Five Northeast Conference footballers earned places amongst the NCAA Division I FCS elite.
Duquesne linebacker Christian Kuntz played his way onto the First Team, posting league-leading numbers in tackles for loss (23.0) and interceptions (4) over the course of 11 regular season games. The veteran Duke was one of 25 finalists for the STATS FCS Defensive Player of the Year award.
Sacred Heart receiver Tyler Dube and Saint Francis kick returner Lorenzo Jerome comprised the NEC’s presence on the Second Team. Dube broke the Pioneers’ single-season receiving record with a yardage total (1,160) that ranked him fifth amongst FCS leaders at regular season’s end. Jerome posted the highest kickoff return average (32.1 ypr) in the nation and ran two back for touchdowns.
Linebacker James Rentz’s selection to the Third Team gave Sacred Heart a second All-America selection. Rentz, who logged 13.0 TFL and 8.5 sacks in nine games, was one of two players from the NEC’s Nutmeg State contingent named to the Third Team. Central Connecticut cornerback Jevon Elmore joined Rentz after tying for second amongst national leaders in passes defended (18).
The 2015 season marks the third consecutive year that the Northeast Conference produced at least five STATS Inc. (formerly Sports Network) All-Americans. In 2013, a conference-record eight NEC players achieved All-America status. The league garnered eight selections again in 2014.
Kuntz is the lone two-time honoree in the group. The Keystone State product earned a spot on the All-America Third Team as a sophomore in 2013 before losing the entire 2014 campaign to injury.
STATS FCS All-America First Team
Christian Kuntz (DUQ), Linebacker
Showed no ill effects of the injury that cost him the entire 2014 season and wasted little time returning to the form that earned him All-America status as a sophomore in 2013. Played in all of the Dukes’ games en-route to earning the NEC Defensive Player of the Year award and leading the team into its first-ever Division I FCS playoffs appearance. The fierce linebacker was amongst the nation’s top-3 leaders in TFL.
STATS FCS All-America Second Team
Tyler Dube (SHU), Wide Receiver
His ascension from scout team to star concludes with an All-America selection. He may not have the physical measurable that pundits love, but he always produced results despite being game-planned for. Had at least four receptions in every game in 2015. The man with great hands accounted for one of finest seasons for a receiver in NEC history, logging the third-highest yardage total in league’s 20-year history. He surpassed former Dallas Cowboys’ draft pick Deveren Johnson for the SHU single-season receiving record (1,160 yds) and current NFL receiver Miles Austin for third place on the NEC’s career receiving list (3,206 yds).
Lorenzo Jerome (SFU), Return Specialist
Had an argument for All-America honors at safety, but was an absolute “can’t-miss” for the return specialist spot. The dynamic player, who was a quarterback during his high school career in Florida, led the FCS in KOR average. He had two KOR TDs – both on the road. Totaled 747 all-purpose yards on returns (KOR – 531; PR – 101; INT RET – 115).
STATS FCS All-America Third Team
James Rentz (SHU), Linebacker
Former Sacred Heart running back Keshaudas Spence predicted Remtz’s emergence two seasons ago and he was spot on. Rentz has freak strength and can fly to the football and has been displaying those two attributes since finding the field as a rookie in 2013. He admirably took on more responsibility in 2015 for a defensive unit that lost a ton to graduation. Despite missing two games, he still finished second amongst league leaders in sacks (8.5) and third in TFL (13.0).
Jevon Elmore (CCSU), Defensive Back
One of the top pure “cover corners” in the FCS, he isn’t shy to come up and defend the run. He is athletically gifted with great speed (he’s scored sprinting points at NEC track championships before) and good ball skills. Elmore accounted for a league-high 16 pass break-ups in 11 games. His 18 passes defended were tied for second-most in the nation. Whether it’s on defense or special teams, he showed a knack for the big play – a key blocked kick in win over SHU and a forced fumble at the goal line against Lehigh are two noteworthy highlights.