, as selected by the league’s 13 head football coaches. Middle Tennessee had six all-conference selections and 12 more who made the honorable mention team.

The Blue Raiders put five players on the first team, highlighted by running back I’Tavius Mathers and wide receiver Richie James. Defensive back Jeremy Cutrer, place-kicker Canon Rooker and long snapper William Eads were also first team picks.

Mathers, a Murfreesboro native playing in his first and last season for the Raiders, became the first running back at MT to rush for 1,000 yards since Dwone Hicks in 2002. Mathers has a school record 1,504 yards and 16 touchdowns to go with 62 receptions for 589 yards and three more scores. He is just the seventh player in FBS history to have 1,500 yards rushing and 500 yards receiving in the same season.

James, a sophomore from Sarasota, FL, followed his freshman all-american campaign with an equally impressive season in 2016. He will enter the bowl game with 97 receptions for a school record 1,463 yards and 11 touchdowns. James owns at least one catch in 25 straight games.

Cutrer, a senior from New Orleans, enjoyed a career-best 57-tackle season to go with four TFLs, a team-high three interceptions, 10 pass breakups, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. He is on the Jim Thorpe Award and Senior Bowl Watch Lists.

Rooker, a junior from Richmond Hill, GA, served as the team’s primary place-kicker for the first time and turned in a year to remember. He scored an MT kicker record 107 points on the strength of 16 field goals and 59 extra points. Rooker, who has made 13 of his last 14 three-pointers, was a perfect 10-for-10 against Conference USA opponents.

Rooker’s battery mate Eads also earned first team honors after grabbing honorable mention recognition in 2015. Eads was perfect all season on his 136 opportunities.

The Blue Raiders’ lone second team member was offensive lineman Daniel Stephens.

Stephens, a senior from Duluth, GA, was a key member of a line that helped produce the first MT player to have 1,500 yards rushing and 500 yards receiving in the same season while also paving the way for the first game with a 400-yard passer, 200-yard receiver, and 100 yard rusher (vs WKU).

Middle Tennessee also had 12 players to earn C-USA Honorable Mention honors. The list includes QB Brent Stockstill, OL Chandler Brewer, OL Maurquice Shakir, OL Josh Chester, WR Dennis Andrews, WR Ty Lee, DE Chris Hale, DT Shaquille Huff, DT Jimal McBride, DE Steven Rhodes, LB Chris Melton, and LB DJ Sanders.

Under Stockstill, the Blue Raiders have now produced 36 first team honors and 27 second teamers.

2016 C-USA FOOTBALL ALL-CONFERENCE TEAMS

FIRST TEAM
OFFENSE
QB – Ryan Higgins, Sr., Louisiana Tech
RB – I’Tavius Mathers, Sr., Middle Tennessee
RB – Aaron Jones, Jr., UTEP
OL – Darrell Brown, Sr., Louisiana Tech
OL – Cameron Tom, Sr., Southern Miss
OL – Will Hernandez, Jr., UTEP
OL – Max Halpin, Sr., WKU
OL – Forrest Lamp, Sr., WKU
TE – Hayden Plinke, Sr., UTEP
WR – Carlos Henderson, Jr., Louisiana Tech
WR – Trent Taylor, Sr., Louisiana Tech
WR – Richie James, So., Middle Tennessee
WR – Taywan Taylor, Sr., WKU

DEFENSE
DL – Larry Ogunjobi, Sr., Charlotte
DL – Trey Hendrickson, Sr., Florida Atlantic
DL – Jaylon Ferguson, So., Louisiana Tech
DL – Dylan Bradley, Sr., Southern Miss
LB – TJ Ricks, Sr., Old Dominion
LB – Emmanuel Ellerbee, Jr., Rice
LB – Josiah Tauaefa, Fr., UTSA
LB – Keith Brown, Sr., WKU
DB – Xavier Woods, Sr., Louisiana Tech
DB – Jeremy Cutrer, Sr., Middle Tennessee
DB – D’Nerius Antoine, Sr., Southern Miss
DB – Brandon Leston, Sr., WKU

SPECIAL TEAMS
K – Canon Rooker, Jr., Middle Tennessee
P – Eric Keena, Sr., North Texas
KR – Carlos Henderson, Jr., Louisiana Tech
PR – Nacarius Fant, Jr., WKU
LS – William Eads, Sr., Middle Tennessee

SECOND TEAM
OFFENSE
QB – Mike White, Sr., WKU
RB – Ito Smith, Jr., Southern Miss
RB – Anthony Wales, Sr., WKU
OL – Joseph Brunson, Sr., Louisiana Tech
OL – O’Shea Dugas, So., Louisiana Tech
OL – Daniel Stephens, Sr., Middle Tennessee
OL – Troy Butler, Sr., Old Dominion
OL – Darrell Williams, Jr., Sr., WKU
TE – Jonnu Smith, Sr., FIU
WR – Zach Pascal, Sr., Old Dominion
WR – Nicolas Norris, Sr., WKU

DEFENSE
DL – Rashaad Coward, Sr., Old Dominion
DL – Oshane Ximines, So., Old Dominion
DL – Marcus Davenport, Jr., UTSA
DL – Omarius Bryant, Sr., WKU
LB – Anthony Wint, Jr., FIU
LB – Jordan Harris, Sr., Louisiana Tech
LB – Alvin Jones, Jr., UTEP
DB – Kishawn McClain, Jr., North Texas
DB – Brandon Addison, Jr., Old Dominion
DB – Michael Egwuagu, Sr., UTSA
DB – Joe Brown, Jr., WKU

SPECIAL TEAMS
K – Jonathan Barnes, Jr., Louisiana Tech
K – Parker Shaunfield, So., Southern Miss
P – Jake Collins, So., WKU
KR – Kylen Towner, Jr., WKU
PR – Trent Taylor, Sr., Louisiana Tech
LS – Darrell Travis, Sr., Louisiana Tech