ROCK HILL, S.C. (release) -- Carson-Newman quarterback Brandon Haywood (Rockmart, Ga.) has been selected as the South Atlantic Conference’s co-Offensive Player of the Year with Wingate’s Chris Bowden by the league’s coaches.
Haywood joins four other Eagles on the league’s first team. Carson-Newman also put four players on the all-conference second team.
Javaris Neal (Memphis, Tenn.) was chosen as the conference’s freshman defensive player of the year.
Haywood led the league in rushing touchdowns with 14. The senior also found the end zone seven times through the air. With solid performances in the playoffs, Haywood can become the first Carson-Newman quarterback to rush and pass for 1,000 yards in a season since Alex Good went for 1,253 yards on the ground and 1,859 yards through the air in 2009. Haywood has 837 yards rushing and 958 yard passing.
“The quarterback in our offense makes so many decisions,” Carson-Newman head football coach Ken Sparks. “He’s done a tremendous job with it. But the best thing about Brandon is that the other kids have seen his struggles and battle to get better. They’ve seen his desire to be a team player regardless of whether he plays one play or all the plays. The character part is what makes Brandon a special person.”
Joining Haywood on the first team offense are running back Brandon Baker (Miami, Fla.), center Kevin Day (Soddy-Daisy, Tenn.) and kicker Curt Duncan (Morristown, Tenn.). Deshon Collins (Birmingham, Ala.) was Carson-Newman’s lone first team defensive selection.
Baker is a two-time SAC Offensive player of the week. The junior turned in two of the top rushing performances in the league this season when he rushed for 219 yards and three touchdowns against Glenville State and 185 yards and four scores against Tusculum.
“Brandon has grown tremendously,” Sparks said. “It’s been fun to see him mature. He hurt his knee pretty good Saturday; I went over to joke to him and say, ‘What’s wrong Suzy?’ He told me, ‘Coach I’m going back in there.’ He went in the play after that. He’s toughened up and turned into a pretty special running back.”
Day’s selection to the All-SAC First Team was first time he was picked to the postseason team in his career. Day also shares the Jacobs Blocking Award with L-R’s Kaleb Myrick.
Day leads a line that has cleared the way for the nation’s second best rushing offense at 378.4 yards per game. The Eagles 41 points per game are good enough to lead the league. Day has started 45 consecutive contests for Carson-Newman.
“Kevin will find some way to get it done,” Sparks said. “He’ll find a way. It’s fun being around people to get it done instead of finding reasons not to get it done.”
Duncan contributed mightily to the Eagles points tally. The junior kicker blasted two field goals from more than 50 yards out, including a school record 54-yarder against Tusculum. While Haywood led the league in scoring average for any player with 8.4 points per game, it was Duncan who took home the scoring title for kickers with his eight points a contest.
“Not only on the field with the statistics he has,” Sparks said. “But Curt is probably the most respected guy on our football team. He’s been on the mission field and he knows he’s headed back to the mission field and he uses football as a mission field. I wish we had 100 like him with the heart he’s got.”
As Carson-Newman’s lone first team defensive selection, Collins helped lead an Eagle defense that ranked second in the league in points allowed. Collins 18 tackles with six of the stops coming behind the line of scrimmage. The Birmingham, Ala.-native also forced and recovered a fumble.
While he didn’t make an all-conference team, Neal was chosen as the league’s freshman defensive player of the year. Neal came alive in the second half of the season, making 28 tackles with six tackles for a loss. Three of those drops for a loss came against rival Tusculum.
“Deshon’s got good explosion and he’s very quick,” Sparks said. “He’s a quality football player and I’d hate to know where we’d be without him.”
Offensive lineman Alex Taylor (Bristol, Tenn.) and running back Tyron Douglas (Clover, S.C.) made the second team offense. Taylor is a three year starter for the Eagles, making the move from guard to tackle for his junior season. Douglas rushed for 558 yards and eight touchdowns on the year. The junior had two multi-score games in 2012; he found the end zone multiple times against Mars Hill and UNC Pembroke.
The Eagles two All-SAC Second Team defenders are both members of the secondary. Oliver Davis (Acworth, Ga.) started out the season on the bench with an injury, but played in the final seven contests to finish the year with 28 tackles and a pick. Joining him is Issac Kinley (Johnson City, Tenn.). The Science Hill-product was Carson-Newman’s third leading tackler with 41 stops. Kinley also yanked down an interception against Mars Hill.
The Eagles All-SAC performers will be on display Saturday, Nov. 24 against the winner of the Fort Valley State – Lenoir-Rhyne game in the second round of the playoffs at noon from Burke-Tarr Stadium. For ticket information, call 865-471-3396.
SAC Co-Offensive Players Of The Year – Brandon Haywood, Carson-Newman and Chris Bowden, Wingate
SAC Co-Defensive Players Of The Year – Troy Harris, Mars Hill and Cory Johnson, Catawba
SAC Offensive Freshman Of The Year – Jaquan Marsh, Brevard
SAC Defensive Freshman Of The Year – Jarvis Neal, Carson-Newman
SAC Jacobs Blocking Trophy – Kaleb Myrick, Lenoir-Rhyne and Kevin Day, Carson-Newman
SAC Coach Of The Year – Mike Houston, Lenoir-Rhyne