All five men ranked amongst the national statistical leaders in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision last season and all five have received a Preseason All-America distinction from STATS as the start of the 2018 campaign nears.
Saint Francis senior receiver Kamron Lewis, the 2016 NEC Offensive Player of the Year, accounts for the conference’s representation on the STATS FCS Preseason All-America Second Team Offense. After setting the league’s single-season receiving record with 1,478 yards as a sophomore, Lewis caught 65 passes for 909 yards in 10 games last fall. His 6.5 receptions per contest placed the California product in the No. 14 spot on the FCS leader board.
Reigning NEC Defensive Player of the Year Thomas Costigan earned a spot on the Second Team Defense. Bryant’s senior linebacker led the circuit with 11.5 sacks last season, a number that tied him for third place overall in the FCS. His 17.0 tackles for loss and four forced fumbles were also league highs.
Bryant junior Jean Constant joined Costigan on the STATS FCS All-America Second Team, occupying a special teams slot as a kick returner. The speedy receiver, who made 48 receptions as a sophomore, logged at least 100 kick return yards on five separate occasions in 2017. His 27.5 yards per kickoff return represented the highest average amongst all FCS players who logged at least 25 returns. Constant, who totaled a program-record 989 KOR yards, returned two kickoffs to paydirt and also scored seven touchdowns receiving.
Duquesne placed a pair of accomplished skill position players – WR Nehari Crawford and RB AJ Hines — on the STATS FCS All-American Third Team Offense.
Averaging 15.8 yards per catch, Crawford broke the 1,000-yard receiving barrier last season. The elusive veteran totaled a league-leading 1,026 receiving yards to go along with 15 touchdown grabs, the most by any FCS receiver during the 2017 regular season.
Duquesne, which featured the conference’s top-ranked offense, again benefitted from bell cow running back AJ Hines. After winning the 2016 STATS Jerry Rice Award as the nation’s best freshman player, Hines fought through injury to eclipse the 1,000-yard rushing mark again in 2017. In nine games, the bruising ball carrier rushed 182 times for 1,038 yards and 10 touchdowns.