South Carolina State head coach Buddy Pough and Bowie State head coach Damon Wilson were both voted BOXTOROW Co-Coaches of the Year as the BoxToRow.com annual superlative awards across HBCU football were announced on Monday.
Pough, who was earlier named the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Coach of the Year, led the Bulldogs to the biggest turnaround of the season in the MEAC, after the Bulldogs finished 2018 with a 5-6 overall record and a 4-3 mark in conference play. The 2019 season saw the Bulldogs finish 8-3 overall and 6-2 in MEAC play. Pough - in his 18th season at the helm - led SC State to its 17th MEAC championship overall (shared this year with 6-2 North Carolina A&T) and the seventh title in his tenure.
Pough also surpassed Willie Jeffries as the all-time winningest coach in SC State football program history, moving to 133-74 in his time on the Bulldogs' sideline. This is the first time in the 13-year history of BoxToRow voting that Pough has been named Coach of the Year.
Meanwhile, Bowie State went 11-0 during the regular season and through winning a second consecutive CIAA Championship under Co-Coach of the Year Wilson's leadership, in his 11th season as head coach, before the BSU Bulldogs lost to Carson-Newman in NCAA Division II playoffs.
Florida A&M quarterback Ryan Stanley was selected BOXTOROW Offensive Player of the Year. The redshirt senior from Pembroke Pines, Fla. led Florida A&M to a 9-2 record, the best in the MEAC. Stanley leads the MEAC in passing yards per game (256.6), is second in the MEAC in completion percentage (60.1), and his 23 touchdown passes are tied for the league in the MEAC. He also leads the MEAC in pass efficiency (146.6). Stanley threw for 2,566 yards and just seven interceptions and threw for 300 or more yards in a game three times, including a game of more than 400 yards. He was also named MEAC Offensive Player of the Year and this year he became FAMU’s career leader in completions, attempts, passing yards, and touchdowns.
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North Carolina Central defensive lineman Darius Royster was named BOXTOROW Willie Davis Defensive Player of the Year. Royster, a redshirt-senior from Chesapeake, Va., was also named MEAC Defensive Player of the Year and is tied for the lead in the MEAC in sacks (9) and tackles for loss (16) and leads the league in forced fumbles (3). Royster also registered 75 tackles (44 solo).
Alabama A&M wide receiver Abdul-Fatai Ibrahim, Alabama A&M was named BOXTOROW Rookie of the Year. Ibrahim finished second in the SWAC in receptions (59) and receiving yards per game (91.3). His 1,004 yards receiving was third in the SWAC and his 11 receiving touchdowns was fourth. Ibrahim averaged 17.0 yards per reception. He was named SWAC Freshman of the Year.
North Carolina A&T kicker Noel Ruiz was voted the BOXTOROW Special Teams Player of the Year. Ruiz leads NCAA Division I FCS in field goals made per game (1.9) and has connected on 21-of-25 field goals. He is fifth in FCS in field goal percentage (.840) and second in the MEAC in scoring (102 points).
Alcorn State quarterback Felix Harper was named Impact Player of the Year, an award given by BOXTOROW. Harper took over the reigns for the Braves in the third game of the season and led the Braves to their second straight SWAC championship. Harper is completing 63 percent of his passes, second in the SWAC and is also second in the SWAC in touchdown passes (29) and passing yards (2,387). His 169.2 pass efficiency leads the SWAC and is fifth in FCS. He has thrown for 300 or more yards in a game twice and has just five interceptions on the season. He was also named SWAC Offensive Player of the Year.
Royster, Harper, and Ruiz were also selected to the BOXTOROW All-America Team.
The voters of the BOXTOROW Superlative Awards are comprised of media members from around the country who cover HBCU football.