GREENSBORO (November 28, 2016) – North Carolina A&T head coach Rod Broadway’s point that the Aggies football team had a good season despite coming short of winning their third straight MEAC title will be furthered by the fact 14 of his players were named to one of the three Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference’s all-conference teams on Monday.
Two Aggies earned top superlatives with another one potentially on the way. Left tackle Brandon Parker (6-foot-7, 299, R-JR, Kannapolis, N.C.) was named offensive lineman of the year for the second straight season, while wide receiver Elijah Bell (6-2, 210, FR, Wheeling Park, WVa.) was named rookie of the year. The offensive and defensive players of the year will be announced on Dec. 6 at the National Football Foundation awards press conference at the Empire Room at the Waldorf Astoria. The NFF and College Hall of Fame announced a partnership with the MEAC to reveal the league’s offensive and defensive players of the year as part of the festivities surrounding the 59th NFF Annual Awards Dinner in New York City.
Running back Tarik Cohen (5-6, 179, SR, Bunn, N.C.) has a chance to make conference history at the Waldorf. If he wins offensive player of the year, he will be the first player in MEAC history to win the honor three consecutive years. Bell is the third Aggie to be named the conference’s top rookie in eight years joining Mike Mayhew (2009) and Cohen (2013).
Seven of the Aggies 14 all-conference players are first teamers. The Aggies first-team all-conference selections were Cohen, right tackle Wes Cole (6-6, 335, SR, Stanley, N.C.), tight end Leroy Hill (6-3, 239, R-SO, Smithfield, N.C.), defensive end Angelo Keyes (6-1, 270, R-SR, Kinston, N.C.), Parker, defensive tackle Marquis Ragland (6-3, 271, R-SR, Fayetteville, N.C.) and linebacker Jeremy Taylor (5-11, 181, R-JR, Kinston, N.C.).
Bell, return specialist Khris Gardin (5-7, 164, JR, Morganton, N.C.), wide receiver Denzel Keyes (6-4, 215, SR, Kinston, N.C.), center Darriel Mack (6-2, 291, R-JR, Clio, S.C.), quarterback and Lamar Raynard (6-4, 176, R-SO, High Point, N.C.) were second teamers, while right guard Daquan Blake (6-3, 315, JR, Leavenworth, Kan.) and placekicker Cody Jones (5-11, 141, SR, Gastonia, N.C.) made the third team.
In his rookie season, Bell caught a freshman school-record eight touchdown passes. His eight TD receptions ranks second in the conference and 33rd in the nation. Bell caught 35 passes for 631 yards and averaged 18.0 yards per reception. He joins Dexter Feaster, Larry Orie and Wallace Miles as the only four players to lead the Aggies in receiving as freshmen. Bell leads the conference in yards per reception and ranks third receiving yards.
Parker had another solid season at the left tackle position where he did not yield a sack this season, and he had just two penalties called against him this season. Parker won offensive lineman of the week five times this season from the MEAC after consistently grading out with 90’s during the season. The Aggies ranked first this season in total offense, rushing offense and third in passing offense.
Cohen ended his career on Saturday against Richmond with 5,619 rushing yards, the most in MEAC history. Only Winston-Salem State’s Richard Huntley (6,286) had more rushing yards as a player from an historically black college or university football program. Cohen has led the MEAC in rushing four straight years and rushed for 1,588 yards this season, breaking his own single-season rushing record (1,543) from last season. He is one of only 10 players in NCAA FCS history to rush for 1,000 yards in four straight seasons.
He is second in the nation in rushing yards per carry and third in rushing TD’s (18), rushing yards and seventh in all-purpose yards (160.58). He broke the Aggies single-season record for total touchdowns with 19 this season.
Wes Cole earned his first all-conference honor. He is a four-year starter for the Aggies who has mostly played right tackle but has also started at right guard. He earned one offensive lineman of the week honor on Oct. 24 after the Aggies defeated Howard 34-7. Hill had an excellent season in his first year as a starter. Hill led all MEAC tight ends in receiving with 174 yards and two touchdowns on 17 receptions.
Angelo Keyes earned his second straight first team honor. He proved to be an excellent pass rusher this season for the Aggies. He made 38 tackles with eight tackles for loss. His six sacks ranked fifth in the MEAC. His athleticism allowed him to finish his career with 16 pass break ups. Ragland is also a two-time first-team selection. Ragland is regarded as the Aggies best defensive player with teams needing to double team him to stop him from being disruptive. He made 50 tackles from his interior defensive line position with 11 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks.
Taylor had a career year for the Aggies. It started with his breakout game at Kent State when he posted 15 tackles, four tackles loss, two sacks, two pass break ups and one interception. The performance earned him STATS FCS National Player of the Week honors. He led the Aggies in tackles (79), passes defended (12), interceptions (4) and tied for the team lead in break ups (8). He was 13th in the league in tackles and tackles for loss and he was fourth in passes defended.