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Rocco and Jennings Top Conference Picks Again

November 25, 2008  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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(From left to right): Rashad Jennings, head coach Danny Rocco, Brock Smith and Nick Hursky were just a few of the Flames who were honored when the Big South released its annual all-conference team today.

(From left to right): Rashad Jennings, head coach Danny Rocco, Brock Smith and Nick Hursky were just a few of the Flames who were honored when the Big South released its annual all-conference team today.

For the second year in a row, Liberty's Danny Rocco and Rashad Jennings spotlighted Flames dominated Big South all-conference teams, taking home two of the league's highest end of the year honors.

After capturing its first Big South in 2007 with a 4-0 league record, Liberty paced all member institutions with a Big South record 22 all-conference selections, including 13 on the first-team listing.

The Flames once again went unbeaten in 2008, posting a 5-0 Big South record en route to becoming the third team in league history to claim consecutive conference titles. Liberty finished this year with the league's most all-conference honoree at 16, besting Gardner-Webb by four selections.

Liberty, who is in the midst of an 11-game Big South winning streak, beat its league foes by nearly two touchdowns per match-up, outscoring its opponents in Big South games by an average of 22.4 points per game (186 points scored/37.2 average to 74 points allowed/14.8 average).

For the third straight year, Rocco has been tabbed Big South Coach of the Year, becoming the first head coach in league history to take home the honor three times and in three successive years.

Jennings was also a repeat award winner as Big South Offensive Player of the Year, becoming the first player in conference history to do so in consecutive seasons. Since the league started to sponsor football as a championship sport, Liberty has taken home the conference's top offensive player award three out of seven years (including Dre Barnes in 2003).

Jennings seemingly continued to rewrite both Liberty's and the Big South's record books each time he took to the field this season. The senior rushed for a program and league best 1,500 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2008, while setting a new scoring record with 114 points.
The running back, who is up for consideration for this year's Walter Payton Award, ended the regular
season ranked No. 5 nationally in rushing yards per game (136.36), tied for fifth in scoring (10.36 points per game) and No. 16 in all-purpose yards (153.64 per game).

Jennings was one of nine first-team all-conference honorees for Liberty. Offensively, the running back was joined by starting quarterback Brock Smith for the second straight year on the first team.
The backfield tandem was also joined by offensive linemen Mike Godsil and Britt Stone, two second-team honorees in 2007, along with wide receiver Dominic Bolden.

Defensively, Nick Hursky also moved up from second-team to first-team this year, and the linebacker was joined on the first-team list by defensive back Kent Hicks, for his first all-conference selection.

Reigning All-Americans Dan Pope and Bolden took home Big South first-team all-conference special teams honors. Pope was tabbed the conference's best long snapper for the second straight year, while Bolden was named the league's top punt returner after returning two of his 17 returns for a touchdown.

The Flames also dominated the second team listing, taking home a league-best seven accolades. Jonathan Crawford and Corey Rasberry captured their first career all-conference honors, doing so at wide receiver and tight end, respectively.

Defensive linemen Colin Dugan and Kevin Richard were tabbed second-team honorees, marking Dugan's second straight selection and Richard's first.

The Flames also had their defensive backfield pair of Ryan Greiser and Patrick Calvary snatch second-team honorees. Greiser, who was also named to the Big South all-academic team for the third-straight year, is also a three-time second-team all-conference selection, while the honor for Calvary was his first.

Bolden rounded out Liberty's second-team all-conference honorees by being named the league's second-best kickoff returner. He finished his career as the league's all-time leader in career kickoff return yardage (1,409) and returns for a touchdown (3).

The remaining three major awards were evenly dispersed among three different schools. Gardner-Webb's Jeffrey Williams was named Defensive Player of the Year, marking the sixth time in seven years a Bulldog has won the award. The linebacker led the league with 119 stops, averaging 10.8 tackles per game.

Five-time Big South Freshman of the Week Edwin Gowins took home the Big South Freshman of the Year honors. The rookie finished just behind Jennings by rushing for 1,310 yards and 11 scores during his first collegiate season at Stony Brook.

VMI's Jacob Rochester was named the Big South's Scholar-Athlete of the Year, as the league's Sports Information Directors gave the linebacker the honor. The senior finished his final year with the Keydets with 52 tackles, while the economics and business major added 4.0 sacks and two fumble recoveries.

2008 Big South Football All-Conference Teams

First-Team All-Conference
Offense
QB - Brock Smith, Sr., Liberty
RB - Rashad Jennings, Sr., Liberty
RB - Edwin Gowins, Fr., Stony Brook
WR - Dobson Collins, Sr., Gardner-Webb
WR - Dominic Bolden, Sr., Liberty
WR - Gerald Stevenson, So., Charleston Southern
TE - Josh Miller, So., Gardner-Webb
OL - Mike Godsil, Sr., Liberty
OL - Demario Deese, Sr., Gardner-Webb
OL - Britt Leggett, R-Sr., Coastal Carolina
OL - Steve Council, Sr., Stony Brook
OL - Britt Stone, R-Sr., Liberty

Defense
DL - Jake Killeen, R-Sr., Charleston Southern
DL - James Harris, Sr., Stony Brook
DL - Phillip Oboh, Jr., Coastal Carolina
DL - Adam McKinney, Sr., Presbyterian
LB - Jeffrey Williams, So., Gardner-Webb
LB - Nick Hursky, Sr., Liberty
LB - Antwan Thomas, Sr., Presbyterian
LB - D.J. Rice, Sr., Coastal Carolina
DB - Daniel Cooke, Sr., Gardner-Webb
DB - Philip Ashley, Jr., Charleston Southern
DB - Kent Hicks, R-Sr., Liberty
DB - Cedric McGowan, Jr., Gardner-Webb

Special Teams
PK - Ryan Gates, Fr., Gardner-Webb
P - Ben Erdman, So., Coastal Carolina
LS - Dan Pope, R-Sr., Liberty
KR - Gerald Stevenson, So., Charleston Southern
PR - Dominic Bolden, Sr., Liberty

Second-Team All-Conference
Offense

QB - Tim Maypray, Jr., VMI
RB - Conte Cuttino, Jr., Stony Brook
RB - Howard Abegesah, Jr., VMI
WR - Jonathan Crawford, R-Sr., Liberty
WR - James Perry III, R-Fr., Gardner-Webb
WR - Brandon Clark, Sr., Presbyterian
TE - Corey Rasberry, R-Sr., Liberty
OL - Lawrence Lovell, Jr., Stony Brook
OL - Alex Bragg, R-Sr., Charleston Southern
OL - George Handler, R-Jr., VMI
OL - James Boatright, So., VMI
OL - Corey O'Daniel, So., Gardner-Webb

Defense
DL - Justin Witzmann, R-Sr., Charleston Southern
DL - Kevin Richard, R-Sr., Liberty
DL - Jordan Woods, Fr., Gardner-Webb
DL - Colin Dugan, Sr., Liberty
LB - Marty Patterson, Soph., Gardner-Webb
LB - Andrew McKain, R-Jr., Charleston Southern
LB - Tyler Santucci, Jr., Stony Brook
LB - A.J. Gross, R-Fr., VMI
DB - Ryan Greiser, Sr., Liberty
DB - Anthony McKnight, Sr., Presbyterian
DB - Patrick Calvary, Sr., Liberty
DB - Chris Richards, Jr., Stony Brook

Special Teams
PK - John Paglia, So., Charleston Southern
P - Bryson Summers, Fr., Presbyterian
LS - Travis Ludden, Sr., VMI
KR - Dominic Bolden, Sr., Liberty
PR - Dobson Collins, Sr., Gardner-Webb

Academic All-Conference Team
Justin Witzmann, R-Sr., DL, Charleston Southern
Derrick Frasier, So., LB, Coastal Carolina
Daniel Cooke, Sr., DB, Gardner-Webb
Ryan Greiser, Sr., DB, Liberty
Antwan Thomas, Sr., LB, Presbyterian
Jeff Santos, Jr., OL, Stony Brook
Jacob Rochester, Sr., LB, VMI

Offensive Player of the Year
Rashad Jennings, Sr., RB, Liberty

Defensive Player of the Year
Jeffrey Williams, So., LB, Gardner-Webb

Freshman of the Year
Edwin Gowins, RB, Stony Brook

Coach of the Year
Danny Rocco, Liberty

Scholar-Athlete of the Year
Jacob Rochester, Sr., LB, VMI

Updated Bios for Liberty's Big South All-Conference Award Winners (in alphabetical order)

WR - Dominic Bolden, Sr.
2008 Big South first-team all-conference honoree … 2007 Big South second-team all-conference selection … had the second most prolific receiving season in both program and Big South Conference history with a career-best receiving yards (1,056)… ended the regular season ranked No. 18 nationally in receiving yards per game (88.0) … fell one receiving touchdown short of tying Liberty's single season record for receiving touchdowns (9) … the figure was sixth best in league history … established a new Big South record for yards per reception (18.9) … posted four 100-yard games, including three in succession … average yards per game ranks third best in conference history … ended the regular season ranked No. 19 nationally in average all-purpose yards per game (151.2) with a season total, which sets a new program record and ranks second best in Big South history … also ranked No. 72 nationally in scoring average (6.50).

RS – Dominic Bolden, Sr.
2008 Big South first-team all-conference selection as a kickoff returner … 2008 Big South second-team all-conference selection as a punt returner … 2008 Preseason All-America third-team return specialist nominee by College Sporting News … 2007 Big South second-team kickoff return selection … started all 12 games at kickoff returner … shared kickoff duties with Jonathan Crawford … helped the Flames rank No. 23 nationally in kickoff return yards … ended his career as the Big South's leader with 1,409 career kickoff return yards and three kickoff returns for a touchdown ... ranks fourth in Big South history with 49 career kickoff returns … led the Big South and ranked No. 5 nationally in average yards per punt return (18.1) … was one of eight players nationally to return two punts for a touchdown in 2008 … the pair of scores gave him five special teams returns for a touchdown for his career at Liberty … returned a punt 74 yards against No. 12 Elon to help the Flames close out the year … also returned a punt 72 yards against Glenville State … as a team, Liberty finished the year ranked No. 12 nationally in punt return average.

DB – Patrick Calvary, Sr.
2008 Big South second-team all-conference selection … 2007 Big South first-team all-conference honoree … Big South preseason all-conference selection … 2007 VaSID second-team all-state member … started all 11 games in 2008, missing the VMI game due to an injury … the missed game snapped a string of 40-consecutive career starts … was fifth on the squad among defensive backs in solo tackles (16) … tied for fifth on the team in pass break-ups (3) … finishes his career ranked second in program history and third in Big South history with 23 pass breaks-up … picked off two passes on the year, giving him eight for his career … finishes his career with 114 career interception return yards, which ranks fifth best in league history.

WR – Jonathan Crawford, Sr.
2008 Big South second-team all-conference selection … had a career year, as he came into the season having 11 career receptions for 134 yards and no touchdowns … ranked fifth in the Big South in receiving yards per game (59.4) and eighth in receptions per contest (3.9) … tallied 60 or more receiving yards against all but one Big South foe … posted back-to-back 100-yard receiving games, as he had 106 against Lafayette, followed by a career-best 124 yards and two touchdowns against Charleston Southern … ranks No. 73 nationally in receiving yards per game … gave Liberty three 1,000-plus yard all-purpose yardage players on the year with a new career high … ranked second in the Big South and No. 32 nationally in kickoff return yardage.

DL – Colin Dugan, Sr.
Two-time Big South second-team all-conference selections (2007 and 2008) … started all 12 games at nose guard … defensive team captain … posted his second highest career tackle total (38) … recorded five or more tackles in five games … notched a season-high seven tackles against Lafayette … posted his second best game of the year at Coastal Carolina with six stops and a sack for a loss of seven yards … helped the Flames rank No. 13 in scoring defense (18.67 point per game), posting two shutouts and holding three opponents without a touchdown … named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District 3 first team.

OL – Mike Godsil, Sr.
2008 Big South first-team all-conference selection … 2007 Big South second-team all-conference honoree … started every game of his career at center (45), including all 12 in 2008 … helped the Flames rush for 2,562 yards, the second highest rushing mark in program history and the fourth best in league history … Liberty's 29 rushing touchdowns also rank as the fourth most in Big South history … helped the Flames offense rank No. 9 in total offense (446.67 yards per game), No. 12 in rushing offense (213.50 yards per game), No. 18 in scoring offense (33.67 points per game) and No. 37 in passing offense (233.17) … helped Liberty protect its quarterbacks at a record-setting pace, ranking No. 4 nationally in fewest sacks allowed (0.67 per game/8 total) … also helped the Flames rank No. 13 in first down offense, No. 4 in fewest tackles for a loss allowed and rank No. 2 in third-down conversion rate (51.0) … graded out a team-best 92 percent … led the squad with 193 knockdowns … allowed only one sack in 762 total plays.

DB – Ryan Greiser, Sr.
Three-time Big South second-team all-conference selection (2006, 2007 and 2008) … defensive team captain … ranked third on the team in total tackles (67) and solo stops (37) … tied for second on the team in pass break-ups (5) … started 11 games, but missed the Charleston Southern game due to an injury … ranked No. 11 overall and third among defensive backs in total tackles in the Big South … finished the season with a career high in total tackles and solo stops … fell one tackle off a loss short of tying a career high … finished seven out of 11 games with six or more tackles, including a pair of 10-tackle performances against No. 23 Youngstown State and VMI … was one eight players to intercept a pass on the year, returning one 29 yards against North Greenville in the season opener .. finished his career just two tackles shy of hitting the 200 mark, as he tallied 198 stops in three years as a defensive player … excellent student in the classroom as well … three-time member of the Big South all-academic team and Big South Presidential Honor Roll … named to the ESPN the Magazine CoSIDA Academic All-American District 3 team.

DB – Kent Hicks, Sr.
2008 Big South first-team all-conference honoree … started all 12 games for the Flames … led the team and ranked second in the Big South with a career high in interceptions (3) … his interception total was tied for the second most by a Flame over the last 11 seasons … bested last year's total by one tackle to rank eighth on the squad in total tackles (44) … ranks fourth in the Big South in passes defended (10) … finished seven out of 12 games with four or more tackles, including the final four of the year … tied a career high with five solo stops against Presbyterian … finished the year tied for the team lead in pass break-ups … helped the Flames rank No. 13 in scoring defense (18.67 point per game), posting two shutouts and holding three opponents without a touchdown.

LB – Nick Hursky, Sr.
2008 Big South first-team all-conference selection … 2007 Big South second-team all-conference honoree … defensive team captain … Big South preseason all-conference selection … saw playing time in 11 games, starting 10 … missed the second game of the year due to an injury … finished the season with a new career high in total tackles (97), solo stops (46) and assisted tackles (51) … led the team in all three categories … matched his career total in tackles for a loss (12.5), as he came into the year with a combined 12.5 TFLs … finished the year with five double-digit tackle games, including the last three of the year, to give him 15 for his career … had a career-best nine solo stops during Liberty's victory over No. 23 Youngstown State … posted a season-best 15 stops against Gardner-Webb … ranks No. 42 nationally in tackles per game (8.82) … ranks third in the Big South in tackles per game and fourth in tackles for a loss.

RB – Rashad Jennings, Sr.
Two-time Big South Offensive Player of the Year (2007 and 2008) … A Walter Payton Award candidate, an honor given annually to the top FCS player in the nation … nominated for the Dudley Award, the yearly honor bestowed upon the top Division I football player in the state of Virginia … three-time Big South first-team all-conference selection (2006, 2007 and 2008) … 2007 VaSID all-state first-team all-state selection … had the most prolific rushing season in program and Big South history, setting single season records in rushing yards (1,500), rushing touchdowns (17), average rushing yards per game (136.4) and points scored (114) ... currently ranks No. 5 nationally in rushing and scoring and No. 16 in all-purpose yards (153.6) … rushed for 100 or more yards 10 times during the season, finishing his career with a program and Big South best 22 career 100-yard games … two-time Big South Offensive Player of the Week … rushed for a career-best 220 yards against No. 23 Youngstown State, helping him earn the Sports Network's National Offensive Player of the Week honor … in just three seasons, he established new program and Big South records with 3,633 career rushing yards … also rushed for 42 career touchdowns, marking a new Liberty program best and the second highest in league history.

LS – Dan Pope, Sr.
Two-time Big South first-team all-conference selection at long snapper (2007 and 2008) … three-year starter at long snapper … named a first-team All-American at long snapper by the College Sporting News in 2007 … has not had a bad snap in three seasons, on punts, short kicks and long kicks … excels both on the field and off, as he was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District 3 team.

TE – Corey Rasberry, Sr.
2008 Big South first-team all-conference … started all 12 games at tight end for the first time in his career … came into the year with two receptions for 27 yards and no touchdowns … finished the year with a career high in receptions (15), receiving yards (190) and averaging yards per reception (15.8) … used mainly as a blocker in the Flames' running game, which allowed Liberty to rush for 2,562 yards and 29 touchdowns … the rushing figure was the second highest in program history and ranked No. 12 nationally … had a career game against VMI, tallying 53 receiving yards and his first career touchdown … also returned a kickoff 17 yards against Presbyterian … stout member of the Flames special teams coverage units, recoding two solo stops on the season.

DL – Kevin Richard, Sr.
2008 Big South second-team all-conference … started all 12 games on the year, extending his streak to 24 consecutive starts … ranked fifth on the team in total tackles (57) and first among defensive linemen … ranked fourth in the Big South in tackles per game (4.8) by a defensive linemen … nearly doubled his previous career high, as he finished his freshman year with 31 stops … nearly matched his career total for tackles for a loss (5.0), as he entered the year with 6.0 tackles for a loss over three seasons of play … recorded four or more stops in nine out of 12 games … posted a career-best 11 stops against VMI …finished the year with eight tackles against No. 12 Elon, helping the Flames pick up their 10th victory of the year … led the team with 12 quarterback hurries … finished his career with 124 tackles … named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District 3 first team.

QB – Brock Smith, Sr.
Two-time Big South first-team all-conference selection (2007 and 2008) … completed a career year, marking new highs in completions (179), attempts (279), passing yards (2,620), completion percentage (64.4), rushing touchdowns (3) and total offensive yards (2,707) … passing yards were the third most in Big South history and sixth most in program history … for the second straight season threw for 19 touchdowns, which ranks sixth best in Big South and tied for third best in program history … established a new program record in passing efficiency (161.79), which ranks second best in the Big South record book … also posted the second-best completion percentage in conference history … threw for 200 or more yards in eight of 12 games, including the final six contests and against all but one Big South foe … had eight multiple touchdown games … became the third passer in program history and the third in league history to surpass the 7,000 yard mark (7,036) … ranks No. 7 nationally in passing efficiency and No. 37 in total offense.

OL – Britt Stone, Sr.
2008 Big South first-team all-conference selection … 2007 Big South second-team all-conference honoree … saw playing time in 10 games, staring seven … helped the Flames rush for 2,562 yards, the second highest rushing mark in program history and the fourth best in league history … Liberty's 29 rushing touchdowns also ranks as fourth most in Big South history … helped the Flames offense rank No. 9 in total offense (446.67 yards per game), No. 12 in rushing offense (213.50 yards per game), No. 18 in scoring offense (33.67 points per game) and No. 37 in passing offense (233.17) … helped Liberty protect its quarterbacks at a record-setting pace, ranking No. 4 nationally in fewest sacks allowed (0.67 per game/8 total) … also helped the Flames rank No. 13 in first down offense, No. 4 in fewest tackles for a loss allowed and rank No. 2 in third-down conversion rate (51.0) … graded out a 91 percent, the second highest mark on the team … committed a team-low six critical errors on 488 total plays … allowed only 0.5 sacks, while ranking fourth on the squad with 120 knockdowns.