Norfolk, VA – After leading the Eagles to their third consecutive conference championship and the program’s first NCAA Division I-FCS national ranking, North Carolina Central University head coach Jerry Mack has been named the 2016 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Football Coach of the Year, the MEAC announced.
The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference also announced North Carolina Central University has a conference-high 17 selections to the All-MEAC Football Team,
NCCU (9-2, 8-0 MEAC) beat nationally-ranked North Carolina A&T 42-21 on Nov. 19 to capture the MEAC championship. After sharing the league crown in 2014 and 2015, the Eagles are the conference’s first outright champion since 2012. NCCU’s nine triumphs represent the most by the Eagles in the program’s Division I era.
The Eagles received their first national ranking as a Division I-FCS program on Nov. 7, when the FCS Coaches Poll announced NCCU at No. 25. By the end of the regular season, the Eagles jumped to No. 18.
Mack has achieved unprecedented success in his first three seasons as head football coach at NCCU.
Taking over a program that posted a losing record prior to his arrival in Durham, Mack has led the Eagles to three consecutive MEAC championships and an overall record of 24-10, including a 21-3 mark against conference opponents. His 24 victories are more than any NCCU football coach has ever collected in their first three seasons.
In addition to the MEAC Coach of the Year award, Mack has been named as one of 15 finalists for the Eddie Robinson Award as the FCS Coach of the Year.
Representing NCCU on the All-MEAC First Team are redshirt senior quarterback Malcolm Bell, senior wide receiver LaVontis Smith, redshirt senior center Carl Jones, senior offensive lineman Tarrance Wells, defensive lineman Frederick Henry-Ajudua and redshirt junior Mike Jones, who is recognized as both a defensive back and a return specialist.
All-MEAC Second Team honors go to redshirt sophomore running back Ramone Simpson, redshirt senior offensive lineman Jamaal Symmonett, redshirt junior defensive lineman Antonio Brown, redshirt junior linebacker Reggie Hunter, redshirt senior linebacker LeGrande Harley, sophomore defensive back Alden McClellon and redshirt senior placekicker Brandon McLaren.
Earning All-MEAC Third Team recognition are freshman tight end Maleek Henderson, redshirt freshman offensive lineman Nick Leverett and redshirt junior Ja’Quan Smith.
The All-MEAC Football Team is voted on by the conference’s head football coaches and sports information directors.
NCCU has topped the league in all-conference honorees in each of the last three seasons, with 13 in 2015 and 12 in 2014.
Bell (Richmond, Va.) topped the MEAC with an average of 248.6 yards of total offense per game. He threw for 2,191 yards and 16 touchdowns on 161-of-267 passing (60.3 percent), and was the league’s eighth-leading rusher with 544 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground.
LaVontis Smith (Maben, Miss.) ranked second in the league with 58.7 receiving yards per game, accounting for a team-high 40 receptions for 646 yards and five touchdowns.
Carl Jones (Nashville, Tenn.) was chosen as the top center in the MEAC for the second straight year after leading NCCU linemen with an average grade of 91 percent on blocking assignments, while amassing a team-best 65 pancake blocks and allowing only one sack in 707 snaps during his senior campaign.
Wells (Oxon Hill, Md.) graded out at 84 percent on blocking assignments from his guard position and ranked second on the team with 43 pancake blocks.
Henry-Ajudua (Durham, N.C.) finished second in the conference with a team-best 7.5 sacks, along with 11.5 hits for a loss and 33 total tackles.
Mike Jones (Baltimore, Md.) makes a return to the all-conference first team after missing most of the 2015 campaign due to an injury. As a return specialist, he tops the MEAC with an average of 22.0 yards per punt return and is one of only four returners in the FCS with two punt return touchdowns. As a cornerback, he has tallied 30 tackles and five passes defended with two interceptions and three pass break-ups.
Simpson (Wilmington, N.C.) averaged 5.1 yards per carry with a team-high 630 rushing yards and five trips to the end zone, while also catching 19 passes for 231 yards.
Symmonett (Nassau, Bahamas) posted the team’s second-highest grade of 89 percent on blocking assignments with 27 pancake blocks.
Brown (Jacksonville, Fla.) ranked fourth in the conference with 7.0 sacks and sixth with a team-high 13.0 tackles for a loss, while also contributing 48 total tackles, four pass deflections, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
Hunter (Henderson, N.C.) totaled a team-high 73 total tackles, including 11.0 hits for a loss with 2.0 sacks, and tied for third in the league with a team-best four interceptions.
Harley (Durham, N.C.) placed third on the Eagles with 67 tackles, including 6.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage.
McClellon (Lake Butler, Fla.) finished second on the team with 71 tackles, including 7.0 hits for a loss with 2.0 sacks, along with three pass break-ups, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and a blocked kick.
McLaren (Miami, Fla.) ranked second in the MEAC in field goals made with nine, field goal percentage at 75.0 percent and scoring among kickers with 65 points (5.9 avg.).
Henderson (Danville, Va.) collected nine receptions for 118 yards and a touchdown, averaging 13.1 yards per catch.
Leverett (Concord, N.C.) achieved a grade of 84 percent on blocking assignments from his tackle position, while adding 35 pancake blocks in his first year of college football.
Ja’Quan Smith (Miramar, Fla.) accumulated 54 tackles from his interior lineman position to place fourth on the squad, as well as 7.5 stops for a loss with 3.5 sacks.
After defeating nationally-ranked North Carolina A&T 42-21 on Nov. 19 to capture the MEAC championship, No. 18 NCCU (9-2, 8-0 MEAC) will play the winner of the SWAC championship in the second annual Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl on Dec. 17 inside the Georgia Dome.