Dec. 11, 2013
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Senior Marcus Smith, the American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year, highlights the University of Louisville football team's 11 all-conference selections, the league announced Wednesday.
Louisville's 11 picks tied conference champion UCF for the most in the league. That total is the most in school history since the Cardinals had 11 earn all-BIG EAST honors in 2006.
Smith, a first-team honoree, led the league decisively in total sacks in conference play with 10.5 and sacks per game at 1.31. The Columbus, Ga., native currently ranks seventh on the school's charts with 12.5 sacks overall and needs just half a sack to tie for fifth most in a season. Smith is second in the league in tackles for loss per game both overall (11.5) and per game (1.44). Smith also forced three fumbles and blocked a kick.
Smith is the first conference defensive player of the year since Elvis Dumervil collected the award from the BIG EAST in 2005.
Smith, a senior, who ranked in the top 20 in the league in passes defended, became the first Louisville player since Ronnie Ghent (2000-03) to earn all-conference honors each of their four years. For the season, the Jonesboro, Ga., native intercepted three passes this season - two in conference play - and recorded his lone sack against league-foe Rutgers.
Teamed with Smith, Pryor made Louisville's safety tandem arguably among the best in the country. The hard-hitting junior earned his second career conference accolade after compiling 69 tackles, 5.5 which resulted in a loss of yardage, three interceptions and two forced fumbles. In conference play, Pryor ranked 16th in tackles for all positions with 50, or 7.1 per game.
Gaines, the converted receiver, proved to be one of the top cornerbacks in the league. He ranked fifth in the conference in passes defended at one per game. Of his eight passes defended, four resulted in interceptions. His four picks are the second-best total in the league, and he is only one of two players - the other being Louisville's Terell Floyd - to have returned an interception for a touchdown in conference action.
Parker, through seven games, had 412 yards receiving and a team-high five touchdowns on 27 receptions. He averaged 15.3 yards per catch. Brown and Smith earned the starting nod in each of the team's eight conference games as did offensive guard and second-team pick John Miller.
Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who earned second-team honors, finished conference play, completing 189 of his 272 attempts - a conference best 69.5 percentage - for 14 touchdowns and 2,309 yards. The Miami, Fla., native finished second in the AAC in efficiency rating at 155.6.
Mauldin, who lined up on the opposite side of Marcus Smith on the defensive line, totaled six sacks, or 0.75 per game, for the second-best mark in the conference. Mauldin's 7.5 tackles for loss was good enough to tie for 12th in the conference. Preston Brown, who led the team with 59 tackles in league action, tied for 11th in the conference with 7.4 tackles per game.
Louisville (11-1, 7-1 AAC) concludes the 2013 campaign on Dec. 28 in the Russell Athletic Bowl against Miami (Fla.). Kickoff at the Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando is scheduled for 6:45 p.m.
2013 AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE FOOTBALL AWARDS
AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Blake Bortles, QB, UCF (Jr., Oveido, Fla.)
AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Marcus Smith, DE, Louisville (Sr., Columbus, Ga.)
AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYERS OF THE YEAR
Demarcus Ayers, RS, Houston (Fr., Lancaster, Texas)
Tom Hornsey, P, Memphis (Sr., Geelong, Victoria, Australia)
AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
John O'Korn, QB, Houston (Fr., Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE COACH OF THE YEAR
George O'Leary, UCF
|ALL-CONFERENCE FIRST TEAM|
|OT||Eric Lefeld *||Cincinnati|
|RS||Ralph David Abernathy IV||Cincinnati|
|* unanimous selection|
|ALL-CONFERENCE SECOND TEAM|